My View: Why I’m running for council with Alyia Gaskins

My View: Why I’m running for council with Alyia Gaskins
Alyia Gaskins (Courtesy photo)

When I decided to run for Alexandria City Council, I knew what I could bring to our city: the experience and skills of a public health and planning professional ready to listen, learn and facilitate a way forward for Alexandria. As I have listened to Alexandrians from across our city, it has become clear to me that my experience, vision and approach are needed now more than ever.

After the pain and loss experienced by all of us in the past year, heightened by the effect of racial disparities for our Black and brown neighbors, I am hearing that people want a healthier, more just Alexandria. I’m hearing that people want pathways to prosperity for all our residents.

As the daughter of a single mom who had to make difficult tradeoffs between food, rent and asthma and diabetes medications, I have dedicated my career to ensuring every family has the resources it needs to thrive. My experience working in cities across the country has shown me what it takes to make that happen, and I am ready to bring that knowledge and insight to our city.

As a public health and planning expert, I understand what it means to help build healthy communities. We need to ensure that our infrastructure, housing, transportation, economic, education and environmental policies work together to meet the needs of all our residents. Rather than functioning at cross purposes or reinforcing unjust practices, our policies and practices must work together toward our collective vision.

Alexandrians want someone who will listen and elevate that vision. My work in communities has given me the heart and the skills to center the voices and stories of all and to develop creative ways of engaging people in navigating our recovery and in shaping decisions that impact their lives.

As a mother, I want my Black son and his schoolmates of all races, ethnicities, and genders to grow up in an Alexandria that is not just diverse, but safe, welcoming and resourced so that they all can flourish. My unshakeable passion for this vision fuels my commitment to making it a reality.

I knew my campaign was on the right track when a voter shared that she was voting for me because “you care about all of the people of Alexandria. I don’t need someone who just cares about people like me; I need someone to make this election about a more just city with opportunity for all.”

I knew we were gaining momentum when people from across the city, from the east to the west, families and children, singles and elders, those who are already thriving and those who need a little support, started championing my campaign. I was elated when we received the endorsement of so many past and present local leaders as well as national organizations such as Run for Something and the Collective Pac. I knew we were in high gear when I came in first in the Alexandria Democratic Committee straw poll.

I’m now convinced that this is our moment. I am ready, and Alexandria is ready. I invite you to join me in creating a healthier, more just Alexandria.

The writer is a candidate for Alexandria City Council.