To the editor:
I believe that Justin Wilson is the right choice for mayor for three primary reasons. First is the city’s response to COVID-19. Wilson, the Alexandria City Council and City Manager Mark Jinks have led us during this time of tribulation with strength, transparency and compassion.
When the pandemic first occurred, the city adopted an evidence-based approach that emphasized our communal commitment to social distancing and wearing masks. When our region experienced a higher COVID-19 rate than the rest of Virginia, Wilson advocated extending the phase-in for Northern Virginia so that our hospitals would not be overwhelmed before developing the resources necessary to adequately care for the coming surge in cases.
Transparency has been the hallmark of the city’s approach to addressing the pandemic. The mayor’s Facebook page includes regular updates on the city’s vaccination, infection and mortality data – regardless of whether or not that data is favorable.
And our city has run highly efficient vaccine distribution clinics. And, while the pandemic has devastated the budgets of many local jurisdictions, the solid financial stewardship of Alexandria has resulted in a proposed budget with no substantial reductions in staff or service and a cut to the real estate tax rate.
Second, is our city’s commitment to equality. The last few years have been challenging in that regard at the national scene, but Wilson and the city’s other political leaders stepped up to fill a moral void and be a voice for disadvantaged communities. In addition to showing up and speaking at Black Lives Matter rallies in the city, these leaders put action behind their words.
The city’s budget included funds for the hiring of an official that has been committed to ensuring that the city’s policies actively work to address racial and social inequalities. One can see how that effort is paying off by merely listening to conversations in city government where the impact of the policy on equity is being discussed in ways that it never was before.
Lastly, in many heated political disputes, the side that doesn’t prevail may be left feeling that they weren’t heard by the decision maker. But I’ve seen nothing but collaboration and openness in the legislative process. For example, the city recently proposed an ordinance that would permit collective bargaining by public employees. There was pushback from labor rights groups that the ordinance didn’t provide sufficient protections. I find it refreshing that the city felt the need to put action behind its progressive values by allowing this kind of initiative in the first place. But, when opposition was expressed about how the ordinance was drafted, council delayed its consideration so it could work with impacted parties to come up with principled compromises that address concerns that have been raised.
We have fantastic leadership in this city and I hope you will support giving Justin Wilson another term as mayor.
-David A. Lord, Alexandria