Alexandria Times Voter Guide 2021

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Alexandria Times Voter Guide 2021
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On June 8, voters will head to the polls for the Democratic primary where they will choose between incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson and former Mayor Allison Silberberg. They will also decide which of the 13 Democratic candidates will gain the party’s nomination for six City Council seats. Our voter guide will help you get to know these candidates, their goals and their visions for the city’s future.

The Mayoral candidates:

Allison Silberberg

Age: 58

Occupation: Writer

Allison Silberberg served as Alexandria’s vice mayor from 2013 to 2015. In 2015, she was elected mayor and served through 2018. As mayor, some of her accomplishments included tripling the dedicated funding for the Affordable Housing Fund; approving and building two new public schools; securing the $1 billion Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard; leading the approval of the long-delayed plan to resolve the sewage issues that flow into the Potomac and fighting for Alexandria’s small businesses by opposing the BID tax.

 

Justin Wilson

Age: 42

Occupation: Mayor/senior director, Amtrak

(Courtesy photo)

As mayor, I have focused on ensuring the success of our children, improving our infrastructure and diversifying our economy. During this most recent term, I have represented council on the City-Schools Subcommittee, the ARHA Redevelopment Committee, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Audit Committee and more. I have been with Amtrak for more than 14 years and now lead IT supplier management. My wife and I live with our two children, both ACPS students, in Del Ray.

Rank the following issues from most to least important:

Silberberg:

1) ACPS students back in classrooms full-time
2) Flooding
3) Resident input into decisions
4) School capacity
5) Environmental preservation
6) Affordable housing
7) Small business strength
8) Equity
9) Ethics
10) Historic preservation
11) Non-automobile transportation options
12) Vibrancy
13) Increasing density

Wilson:

1) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
2) School capacity
3) Equity
4) Resident input into decisions
5) Environmental preservation
6) Flooding
7) Small business strength
8) Affordable housing
9) Non-automobile transportation options
10) Historic preservation
11) Ethics
12) Increasing density
13) Vibrancy

What’s the biggest problem facing Alexandria right now?

Silberberg: The biggest problem is out-of-scale overbuilding that doesn’t take into account surrounding neighborhoods, infrastructure and school capacity.

Wilson: The human, economic and public health impacts of the pandemic remain an urgent challenge facing our community and must be our top priority.

What’s the city’s biggest long-term challenge?

Silberberg: The biggest long-term challenge is the imbalance of residential to commercial tax revenue and finding solutions to attract and keep businesses in Alexandria.

Wilson: Addressing decades of underinvestment in infrastructure — roads, bridges, sewers, sidewalks, housing, school and municipal facilities — requires additional resources and focus.

What is Alexandria’s greatest strength and how would you work to enhance it?

Silberberg: Our greatest strength is our sense of community, including our diverse people and neighborhoods, our historic districts and our unique shops and restaurants, which all must be protected.

Wilson: The diversity of our people is our greatest enduring asset. Ensuring a place for everyone in our city can maintain and enhance that diversity.

What’s the first thing you’d propose if you’re elected as mayor?

Silberberg: I would insist on a citywide look at our infrastructure and work with staff and council to create an aggressive, proactive plan for short-term and long-term fixes.

Wilson: As we have expanded investment in schools and sewers, our parks have been starved. It’s time for comprehensive investment in our parks and open spaces.

Which personal contribution that you have made in Alexandria are you proudest of?

Silberberg: As a private citizen and chair of our city’s Economic Opportunities Commission, I initiated and led our annual public service day, renovating the Alexandria Community Shelter with 100 volunteers and many donors.

Wilson: The redevelopment of Landmark Mall and Alexandria Hospital, the Potomac Yard Metro station, the purchase of Freedom House and five new school buildings being built.

What qualifies you to be mayor?

Silberberg: I have a demonstrated, robust track record of getting things done for our city with a clear record of transparency, truth and ethics.

Wilson: I have helped steer the city through a time of unprecedented challenge, while addressing some of the most intractable challenges facing our city.

What is the city’s greatest area of need as it continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic? How would you address it?

Silberberg: Our greatest area of need is economic development, supporting our small businesses and getting our students back to school full-time.

Wilson: As we continue recovery from the pandemic, we will need to accelerate changes to our zoning code to facilitate conversions and use flexibility.

What is the best approach to address the city’s affordable housing challenges?

Silberberg: While I was mayor, we tripled the dedicated funding for the Affordable Housing Fund. I will look for similar initiatives to help our city’s most vulnerable while preserving our current stock of affordable housing.

Wilson: I have always supported an “all of the above” approach to address affordability: zoning policy, new funding and new partnerships.

What do you hope the city looks like in five years? Ten years?

Silberberg: I hope our city continues to prosper and thrive while protecting its neighborhoods, preserving our historic districts and saving our forests and increasing tree canopy.

Wilson: Over the next decade, my hope is a city with a thriving small business community and basic infrastructure maintained to a state of good repair.

How do you plan to address issues of race and social equity in the city, if at all?

Silberberg: I am proud that I initiated and drafted our city’s Statement on Inclusiveness and established our Racial Equity Office and will continue to fight for equity.

Wilson: The city must attack inequities that exist in our community, in health, in housing, in wealth attainment, in educational attainment and in the justice system.

Do you believe more policing reform needs to be pursued in the Alexandria Police Department?

Silberberg: I support the establishment of the Community Policing Review Board, as well as more training for de-escalation, anti-racial bias, and crisis intervention training.

Wilson: We have a great police department that ably protects our community, but no department should ever stop attempting to improve.

Do you agree with the creation of a “drug court” to prioritize treatment over punishment for possession of drugs? Do you view this as an equity issue? Explain.

Silberberg: I support the creation of a “drug court.” As mayor, I supported enhanced diversion measures to keep minor offenders out of the prison pipeline. This is an equity issue, and I will continue to support such initiatives.

Wilson: Efforts, like the drug court, to prioritize treatment over punishment for substance use disorder are backed by science and I support them.

Alexandria’s supply of affordable housing has decreased significantly over the past 20 years. Do you view this as an equity issue? Explain.

Silberberg: It is an equity issue. I fully support the creation of more affordable and workforce housing. While I was mayor, we tripled the dedicated funding for the Affordable Housing Fund.

Wilson: The growing extinction of market-rate affordable housing in our city is a significant equity issue and challenges our economy and quality of life. The mayor is one vote in seven on council.

The mayor is one vote in seven on council. What, to you, is significant about the mayor’s role?

Silberberg: The role of mayor is far more than one vote on the Council. The mayor sets the tone, vision and temperament for the city. The mayor represents the city locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. I would be a mayor who is an active listener and who respects the opinions of our residents, businesses and civic associations. I will serve as the leader who will listen, take action and restore the public trust.

Wilson: The mayor’s role is to provide organizational, policy and administrative leadership for the council. During my time as mayor, the council adopted our first ever Council Work Program, to ensure that the City Council directs a policy approach responsive to the concerns of the residents that we serve.

If elected, what will be your priority as mayor going into a second term?

Silberberg: My top priority will be focused on infrastructure, specifically addressing the sewage and stormwater issues and doing so in an expeditious way so we can stop the flooding. When it comes to our residents’ homes and lives, we must take immediate action to prevent the next flood, rather than waiting for the third flood in a year to take action, as happened in the past 12 months. Investments in infrastructure would also include a focus on smart growth, school capacity and environmental stewardship.

Wilson: Our priority must be the recovery of our residents, our small businesses and our government from the crippling pandemic. As we move forward, we must implement infrastructure investments that we have funded in schools, sewers, fire stations, roads and sidewalks. One area of chronic under-investment that demands our attention and resources should be our parks, recreation facilities and open space.

If you lose the Democratic primary for mayor, will you accept the outcome, endorse the winner and pledge not to wage a write-in campaign this fall?

Silberberg: Yes.

Wilson: Yes.

The City Council candidates:

Canek Aguirre

Councilman Canek Aguirre (Courtesy Photo)

Age: 35
Occupation: Community relations

Canek Aguirre is a community advocate and progressive leader with a track record of building coalitions to amplify the voices that aren’t always heard. He spent three years serving students and families in Alexandria City Public Schools and currently works to improve health outcomes for Medicaid populations throughout Northern Virginia. Currently in his first term, Canek is the first Latino to serve on Alexandria City Council.

 

 

Sarah Bagley
Age: 44
Occupation: Executive director of Chisom Housing Group

Sarah Bagley

As a community organizer with the Alexandria Democratic Committee lobbying with MOMS Demand Action and organizing with Postcards4VA, I’m committed to Alexandria. My experience as a trial attorney and now working in affordable housing will provide valuable perspective to council. I’m running to bring my analytical legal skills, my collaborative non-profit experience and my grassroots activism toward building a safer, more inclusive Alexandria.

 

Bill Campbell
Age: 59

Bill Campbell. Courtesy photo.

Occupation: Retired design engineer/program manager

Bill Campbell has been married for 37 years and has three adult children, all of whom went through Alexandria City Public Schools. He is a retired engineer with paralegal training and has served on multiple citizen groups, including local PTAs; the Early Education Commission; the Law Library; the Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission; the School Board and, currently, the Commission on Aging.

 

 

John Chapman
Age: 40
Occupation: Community use specialist at Fairfax County Public Schools

Courtesy photo

John is a life-long Alexandrian who graduated from St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School and has a degree in social studies education from St. Olaf College. He works as a community use specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools. John is the proud owner and founder of the Manumission Tour Company, which provides curated heritage tours highlighting Alexandria’s African American history. Last February, John and his wife Monika celebrated the birth of their first child, John II.

 

Alyia Gaskins
Age: 31
Occupation: Senior program officer at a national foundation

Alyia Gaskins (Courtesy photo)

Alyia Gaskins is a public health expert and urban planner who will bring a new perspective to City Council. She is a senior program officer at a national foundation. Having spent a decade working in communities across the country, she understands how economic recovery, affordable housing and climate policies are connected and is focused on bringing more diverse voices to the table. Alyia lives on the West End with her husband, son and beagle.

Kevin Harris
Age: 40
Occupation: Small business owner, coach

Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris is the owner of Hoop Life, a basketball services company in Northern Virginia. He’s a minister at Love of Christ Church in Alexandria, community organizer, serves on the VOICE Strategy Team and is president of the ARHA City Wide Resident Association. He has spent the last decade fighting on the ground to make Alexandria more equitable for working class families. He lives in Old Town with his wife of 17 years and their four daughters.

 

 

Amy Jackson
Age: 50
Occupation: Alexandria city councilwoman

I am a hometown girl, growing up in Foxchase in the West End, and am a product of Alexandria City Public Schools. I am a mom, wife, daughter and educator. Currently, my family and I live in Marlboro Estates, where my children are virtually attending ACPS elementary school this year. As an Alexandria city councilwoman, I am currently serving in my first term, and I am seeking reelection on June 8. Visit my website: www.AmyJacksonVA.com for more information.

 

James Lewis
Age: 33
Occupation: Director of policy and advocacy, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists

James Lewis (Courtesy photo)

James Lewis, 33, lives and works in Alexandria. A former senior Congressional staffer, he leads advocacy efforts to pharmacists specializing in senior care. He has lived throughout the city over the last decade before purchasing a home on the West End. Civically, he is the vice chair of the Traffic and Parking Board and a former transportation commissioner, civic association officer and president of the Virginia Young Democrats. He and his fiancé, Trevor, intend to wed in October.

Kirk McPike
Age: 43
Occupation: Chief of staff to Rep. Mark Takano

Kirk McPike. Courtesy photo.

A resident of Alexandria for more than 10 years, Kirk McPike lives in the West End with his husband, Jason Kaufman, and their beagle, Punky. Kirk came to Alexandria to manage Adam Ebbin’s campaign for state senate. In his professional life, Kirk serves as chief of staff to Congressman Mark Takano. Kirk has served our community as the former chair of the Alexandria Economic Opportunities Commission, and he is currently a member of Alexandria’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee.

Patrick Moran
Age: 31
Occupation: Social entrepreneur

Patrick Moran (Courtesy photo)

Patrick Moran is a devoted father, husband, small business owner and community leader who has committed himself to ensuring Alexandria becomes the greatest small city in the world. He grew up in Del Ray and lives in the Parker-Gray neighborhood of Old Town, where he is CEO of Tactical Land Care, a landscape firm that specializes in sustainability and residential stormwater management solutions. He graduated from Yale University, where he studied government and the societal impacts of climate change.

Bill Russello
Age: 62
Occupation: Management consultant, business owner

Bill Rossello. Courtesy photo.

A longtime resident, Bill Rossello has been a management consultant for 35 years working with large companies and federal agencies. He has advised 20 local governments across North America on issues of management, operations and budget. Rossello has been active in the community for 30 years, mostly notably as a member of the city budget committee and a leader of the city’s largest youth sports organization, where he successfully advocated for new and improved playing fields and scholarships for kids in vulnerable communities.

 

Mark Shiffer
Age: 48
Occupation: Director of artificial intelligence engineering, Redhorse Corporation

Mark Shiffer is a husband and the father of two Alexandria City Public Schools students. He followed his wife from Boston to Alexandria four years ago when she took a position at NASA HQ. The first in his family to graduate from college, he has degrees in math, computer science and computational neuroscience. Mark was a former computer science professor and founded a climate research nonprofit with his wife. He enjoys solving complex problems, playing flute and rock climbing. He believes his unique experience and perspective would be a positive addition to council.

Meronne Teklu
Age: 25
Occupation: Consultant

Meronne Teklu. Courtesy photo.

Meronne Teklu is a data-driven, empathetic leader committed to creating an empowered community that realizes the promise of equity. She works as a technology management consultant at a professional services firm in Northern Virginia. Meronne graduated with her bachelor’s degree from The College of William & Mary, where she led various initiatives to elevate diverse, minority student perspectives. Previously, she served as a community manager for IEA Councils on Higher Education and as an advisory board member for the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation.

 

 

Rank the following issues from most to least important:

Aguirre: The candidate did not answer.

Bagley: 

1) Equity
2) Ethics
3) School capacity
4) Affordable housing
5) Environmental preservation
6) Flooding
7) Small business strength
8) Historic preservation
9) Resident input into decisions
10) Non-automobile transportation options
11) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
12) Vibrancy
13) Increasing density

Campbell:

1) Equity
2) Resident input into decisions
3) Ethics
4) Vibrancy
5) Affordable housing
6) Small business strength
7) Environmental preservation
8) Historic preservation
9) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
10) Flooding
11) School capacity
12) Non-automobile transportation options
13) Increasing density

Chapman:

1) Affordable housing
2) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
3) Environmental preservation
4) Increasing density
5) Equity
6) School capacity
7) Flooding
8) Small business strength
9) Resident input into decisions
10) Ethics
11) Non-automobile transportation options
12) Historic preservation
13) Vibrancy

Gaskins:

1) Equity
2) Resident input into decisions
3) Affordable housing
4) Small business strength
5) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
6) School capacity
7) Non-automobile transportation options
8) Flooding
9) Environmental preservation
10) Ethics
11) Vibrancy
12) Increasing density
13) Historic preservation

Harris:

1) Equity
2) Ethics
3) Resident input into decisions
4) Affordable housing
5) Small business strength
6) School capacity
7) Flooding
8) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
9) Environmental preservation
10) Increasing density
11) Non-automobile transportation options
12) Historic preservation
13) Vibrancy

Jackson:

1) Ethics
2) Equity
3) Resident input into decisions
4) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
5) Flooding
6) Small business strength
7) Affordable housing
8) School capacity
9) Environmental preservation
10) Historic preservation
11) Vibrancy
12) Non-automobile transportation options
13) Increasing density

Lewis:

1) Equity
2) Resident input into decisions
3) Flooding
4) School capacity
5) Environmental preservation
6) Affordable housing
7) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
8) Ethics
9) Historic preservation
10) Small business strength
11) Vibrancy
12) Non-automobile transportation options
13) Increasing density

McPike: 

1) School capacity
2) Affordable housing
3) Equity
4) Flooding
5) Resident input into decisions
6) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
7) Small business strength
8) Environmental preservation
9) Non-automobile transportation options
10) Ethics
11) Historic preservation
12) Increasing density
13) Vibrancy

Moran:

1) Ethics
2) Flooding
3) Historic preservation
4) Resident input into decisions
5) Environmental preservation
6) Equity
7) Small business strength
8) School capacity
9) Affordable housing
10) Non-automobile transportation options
11) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
12) Increasing density
13) Vibrancy

Rossello:

1) Ethics
2) Resident input into decisions
3) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
4) Flooding
5) Affordable housing
6) Environmental preservation
7) School capacity
8) Equity
9) Small business strength
10) Historic preservation
11) Non-automobile transportation options
12) Vibrancy
13) Increasing density

Shiffer:

1) Flooding
2) Equity
3) Affordable housing
4) School capacity
5) Vibrancy
6) Ethics
7) Resident input into decisions
8) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
9) Environmental preservation
10) Historic preservation
11) Small business strength
12) Non-automobile transportation options
13) Increasing density

Teklu: 

1) Resident input into decisions
2) Equity
3) Ethics
4) Affordable housing
5) School capacity
6) Small business strength
7) Flooding
8) Environmental preservation
9) Increasing density
10) ACPS students back in classrooms full time
11) Non-automobile transportation options
12) Historic preservation
13) Vibrancy

What’s the biggest problem facing Alexandria right now?

Aguirre: An equitable COVID recovery.

Bagley: A broad base of revenue spread among diverse commercial and real estate owning base that will allow us to invest in key infrastructure and services.

Campbell: A broad base of revenue spread among diverse commercial and real estate owning base that will allow us to invest in key infrastructure and services.

Chapman: Alexandria isn’t immune to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our economic recovery along with getting our kids back in school is top of mind.

Gaskins: Many of our residents don’t feel they have the ability to shape decisions that impact their lives – especially our Black and brown neighbors. 

Harris: Gentrification. Alexandria has lost 90% of its affordable housing since 2000, causing a mass exodus of working-class families and members of our minority communities. 

Jackson: The aftermath of COVID-19 and how our city faces the challenges of the education crisis and economic crisis that we continue to address.

Lewis: The reality that rain brings flooded homes, cars and yards throughout Alexandria with no easy or cheap solution.

McPike: Ensuring that Alexandria fully recovers from the pandemic — and that residents who have suffered are made whole — is the largest challenge facing our city.

Moran: Our city lacks a shared and accepted vision for Alexandria’s future amidst a time when our community is undergoing significant change and growth.

Rossello: Foundational to any well-run municipal government is trust. I will work to restore integrity, transparency and accountability to city hall, making residents the focus once again.

Shiffer: Overdevelopment, gentrification and homogenization contributing to degradation of the environment, unaffordability for our residents and self-destruction of diversity. (See Jane Jacobs)

Teklu: A lack of affordable housing. Every Alexandrian deserves a healthy home, a livable wage and unemployment assistance as we rebuild our local economy post-pandemic.

What’s the city’s biggest long-term challenge?

Aguirre: Infrastructure needs and how to pay for them: waterfront flooding; sewers sanitary and stormwater; school capacity/deteriorating buildings; crumbling city buildings and roads.

Bagley: Housing affordability that allows seniors to retire in the area, young households to invest in first homes and workforce members to make Alexandria their home.

Campbell: Sustaining diversity of race, culture, income and thought. Losing our compassion and being overrun by capitalism. Not becoming complacent with how good things are for many.

Chapman: Tackling our aging infrastructure, particularly as it relates to housing, stormwater management and school capacity, are our highest looming concerns and among my top priorities.

Gaskins: The most pressing longterm challenge facing our city is our aging infrastructure, specifically in the areas of stormwater, transportation, broadband and housing. 

Harris: Equity. Many communities have been left out of the room where decisions are made that impact their lives. Everyone needs to have a seat at the table. 

Jackson: We need to continue to balance our density with our other needs. We need to maintain caution concerning the acceleration of development, as we see added stress on our city pipes, sewers, drains, roads and municipal buildings.

Lewis: The need to balance numerous priorities: preservation, equity, access, capacity and mitigate unintended consequences.

McPike: Finding a thoughtful balance between priorities like housing affordability, education, equity, climate change and flood prevention will be a major challenge for years to come.

Moran: We must ensure Alexandria’s students are prepared with the skills to thrive. It starts in developmental daycare and extends to employment opportunities upon graduation.

Rossello: Infrastructure. We cannot continue to kick the can down the road on school construction, stormwater system upgrades and road enhancements to get traffic moving again.

Shiffer: Finding the balance between sustainable growth, equity, affordability, school capacity and other city services, infrastructure investments and environmental preservation. 

Teklu: Our challenge will be balancing the city budget to increase investments supporting affordable housing, stormwater management, active transportation and modernization of public infrastructure.

What is Alexandria’s greatest strength and how would you work to enhance it?

Aguirre: Alexandria’s residents and businesses. I’ll continue to work to increase housing opportunities for all ages and income levels to ensure a diverse, vibrant community and economy.

Bagley: Citizenry with strong ties to Alexandria. We must work to maintain their devotion and its place in the future as a desirable place to live.

Campbell: Progressive, caring, reasonably-thinking citizens. Most seem to value diversity, acknowledge the negative impacts of our country’s history and want to make life better for all.

Chapman: Our residents. The diversity and intellect of our residents is our greatest asset and I will continue to rely heavily on them when making decisions.

Gaskins: Our people. We need to make it easier for community members to share their views by creating multiple ways for people to participate in decision-making.

Harris: Its people. We have a diverse and talented community. We must ensure that the people who built Alexandria, and work for Alexandria, can live here. 

Jackson: Collaboration. Alexandria will continue to achieve by continuing to work with our community and regional partners in order to overcome the challenges that we as a community have faced together this past year and re-open our schools and economy.

Lewis: The people who live here. My entire campaign is built around engaging more Alexandrians in the process so the best ideas move forward.

McPike: Alexandria’s greatest strength is the engagement, civic-mindedness and progressivism found among our diverse residents. I will work to ensure residents are listened to and empowered.

Moran: Our community’s collective knowledge and experience are second-to-none. It must be respected and heard so Alexandria can lead the way in grappling with common issues.

Rossello: Our neighborhoods. Council needs to work more closely with civic/homeowner’s associations to arrive at solutions that preserve or enhance the quality of life for residents.

Shiffer: Its engaged citizenry. We could enhance it by making sure that their feedback is heard and used to improve decisions and find compromise.

Teklu: Alexandria’s greatest strength is its diversity. I will ensure that minority voices are elevated and will work to preserve the city’s rich African American legacy.

What’s the first thing you’d propose if you’re re-elected to City Council?

Aguirre: If re-elected, I will continue to work to ensure that the ideas and policies I have advanced to make our government more accessible/inclusive become permanent.

Bagley: Expand on the 2020 Housing Summit. Address not only units but investment in green spaces, transit connections, food access, childcare and community safety.

Campbell: A review of all policies/ordinances. We need to ensure scheduled updates of all strategic, operational, department and small area plans and emphasize the value of diversity and equity.

Chapman: Convene an Alexandria Small Business Recovery Task Force to frame the policy changes and initiatives that will aid in the recovery of Alexandria’s business community.

Gaskins: An interactive GIS system on our city website that allows residents to easily access information and resources, as well as share pictures/stories by neighborhood. 

Harris: Pass equity initiatives, like a Black-owned business association, a Serve Here: Live Here program and work to get the 61% of ACPS students on Free And Reduced Meals off of the program.

Jackson: With INOVA’s relocation to Landmark, several parcels of land off of Seminary Road are now primed for a new school location. We need to be proactive and start planning before we miss the opportunity.

Lewis: A standardized mechanism for organizing, documenting and recording community input that’s presented to council and relevant boards in advance of decision-making.

McPike: Internet access is an economic and educational necessity and an equity issue. I would propose ending Comcast’s broadband monopoly to improve competition and lower prices.

Moran: Alexandria must embrace connectivity and leverage it to improve quality of life and empower our civic associations to have a greater role in policy making.

Rossello: That council assesses the performance of every major city department in listening to, and acting upon, the preferences of residents most affected by their decisions.

Shiffer: Funding of universal pre-k and immediate infrastructure to mitigate flooding.

Teklu: Re-imagining how the city gathers input from the Alexandria community. Issues are solved most efficiently when our community designs solutions together with the city. 

Which personal contribution that you have made in Alexandria are you proudest of?

Aguirre: Leading Alexandria’s census efforts and securing millions of dollars in federal funding for our schools, roads, small businesses and families for the next decade.

Bagley: Co-leading a postcards-to-voters campaign that resulted in Alexandrians writing to thousands of voters around the Commonwealth and increasing civic engagement in our community.

Campbell: Serving on the School Board, working with council to significantly improve understanding, respect and camaraderie, as well as leading the effort to name the Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School.

Chapman: I am a proud dad, excited to raise my son in my hometown. I want the best for him and all of Alexandria’s kids.

Gaskins: I’m particularly proud that I was able to get equity added as a criteria to the Transportation Commission’s review of its long range plan. 

Haarris: Rebuilding the ARHA Resident Association and organizing to get more working-class people and people of color involved where decisions are made, like boards and commissions. 

Jackson: I continue to lead on school decisions such as the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School design and implementation project and, as a union sister, in advocating for and adopting the first collective bargaining agreement in the Commonwealth in more than 40 years.

Lewis: Solving problems and making neighborhoods safer on the Traffic and Parking Board.

McPike: As a member of the Alexandria Economic Opportunities Commission, I helped advocate for expanded affordable housing, including the redesigned Ramsey Homes building.

Moran: Creating jobs through my business, TLC, developing the ResilientALX Charter, and serving in the Medical Reserve Corps as a vaccinator assistant.

Rossello: Successfully lobbying council to build a number of playing fields, increasing capacity and safety, while establishing a scholarship fund for young soccer players from vulnerable communities.

Shiffer: I have served on the gang task force and on the board of my civic association as a matter of due course. I would be proud to have the opportunity to serve the city at large.

Teklu: I am proud of the work my family’s nonprofit, Wegene, did during the COVID-19 pandemic. We mobilized support for vulnerable Alexandria families by providing groceries and income assistance.

What qualifies you to be elected/re-elected to City Council?

Aguirre: My thoughtful, hands-on approach to translating the reality on the ground into efficient and effective policy that meets the needs of residents and businesses.

Bagley: A demonstrated commitment to service with the Alexandria Democratic Committee, leadership role with Moms Demand Action and my education and professional experience in the law and housing.

Campbell: Relevant experiences. I have lived in seven states; raised three children; had a commended engineering career; received paralegal training and provided years of service in Alexandria, including six years on the School Board.

Chapman: I have the vision, the experience and the foresight to know what’s worked, what hasn’t and what will help us to move forward.

Gaskins: My public health and urban planning make me uniquely qualified. Creating a healthy community requires our housing, education, business, and transportation policies to work together. 

Harris: My background. I’m a minister, organizer, coach, small business owner and father of four girls attending ACPS. I’ve spent the last 10 years fighting for equity in Alexandria.

Jackson: As a proud Alexandrian, I am a dedicated leader, committed to advocating for our community, and a lifelong learner experienced at multiple levels of local government to keep our city moving forward.

Lewis: My campaign is built around engaging Alexandrians, so the best ideas move forward. I know how to bring people together and find the win-win-win.

McPike: I have spent 10 years working for a better Alexandria as an active Democrat and member of multiple city commissions, including the budget advisory committee.

Moran: My devotion to ensuring that Alexandria is the greatest small city in the world offering the best services and delivering the highest quality of life.

Rossello: Experience: 30 years of contributing to the community, 35 years in management consulting, including work with 20 local governments and seven years on the city’s budget committee.

Shiffer: My experience. I am a father of two in ACPS and a successful artificial intelligence tech executive and former professor. I solve problems for a living and do it well.

Teklu: My experience as a technology consultant, nonprofit manager and advisory board member allows me to bring a fresh, data-driven, people-centered perspective to the Alexandria City Council. 

What is the city’s greatest area of need as it continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic? How would you address it?

Aguirre: An equitable recovery. I’ve successfully fought for better communication to our diverse residents and businesses as well as setting base lines to improve data tracking.

Bagley: Financial shortfalls for households and individuals that requires flexible, accessible and equitable funding of relief programs delivered swiftly and with minimal administrative hurdles.

Campbell: Serving all citizens to the greatest extent possible. We have to overcommunicate the facts and truth, maximize external income and seek continuous improvements and excellence in everything we do.

Chapman: Ensuring kids return to five-day in person learning safely based on science. I will work with ACPS to make certain this is achievable by fall.

Gaskins: We must focus on small business recovery – especially for women and minority-owned businesses – through tax and regulatory changes, marketing, grants and recovery plan development. 

Harris: Equity. We need to ensure that marginalized communities get equitable allocation of vaccines and financial resources.

Jackson: Alexandria should improve its overall public communication, be constant and consistent in its messaging, with more social media messaging, language interpreters, signage and overall mutual correspondence.

Lewis: Closing COVID-19 learning gaps. We need to invest in programs that ensure our young people can continue learning now, next month and into the future.

McPike: Alexandria must work with state, federal, and non-profit agencies to ensure that the post-pandemic economic recovery is equitable and inclusive of low-income Alexandrians.

Moran: Mental health and the opioid crisis have only worsened during the pandemic. We must invest in social services that support our residents in need.

Rossello: The city has done a reasonable job on a once-in-a-century event. We must use federal dollars to support vulnerable communities, tenants, landlords and small businesses.

Shiffer: Vaccinating our population in order to get all of our children safely back in school. Full court press on vaccinations.

Teklu: Addressing Alexandria’s growing eviction crisis is our city’s greatest obligation. I will advocate for a proactive approach to identify at-risk residents and increase investment for assistance programs

What is the best approach to address the city’s affordable housing challenges?

Aguirre: We have to use all the tools in the toolbox. Until the state expands local authority we’re left with the limited means that we have.

Bagley: Public-private partnerships with long-term commitments to affordability and thoughtful design. Investment in first-time homeowner programs allowing people to move beyond the rental market.

Campbell: The city should consider an “all of the above” approach in an attempt to slow capitalism and inject compassion. Reduced housing options significantly reduces diversity.

Chapman: We must take a multi-pronged approach. Continuing to be creative by expanding public-private partnerships and holding developers more accountable for housing contributions is a start.

Gaskins: Focus on protection, production and preservation of affordable housing grounded in healthy housing principles. We must also help families build wealth and expand homeownership opportunities. 

Harris: Engage residents. Ensure increased density is tied to greater affordability, build affordable units near transit, allow ADUs, use publicly owned land and negotiate more assertively with developers.

Jackson: We need to bring a variety of housing options to areas within the city, as we balance different rates of marketability and consider residents’ age and socioeconomic status.

Lewis: Keep our all-of-the-above approach, expand public-private partnerships and focus on affordable homeownership so families build generational wealth. 

McPike: Tackling this challenge will require a broad approach including higher affordable unit requirements for redevelopments, directly subsidized rents, dedicated affordable buildings and carefully added density.

Moran: A truly sustainable solution requires that we address affordable housing challenges not in a vacuum, but rather regionally to ensure affordability along public transportation routes. 

Rossello: First, set our own goals, rather than simply comply with those of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments. Then, expand subsidies for existing residents being priced out.

Shiffer: A public/private partnership that provides housing with investment dollars, rent subsidies from the city and equity to residents to help them out of affordable housing.

Teklu: An inclusionary zoning ordinance is my preferred approach. I believe we should have all new Alexandria residential developments include affordable homes for rent or sale. 

What do you hope the city looks like in five years? Ten years?

Aguirre: Businesses and jobs returning, housing options for all income levels and a diverse, inclusive city where all can thrive and live a sustainable life.

Bagley: The diverse, inclusive and equitable place that we aspire for in our stated policies by expanding housing, increasing public safety and investing in schools.

Campbell: Vibrant everywhere with multi-ethnic, multi-cultural folks shopping, dining and interacting via multi-modal travel options. I hope we have harmonious rental/purchase housing options and thriving businesses and arts. Ecologically healthy and sustainable.

Chapman: Post pandemic, I want our residents re-skilled and ready for the 21st economy and I envision a modernized digital infrastructure, shaped by our Master Plan.

Gaskins: As we emerge from one of the most difficult times in history, we need to design a healthier Alexandria that is affordable and equitable.

Harris: What matters most is that the people who built Alexandria can still live in Alexandria. We need to restore communities of color that we’ve lost.

Jackson: Open and vibrant. I envision harmony with a mixed use of residential and commercial properties; lots of green open space with parks and trails; inviting tourism; solid infrastructure; and modern design and amenities intertwined appropriately with Old Town’s historic charm.

Lewis: Five years: We are well on our way to addressing today’s problems. Ten years: Today’s problems are solved and we’re building a sustainable future.

McPike: I hope that in 10 years Alexandria will be a vibrant model of progressive values by being inclusive, affordable, environmentally conscious and economically equitable.

Moran: Alexandria’s neighborhood associations will be inclusive and equitable. Representatives will be engaged and regularly report on quality-of-life measures that will direct policy and public investment.

Rossello: We don’t have to dramatically grow our population to achieve our goals and live our values. We need more focus on neighborhoods and attracting people to experience Alexandria.

Shiffer: I hope that it maintains its diversity and areas with unique personalities and remains non-homogeneous. We need better connections between its neighborhoods, especially the West End.

Teklu: In 10 years, I hope to see us driving change and innovation forward. I want to see a clean, connected, inclusive, safe and vibrant Alexandria.

How do you plan to address issues of race and social equity in the city, if at all?

Aguirre: I have proposed expanding our Race and Social Equity Office and will continue to advocate for the creation of an Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Bagley: Equity can only be achieved by acknowledging its role in all contexts. Policing, education, housing and economic policies must be tested and designed toward that goal.

Campbell: Knowledge and truth are the keys. It begins with the acknowledgement of real history and its impact on today’s society. I will always endeavor to overcommunicate truth.

Chapman: Race and social equity issues are real in Alexandria. I will host a series of community conversations to identify root causes and innovative solutions.

Gaskins: I will lead efforts to eliminate racial disparities, center the voices of those affected in decisions and allocate resources to address root causes of inequities.

Harris: Launch an Office of Racial and Social Equity, create Black and Latinx owned business associations and examine boards and commissions to ensure they represent our full community.

Jackson: I am proud to have advocated for and moved forward the “ALL Alexandria” Resolution, which now becomes an action item as the social and equity lens is implemented at every level of our city to ensure fairness and justice for all.

Lewis: Representation is critical and diversity is our greatest strength. I want to find ways to engage often unheard Alexandrians in the process.

McPike: I will work with the city’s equity officer to identify services with disparate outcomes by race and work to understand why and seek to do better.

Moran: Alexandria’s neighborhoods must be safe, and our schools must be world-class. Investing in our students and their future is the best way to create a more equitable and prosperous community for all Alexandrians.

Rossello: Continue the city’s 50-year fight for the rights and better futures of all of our residents.

Shiffer: Funding universal pre-k and funding and directing improved city services to underserved areas of the community such as the West End and Arlandria.

Teklu: To address inequity, I plan on championing data transparency to drive longterm change in proactively addressing disparities regarding education, employment, housing, policing, sustainability and vaccinations.

Do you believe more policing reform needs to be pursued in the Alexandria Police Department?

Aguirre: We’re in a unique position to reimagine public safety as a whole in our society and we have already taken active steps to do so.

Bagley: Yes. We should continue to address methods that will encourage de-escalation, appropriate and equitable responses to non-criminal interactions and accountability to a review board.

Campbell: Yes. Reform includes educating our police and our entire community in terms of how past practices have led to real and perceived detriment.

Chapman: Yes, we need to continue the conversations we started in 2020 around increased transparency and accountability to the residents and what that should look like.

Gaskins: Yes, there is always room for improvement. We should immediately look to approve the police review board, improve community engagement and transparency in data sharing. 

Harris: Yes. Ensuring that best practices of policing are implemented is vital for communal trust of the police and vice versa. Civilian oversight and participation is key. 

Jackson: I am proud of our APD. I believe our council’s adoption of the Community Policing Review Board is a good first step.

Lewis: We should continue efforts that strengthen public trust. We need to keep top talent, ensure accountability and provide ways for first responders to live in Alexandria.

McPike: I support a strong citizens’ oversight board, which will close the gap and build trust between the public and the police.

Moran: We have an excellent police force. I support community policing, transparency initiatives and leveraging technology so our police officers can focus on safety.

Rossello: Yes, due to the national climate. That said, I support our police department, which is distinguished as one of the longest-standing accredited departments in the U.S.

Shiffer: I believe that the Alexandria Police Department is responsive to community concerns, including restorative justice. Passage of the citizen police review board will provide substantial oversight.

Teklu: In Alexandria, police pull over Black residents at twice the rate of the total population. I support the establishment of a Community Policing Review Board.

Do you agree with the creation of a “drug court” to prioritize treatment over punishment for possession of drugs? Do you view this as an equity issue? Explain.

Aguirre: This is definitely an equity issue. We need to prioritize addressing social and mental health needs rather than take a punitive approach.

Bagley: Yes. It should be our default approach recognizing drug use as a public health issue and the history of inequitable punishment for drug-related offenses.

Campbell: Yes. Drug addiction is an illness, possession with intent to distribute, a crime. We’ve historically over punished addicts who disproportionately were low-income people of color.

Chapman: I do. We’ve seen far too many disparities in our justice system that impact Black and brown communities. We need to review current best practices.

Gaskins: Yes. I would support this policy, as the data clearly demonstrates a disproportionate amount of drug charges for people of color. 

Harris: Yes to both questions. The criminalization of addiction and mental illness impacts everyone, but disproportionately impacts communities of color. Treatment works better than punishment. 

Jackson: I am over the moon that this progressive drug treatment court was established. It is a life-changing opportunity for those charged with drug possession to be awarded a second chance. This “do-over” assists in eradicating their addiction and improving their life.

Lewis: Yes and yes. The criminal justice system does a terrible job addressing addiction and mental illness. We need to continue connecting people with the right services.

McPike: Drug laws have a long history of racially inequitable enforcement. I support drug courts that will move us away from punishment and prioritize addiction treatment.

Moran: Yes, our community is facing an unprecedented opioid crisis. Punishment does not resolve this issue. Only social services and rehabilitative support will help.

Rossello: Yes, and yes. The system needs to distinguish between dangerous hard-core drug dealers and people in vulnerable communities who get caught up in an unfortunate situation.

Shiffer: Yes, as drug arrests disproportionately affect minorities and low-income offenders. Restorative justice delivers better outcomes by addressing and solving underlying problems.

Teklu: I believe low-level offenders deserve treatment, not incarceration. Virginia’s legalization of marijuana is a step forward in addressing inequities within our justice system

Alexandria’s supply of affordable housing has decreased significantly over the past 20 years. Do you view this as an equity issue? Explain.

Aguirre: Absolutely! A safe, stable place to live is central to reducing poverty and impacts access to education, jobs, transportation, healthcare and opportunities.

Bagley: Housing losses are tied to policies failing to account for expiring programs and aging developments. We must realign our approach with these issues in mind.

Campbell: Capitalism, not redevelopment, is what attacks affordable housing. Council should use all tools as we attempt to inject compassion into capitalism. Nearly an impossible task.

Chapman: The ability to live affordably in Alexandria is legitimately at risk for many, including low-income residents. We must be more creative and demanding of developers.

Gaskins: This is an equity issue. We need to prioritize more affordable housing in new development, expand economic opportunities, and help residents build wealth. 

Harris: This is an equity issue. Alexandria is becoming a city where working-class families can no longer live, pushing out many communities of color. 

Jackson: Although the city and council have done a lot to mitigate the affordable housing crisis, we need to continue to create opportunities and financial incentives that find and maintain a solid foundation of affordable and workforce housing.

Lewis: Yes. We need to continue our all-of-the-above approach while increasing our focus on affordable homeownership so families can build generational wealth.

McPike: Our housing affordability crisis disproportionately impacts communities of color and lower-income Alexandrians, which is why it is vital that we aggressively work to address it.

Moran: Yes, but it is also an economic issue. We must ensure incomes and access to opportunities increase in conjunction with the increased cost of living.

Rossello: Yes. It’s an affront to a broad swath of our neighbors for whom escalating rent is a personal crisis. We need to address it as a priority, just not through overdevelopment.

Shiffer: Yes. Alexandria is great because of the people who live here. If we lose them, we lose Alexandria. That’s why affordable housing is one of my top five priorities.

Teklu: Redevelopment should not occur at the risk of displacing our diverse communities. Equity is an intersectional issue and must be incorporated into all city decision-making.

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