My View with John Chapman: Why I’m running for council

My View with John Chapman: Why I’m running for council
Courtesy photo

As a fourth-generation Alexandrian, serving my hometown is personal for me. For the past eight years, I have had the pleasure of serving you on City Council, where my experience working for our community, my unique perspective and my proven leadership have delivered results. I am asking for your support as I seek another three-year term.

This past year has been one of the most difficult of our lives. As the founder of a local business, I saw first-hand how pandemic-related closures affected our entire business community. As a new parent, I experienced personally the challenges of juggling family and working from home. I know all of you experienced your own set of challenges.

We need to stand together – residents, parents, educators and the business community – to define the new normal for Alexandria. I believe our resilience will allow us to rebuild and come out of the pandemic stronger. I want to help lead in that effort.

During my next term, I will focus on several areas that aim to create a more inclusive, innovative and just community that will benefit all residents, young and old, current and future. My top three priorities are COVID-19 recovery for students and small business, housing affordability and fixing our aging infrastructure.

Getting our children back to school in-person, full-time is one of my top priorities. As many of you know, I recently facilitated a virtual session with parents discussing this issue and sought input on how we can reopen safely. I plan to work closely with ACPS on this effort to make reopening achievable this fall.

Beyond reopening, we still have much work to do to improve our schools. I am committed to the future of our children’s success by expanding access to pre-K and out-of-school education opportunities, and by seeking public-private partnerships to create additional apprenticeships.

Helping the small business community recover will also be a priority for me. It is critical to create an environment for them to compete both online and with regional competitors. To get us all back on track, I will 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 and shape Alexandria into a strong regional economic community.

Alexandria is increasingly becoming unaffordable for current residents and those seeking to live in this wonderful community. My record demonstrates that I am a tireless affordable housing advocate who supports policies that increase funding, utilize tools like ADUs to help reduce the burden and remain laser focused on opportunities like Landmark Mall to bring additional affordable housing to this site. I will push for expanding public-private partnerships and for holding developers more accountable for housing contributions. The point is, I ran for City Council on this issue, and I do not plan to stop fighting.

Hand-in-hand with housing comes the necessary infrastructure to support it. This includes storm water management, effectively managing transportation needs and ensuring we have the capacity to meet the demands of our growing school system, among others. In all these areas, I am advocating for collaborative and innovative approaches.

I will work to increase transit options and pedestrian-only areas in our communities, particularly in the West End, to enable those who wish to walk, bike or otherwise get out of their cars, and those without cars to get around Alexandria, while also relieving congestion burdens on those who prefer to drive.

For schools, we must look at multiuse opportunities at existing locations such as the Greenhill property and be willing to discuss any and all ideas, balancing student safety, housing affordability and the need to attract the best and brightest teachers.

Early voting has begun. The primary is June 8. I respectfully ask for your vote that will allow me to continue fighting for you and all Alexandrians.

The writer is a candidate for City Council in the June 8 Democratic primary.