Our view: Factoring into your choice

Our view: Factoring into your choice
Photo/Cody Mello-Klein

Choice is beneficial to the consumer. This is a basic tenet of a free-market economy, but it also applies to much else in life.

Students applying to college or those seeking jobs like to have multiple choices, as it enhances their range of opportunity. When shopping, whether it’s for phones, televisions or toilet paper, a choice of products helps keep costs down and tends to increase quality.

Political competition is also healthy, particularly if contested elections attract candidates of varying life experiences, political perspectives, genders and ethnicities.

Alexandria is fortunate this year to have a baker’s dozen of candidates vying for six seats on City Council, while two accomplished leaders are competing for the mayor’s gavel in the June 8 Democratic primary. Also, at least one Republican and one independent are running for council, and a Republican will be on the mayoral ballot in November.

So, what qualities matter most to you?

Do you want candidates on City Council with extensive business experience?

If so, an array of candidates in the Democratic primary know what it’s like to make payroll and help grow private sector businesses: Bill Rossello has run his own management consulting firm and has worked with Fortune 500 companies and local governments alike; Mark Shiffer is a technology executive whose job is solving problems; Patrick Moran owns a landscaping company; incumbent councilor John Chapman runs a Black history tour company in addition to his full-time job as an educator; Kevin Harris runs a basketball services company, while Meronne Teklu is a technology management consultant and Aliya Gaskins founded her own consulting business.

If minority representation is paramount to you, it’s possible to elect a council that’s entirely made up of minorities: Council candidates Chapman, Harris, Gaskins, Teklu and Bill Campbell are all Black, while Rossello and Canek Aguirre are Latino and incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson is biracial.

Only five of the 15 Democratic candidates vying for council and mayor are women, but those five would comprise a majority on the dais if elected: Incumbent councilor Amy Jackson, Gaskins, Teklu and Sarah Bagley are running for council, while former Mayor Allison Silberberg is running for mayor.

If your preference is for candidates who are on record as prioritizing input from civic associations and who want to slow Alexandria’s rapid development, several have made this a centerpiece of their campaigns, especially Silberberg, Rossello, Jackson and Lewis.

Perhaps a background in education matters most to your vote. Chapman is a current educator, while Jackson, Shiffer and Silberberg have experience in the classroom, Aguirre worked for city schools as a bilingual parent liaison and Campbell served on the School Board.

Or maybe long-time service on city boards and commissions matters most to you. While people who have held either the mayor’s or a councilor’s role have served on many boards and commissions as part of that job, so have several contenders.

Lewis currently serves on one of Alexandria’s most important volunteer boards, the Traffic and Parking Board. Rossello served for almost 10 years on the city’s budget committee; Kirk McPike previously served on the Alexandria Economic Opportunities Commission and he is currently a member of Alexandria’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee and Campbell previously served on Alexandria’s elected School Board and is currently a member of the Council on Aging. Gaskins has served on the Virginia Fair Housing Board and the Alexandria Transportation Commission.

These are but a few of the prisms through which citizens can view the various candidates and help inform their votes. The Alexandria Times Voter guide will run in our May 20 issue and will contain brief bio blurbs about the various candidates as well as their answers to a number of questions we posed.

Our paper’s endorsements for City Council will run in the May 27 issue.

We encourage residents to also view the various candidate debates. You can either catch them live or watch archived videos of the debates.

A debate for City Council candidates sponsored by the Departmental Progressive Club can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFuVWhgLFpc. The City Council debates released by the Alexandria Democratic Committee on May 4 and the live mayoral debate slated for Saturday can be viewed at alexdems.org/elections.