Your Views: Wilson, the best environmental candidate

Your Views: Wilson, the best environmental candidate

To the editor:

As former chairs and members of Alexandria’s Environmental Policy Commission and other environmental, climate and conservation professionals who live in Alexandria, we believe that protecting our environment and fighting climate change – the existential threat of our generation – are our collective responsibility as a nation and as a local community. And we believe that Justin Wilson has proven time and again that he is the strongest environmental candidate for mayor.

Since 2008, when Alexandria became the first municipality in Virginia to become an Eco-City, we have committed ourselves to building a more sustainable future. While the city has at times fallen short, over the last three years, under Wilson, Alexandria has re-established itself throughout Virginia as an environmental leader and set a bold example for others to follow.

• We were the first city in Virginia to declare a climate emergency in October 2019. Wilson declared, “The costs of addressing this climate emergency are far less than the costs of ignoring it, and local governments have a critical role to play by working with businesses and residents to avert disaster.”

• We committed to reducing emissions 50% by 2030, two years before President Joe Biden made a similar national commitment on Earth Day of this year.

• We committed to buying 100% renewable energy for all of the city’s own electricity consumption.

• We became the first municipality in Virginia to set a net-zero standard for all new city buildings, including schools, so that all new city development will be emissions free.

• We set a requirement that new private commercial and multifamily development, including major renovations, must meet a LEED Silver standard and prioritize investments that reduce emissions and water use and improve indoor air quality.

• We are on schedule and on budget to open the first new Metro station in a generation in Potomac Yard in 2022, which will get people out of their cars, one of the main contributors to both climate change and local air pollution.

• We committed to transitioning the DASH bus fleet from diesel to electric buses, secured $27 million from the state to support the transition and have ordered the most electric buses in the Commonwealth.

The next mayor will need to ensure that we follow through on these commitments and will have other pressing challenges to address. We will need to make major investments in our infrastructure to stop flooding, another indication of how climate change has local consequences. We will need to invest in reducing stormwater pollution to improve our streams and meet our obligations to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. We will need to invest more in our parks and open spaces to increase tree canopy, promote biodiversity and create more places for all to enjoy.

And, importantly, we will need to ensure that Alexandria grows equitably and affordably as it becomes greener so that all benefit. For example, we believe the new DASH network that will roll out this fall will demonstrate our city’s commitment to both equity and sustainable transportation.

If you support a more sustainable Alexandria for all, then we encourage you to join us in voting for Justin Wilson as the Democratic candidate for mayor in the June 8 primary.

-Jim Kapsis, Praveen Kathpal, Josh Sawislak, Scott Barstow, Wendy Adams, Steve Walz, Geoff Goode, Reid Sherman, Lesley Jones, Elisabeth Bradley, Mike Kulas, Marta Schantz, Humza Arshad, Brendan Owens, Linda Bailey, Jim Durham, Jonathan Krall, Joe Bonfiglio, Bridget Lowell, Alexandria