Your Views: Not heeding differs from not listening

Your Views: Not heeding differs from not listening
Mayor Justin Wilson. (Photo/Cody Mello-Klein)

To the editor:

I hear a great deal of complaining that the city leaders do not listen and for this reason they should be turned out of office. Now for a voter to complain that an elected official did not do as they wished and then show them the door at the next election is perfectly reasonable. But to label them insensitive takes more evidence. I do not think the evidence is there.

Perhaps our elected leaders did listen to the concerns and decided that the best interests of the city lay in another decision.

• The narrowing of Seminary Road is strenuously supported by bicyclists because it eliminated a treacherous stretch for them. The current configuration is much safer and consistent with the city’s long-term goal of eliminating pedestrian deaths.

• The Taylor Run stream restoration was approved by City Council in 2018, with both mayoral candidates voting in favor of it. When concerns were raised this year to council, they put a pause on the project. That sounds responsive to me.

• The deliberate pace of responding to the unprecedentedly high rainfalls and the ensuing flooding in the past few years might be seen as good stewardship of city resources. If leadership reacted immediately to each problem, our taxes would go through the roof. Ultimately City Council did respond to concerns.

Why isn’t there more discussion of the great leadership we have seen in city government during the pandemic? Our city faced terrible problems the last 15 months without easy answers.

I would have liked schools to open last September. However, because of waiting, ACPS retained good relations with the staff and honored the concerns of many parents who were concerned about schools opening. At the same time, city leadership mitigated the consequences of school closings deftly. Among other things, no children went hungry during the pandemic because schools were providing meals all year long in multiple locations with no questions asked about income.

I think city leadership has done an excellent job finding the best decisions in most difficult circumstances. To turn them out because they did not always go with me on every decision seems selfish and, in the long term, foolish. I want courageous leadership that is willing to make tough decisions for the benefit of the whole city. I am voting for Mayor Justin Wilson and all the other incumbents on council and the school board this fall.

-Jim Bender, Alexandria