Why I’m running for Council

Why I’m running for Council
Charlotte Scherer. (Courtesy photo)

By Charlotte Scherer

My great-grandmother once told me, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” It’s funny how such simple advice can change your life.

As I worked my way through law school and studied for the bar, her wisdom kept me grounded, reminding me of what matters – how a life is best lived, in service to others. I stayed true to that throughout my legal career – first as a devoted advocate for children as an attorney ad litem, then in the courtroom as assistant public defender, and eventually being sworn in as a magistrate for this city.

I worked many late nights because I knew people depended on what I did.

In my 13 years as an Alexandrian, I have always sought to engage with others. I ran voter registration drives and eventually became a precinct captain for the Alexandria Democratic Committee.

I also served on two community boards, each with a distinct purpose: the Alexandria Commission for Women and the Community Criminal Justice Board. It was on the former where I passionately advocated for women’s reproductive rights and on the latter that ultimately led me to my decision to become a magistrate, signing emergency protective orders at 3 a.m. and working closely with law enforcement to keep our city safe.

I believe that understanding begins with listening.

In the courtroom, I learned that true advocacy begins with asking thoughtful questions and allowing everyone, even the quietest voices, to express themselves without judgment. As I aim to walk every part of our diverse city, I want to keep the focus where it belongs – on the issues that matter most to you. Here’s how.

Every Alexandrian should enjoy the highest quality of life. Instead of promoting uniform density, we should target smart growth. We should direct growth towards our regional transit hubs by building sustainably in Metro-adjacent locations to reduce traffic on streets. We should also work to preserve permeable green space and open areas in residential neighborhoods to protect our neighborhoods from flooding.

And while no neighborhood is exempt from change, we should work to preserve our historical areas from overdevelopment that threatens what makes them irreplaceable. Taking a pass on the arena project was the best thing to do.

Improving educational excellence is a top priority of mine.

This means focusing on school construction to sustain enrollment numbers but also prioritizing teacher recruitment and retention. That’s why I want to establish a comprehensive merit bonus system designed to acknowledge and reward outstanding educators in Alexandria’s schools. But it also means committing to a capital improvement plan that expands and modernizes educational facilities and the creation of healthy learning environments. Let’s fully fund Alexandria City Public Schools so that our students can thrive.

And let’s get traffic on our city streets moving again.

That means significantly enhancing capital investments in the maintenance and improvement of local road networks to ensure they remain smoothly paved and safe for all users. Let’s increase funding for the resurfacing, repairing, and preventive maintenance of streets and highways where we can, addressing potholes and wear-and-tear proactively.

By enhancing the quantity and standard of off-street connections and employing smart traffic signals, we can save lives and reduce traffic congestion at the same time.

The writer is running in the June 18 Democratic primary for City Council.