Amy or Alyia?

Amy or Alyia?

To the editor:

As an undecided voter, I attended the Democratic mayor’s debate last week held in the Alexandria City High School auditorium. I respect both Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and City Councilor Alyia Gaskins for putting themselves out there and running, but I left feeling that neither candidate represents my concerns. The following analysis is based on what I heard. My goal in writing is to encourage others to weigh in and help those of us who are undecided by telling me what I am missing.

Alyia, a relative newcomer to the city, is an impressive public speaker but many of her words rang hollow. She is very pro-union, believes we need more city staff, but gets points for at least mentioning concerns over tax increases and senior citizens. Alyia has impressive degrees in areas of knowledge that may help a local politician; however, she is quick to call for studies on subjects that our well-educated population could easily educate her and the rest of Council on if only they were listened to.

Amy, a “hometown girl,” sounded like she was running for the School Board. Too many of her comments concerned matters controlled by the School Board. She had no hesitancy in advocating for the school system, not the children, suggesting that unions and more money might solve the problem. Amy felt a 3- or 4-cent tax increase might give the schools what they need. Amy suggested that she listened to citizens. She is entitled to points on her Zoning for Housing positions, but she has refused to meet, email or talk with citizens over their concerns. I note that Amy was the only Council member who refused to meet with the neighbors on the 301 N. Fairfax St. redevelopment project and her opposition to the proposed Monumental Sports & Entertainment arena came very late.

Both candidates support “big government.” Neither candidate made historic preservation or citizen participation a significant part of their platform at this debate. Neither candidate addressed the importance of a synergy between the citizens and the elected officials. Neither candidate acknowledged that we are a small geographic area and impacting one neighborhood impacts the city as a whole. Minimal lip service was given to infrastructure, traffic and crime, but no meaningful proposals were put forward.

Early voting for the Democratic primary started last Friday. You do not have to be a Democrat to vote in the primary. The primary “Election Day” itself is June 18. I will wait to vote in hopes that one of these candidates will put forth a persuasive argument to help my decision. Thank you.

-Barbara P. Beach,