Our city deserves better than profane O’Connell

Our city deserves better than profane O’Connell
(Graphic/Jessica Kim)

To the editor:

Our city is in the middle of an important City Council race. While we all look for certain qualities in a candidate, including knowledge of issues and their vision for the future of Alexandria, most voters expect any candidate for public office to have a degree of civility and respect for the views of others, even those with whom they disagree.

Jesse O’Connell is a newcomer who at first appeared to be possibly worthy of consideration. But I recently learned that he coauthors an Alexandria-focused blog at alxtra.substack.com. Described by O’Connell as humorous and “a newsletter very informed by kind of a millennial sensibility,” I found his writings to be mean-spirited and critical of residents and organizations when he disagrees with their positions.

O’Connell’s writings are profanity-laced and include personal attacks for those who dare to question current city policies. It is stunning how low it goes and I urge voters to read his blog. The contrast between his words within his blog and his campaign words demonstrates his duplicity.

For example, his campaign words state that “places like Alexandria are sustained by the efforts and dedication of all of us who live here.” However, his blog repeatedly avers that “all” does not include anyone who disagrees with him or city decisions, and the only “efforts and dedication” he values belong to those who share his perspective on our city. In his blog, he subjects others to juvenile ridicule and biting sarcasm.

Another example of his duplicitous sentiment is when his blog declared, “Alexandria’s Hottest Club Is George F—ing Washington.” O’Connell describes those who realize the historic and economic value of our city’s unique connection to George Washington in this way, “For a city of curmudgeons who’ve made a professional sport of fighting with each other about all manner of petty sh–, we find it remarkable that Alexandrians… agree on their love for George No-Middle-Name Washington. We’re obsessed with this f—ing guy.”

I find it appalling that he speaks of our first president in such a disparaging manner and I want to bring this to light to all citizens of our city.

Perhaps O’Connell should familiarize himself with the positive economic impact of George Washington to our city from the millions of tourists who come to Alexandria to experience our history and historic preservation.

Through his blog, O’Connell has shared with voters how he really feels about our local issues and about the residents who happen to see things differently than he does.

But, in an ALXNow interview, O’Connell said he is “really good at listening to people and sort of building consensus. I’m a collaborator, and I hope to bring that to Council.” After reading his blog, it is clear that this collaboration would only extend to those who share his perspective.

Does this sound like someone who wants to hear different points of view as a City Council member?

Writing such a blog shows a level of contempt for residents and demonstrates a complete lack of judgment for an aspiring public servant. Our city needs leaders who will listen respectfully and serve as role models of what it means to truly serve all the public, not just those with whom you agree.

We need elected officials who will be respectful of others’ opinions whether they agree with someone or not. O’Connell clearly fails that test, for anyone who disagrees with his perspective might very well find themselves on the receiving end of his vitriolic and sophomoric blog for merely questioning or opposing a city proposal.

Who is the real Jesse O’Connell – the smiling candidate or the author of this caustic blog? Our city deserves far better.

-Elizabeth Clark,