Why I’m running for Council

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Why I’m running for Council
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By James Lewis

My name is Jimmy Lewis and I want to be your next City Councilman. As a small-town boy from southwestern Pennsylvania, I fell in love with Alexandria because, despite its size, it felt like home. People cared about each other, everyone volunteered and shared a commitment to a better future for all.

You know that Alexandria is great; we live here for a reason. We also know that we have challenges: our tax base’s reliance on residents is unsustainable, housing continues to become less affordable, class sizes continue growing, flooding still impacts too many neighborhoods and good plans collect dust. To solve these problems, we need creative thinking, attention to detail and a willingness to engage residents to find the best ideas.

Throughout my career and service to the city, I have built a track record of reaching out, following the key details and finding creative solutions that solve real problems. I want to bring my creative, solutions-focused mindset to Council because our problems won’t simply go away by following Arlington’s lead. We need bold leadership because Alexandria is unlike any place, and our solutions can and should be the model for others.

In this crowded Democratic primary where everyone is progressive, my focus on mental health, affordable homeownership, sustainability and pedestrian safety makes me unique.

COVID-19 forced us to focus on our physical health, but we know it left lasting scars atop existing mental health challenges, especially for young people and older Alexandrians. As we recover, we need to ensure that mental health is part of our public health planning. To care for our neighbors, we need to care for their mental well-being too. Failing to do so results in increased crime, overdoses and gun violence.

Local politicos regularly talk about our ongoing affordable housing crisis. We need more units, and not just luxury condos for the wealthiest few. We need deeply affordable housing, workforce housing, starter homes and the “missing middle.” I support most efforts to expand our stock of affordable units, but we need an equal focus on affordable homeownership.

Alexandria families deserve a piece of the American Dream and that means owning their homes. It gives families the opportunity to escape the rent trap, build generational wealth, put down roots and have long-term affordability because a 30-year mortgage is more predictable than a landlord’s whim.

As a lifelong conservationist, I want a carbon-neutral Alexandria ASAP. Thanks to the hard work of many, we have an Energy and Climate Change Action Plan to reach net carbon zero by 2050, but what are we waiting for? We have a solid plan – let’s hit the “go” button and get it done. With my experience as a senior congressional staffer handling these issues, I know how to create the coalition to accelerate the timeline to 2040, hopefully 2035.

My commitment to details and community engagement are most evident in my work with the Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board. Our Board is responsible for doing the hard implementation work that makes intersections, roads and neighborhoods safer for everyone. We work with staff to advance Vision Zero, which reached a milestone last year: zero traffic fatalities. We achieved this goal by working directly with communities to find creative and actionable solutions that met their unique needs. But our work is not done, many areas still desperately need common sense improvements, so everyone is safer.

By focusing on the details and being creative, we can move Alexandria forward! I hope my vision for our city and its future earns your vote. Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns at jameslewisforalexcouncil@ gmail.com.

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

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