2024 Voter Guide: James Lewis (City Council)

2024 Voter Guide: James Lewis (City Council)
James Lewis is one of 11 Democratic primary candidates for City Council. (Graphic/Jessica Kim)

Want to read the 2024 Voter Guide in full? Click here to be taken to all of the Democratic primary candidates’ responses. 

Age: 36

Occupation: Nonprofit lobbyist for pharmacists

Bio: I live and work in Alexandria. By day, I advocate for the pharmacists who specialize in senior care. For a decade-plus, I’ve gotten to know the city block-by-block, intersection-by-intersection working with neighbors to make roads safer for everyone. I live on the West End with my husband, Trevor.

Rank the following issues from most to least important:

  1. Equity
  2. Ethics
  3. Commercial tax diversity
  4. Affordable housing
  5. Historic preservation
  6. Economy/inflation
  7. Increasing density
  8. Environmental protection
  9. Crime/safety
  10. Other

What’s the biggest problem facing Alexandria right now?

Diversifying our economic tax base is a necessity to pay for the services Alexandrians need and deserve. We need to relieve the pressure of renters and homeowners because this matter directly relates to our affordable housing crisis.

What’s your top policy priority?

Ensuring mental health is accessible and fundamental to
our local public health planning.

What qualifies you to be elected?

Through the Traffic and Parking Board, I’ve gotten to know this city block-by-block, intersection-by-intersection. Working with neighbors, we’ve made this city safer for everyone to move around in. While it’s not mission complete, zero traffic fatalities in 2023 was a good start.

What’s the city’s biggest long-term challenge?

Remaining an affordable community as we grow desirability.

What is Alexandria’s greatest strength and how would you utilize it?

I know how to bring people together and get things done. Working on Capitol Hill and through the statewide Young Democrats, I’ve honed the skills necessary to build consensus, engage all voices and get things done.

How should the city work to diversify the commercial tax base?

We can add investments in Visit Alexandria and Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and cut red tape. We need a robust retail base. I want to pursue a local retail incubator. Let’s create a space where our local retailers can get started, establish cash flow and build a client base before opening their own space. Our real opportunities exist in North Potomac Yard, Eisenhower Valley and the Potomac River Generating Station site.

What policies would make Alexandria safer?

Retaining and recruiting more qualified public safety officials.

Do you think Alexandria has too much density, about the right amount, or not enough?

Not enough. Growing and adapting is a necessity. Where and how we grow are the important questions to answer.

What should go into Potomac Yard now that the arena plan was pulled?

Continue our strategic investments in an innovation corridor. I think real opportunities exist in unmanned aviation with Virginia Tech’s experience on the subject and proximity to commercial aviation. We also need to recruit businesses who are leading in developing technologies that power innovation. We want to build businesses that will be here in 2050 and 2150.