2024 Voter Guide: Jonathan Huskey (City Council)

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

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

Age: 47

Occupation: Communications Director, State Revenue Alliance

Bio: I’m running to stand up for Alexandria’s neighborhoods and fight for our collective future. I live in Warwick Village and have a more than 20-year record of winning progressive policy at the state and federal level, of helping to elect Democratic candidates and standing with workers as they form their unions.

Rank the following issues from most to least important:

  1. Revenue for city programs and schools
  2. Affordable housing
  3. Increasing wages
  4. Equity
  5. Crime/safety
  6. Ethics
  7. Historic preservation
  8. Commercial tax diversity
  9. Environmental protection
  10. Increasing density

What’s the biggest problem facing Alexandria right now?

Big corporate interests have been driving Alexandria’s growth and development decisions at our expense. I’ll address that power imbalance and put Alexandria’s neighborhoods, working families and small businesses first.

What’s your top policy priority?

Alexandria’s economic development leans too heavily toward corporate interests, which has divided our neighborhoods, families and small businesses. I’ll level the playing field and return power to where it belongs — with the people. I will stand up for Alexandria by demanding that the wealthiest pay their fair share and we seek smart development that benefits Alexandria in the long term.

What qualifies you to be elected?

I didn’t want to or plan to run for City Council. I felt compelled to run because the Potomac Yard project did not reflect our values. The arena is dead but the process shows that collectively, this Council values corporate interests over our citizens. I am a tax policy expert and advocate for tax fairness. I will bring balance to Council’s economic policy decisions and won’t compromise our values and communities for short-term profit.

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

Our biggest long term challenge is to pay the needs of our neighborhoods, schools and working families. The only long-term solution is for Virginia to have a more progressive tax system, which will raise a lot of revenue and reduce our dependence on property taxes. It is possible if we fight for it, which this Council has decided NOT to do. Instead, they spent $700,000 to lobby for the Potomac Yard arena and eliminated single-family zoning without any requirements that the developers create affordable housing.

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

Alexandrians are hardworking and focused on making life better for their neighbors. They are our greatest asset. I’ll look to our people before betting on billionaires and massive, uncontrolled development to ensure a prosperous future. This means creating new programs to ensure small businesses can compete and help entrepreneurs start successful companies. It means we bring workers and neighborhood representatives into the decision making process on development decisions that affect their lives, address our city’s history of racial injustice by telling the truth and passing policies that address equity and economic inequality.

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

Alexandrians are rightly proud of our city and want to make sure we invest in our neighborhoods, schools, parks, transit, housing and other services. Council knew there would be challenging budgets for several years; instead of preparing citizens and lobbying for long-term revenue solutions, they bet on the arena. Alexandria is uniquely able to attract major corporate investment and support sustainable economic growth that is powered by our people but it will take a balanced approach that
respects our history and invests in local business and people versus pursuing big projects.

What policies would make Alexandria safer?

Public safety is a top priority. In addition to expanding economic opportunities, we should promote efforts that
are proven to ensure we can all feel safe no matter where we live. I’ll look to increase police presence in areas known to be problems and support expanding nonprofit programs as studies show that a vibrant nonprofit community is associated with lower crime.

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

We must respect the communities we have rather than try to impose an inorganic view of how a neighborhood should look. There are places where high density is needed and other areas where we need to balance the need for development and growth with the way people live. This Council hasn’t been willing to say no to developers. I know why: they are worried about tax revenue and meeting our housing needs. We can do a better job of balancing community interest, our need for affordable housing and development that is appropriate for the future.

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

This Council must be held accountable for their support for the arena despite clear evidence that it was a bad deal for our city and that most citizens were opposed. Attracting big projects is important, but there was nothing wrong with the established Small Area Plan for Potomac Yard. I support high density projects and hope we can secure an entertainment anchor next to the Metro station. There’s no reason we can’t live our values, grow our economy and do right by the people who live in the Potomac Yard area.