2024 Voter Guide: Kirk McPike (City Council)

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

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Age: 46

Occupation: Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman Mark Takano

Bio: I live in the West End with my husband, Cantor Jason Kaufman, and our beagle, Punky. I’m in my first term on Council, and previously served as a member of the city’s budget advisory committee and as chair of the Economic Opportunities Commission.

Rank the following issues from most to least important:

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

What’s the biggest problem facing Alexandria right now?

The imbalance of our city’s revenues and the pressure that puts on our budget priorities such as our schools, affordable housing, public safety and infrastructure funding. We need to expand our commercial tax base and carefully mind our budget. My experiences on Council and the Budget Advisory Committee make me uniquely prepared to take on this challenge.

What’s your top policy priority?

I have focused on many issues such as climate change, supporting our first responders and addressing flooding; however, addressing our housing crisis remains my highest priority. We need more housing at all price levels to ensure that the people who make our city a wonderful place to live today will be able to be a part of Alexandria’s future. I am proud of my record of supporting policy changes to encourage new housing production and the work I’ve done to help fund our
affordable housing efforts.

What qualifies you to be elected?

I have worked hard to connect with residents across Alexandria to explain proposals before the Council and to hear their input. I started the Council’s town hall program to better connect city government with the people of our city. I’ve worked with my colleagues to balance competing priorities such as housing, our schools and climate change.

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

Climate change is the biggest long-term challenge facing Alexandria. We have created the Office of Climate
Action to help us address it. We’ve made progress on many fronts, but there is so much work left to be done: We need to continue our investments in transit and multimodal transportation, further enhance our policies for new buildings and work with residents to help them retrofit existing homes and commercial spaces to reduce carbon emissions.

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

There is no question that Alexandria’s greatest strength is its people. Alexandrians are a dedicated, civically-minded, creative and intelligent bunch. Our city is powered by the dedicated work of countless Alexandrians who give freely of their own time and talents to help us take on complex problems and build consensus on difficult issues. I’ve been proud to work with commissions on issues such as my resolution to protect reproductive choice services.

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

I supported funding for an economic summit in the budget and I have also voted for increased funding for Visit Alexandria and the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, which are essential to our economic growth. The expertise of these agencies along with the economic development opportunities at Landmark, the old coal plant along Eisenhower Avenue and Potomac Yard provide us with opportunities to expand our commercial tax base. We must continue to improve our permitting processes and expand our support to small businesses, particularly historically underserved businesses.

What policies would make Alexandria safer?

During my first year on Council, I put forward a budget amendment to increase pay for our first responders and supported two historic collective bargaining agreements with them. We’re making progress on pay issues, but must do more. With new fire and police chiefs being hired, we have the opportunity to realign major elements of our public safety system, such as redesigning the beats for our police to better connect officers with the communities they serve. We must also be ready to fight for authority from Richmond to use, and then properly implement, new technologies.

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

Density is a tool the city can use to achieve things that we want on issues ranging from arts uses in North Old Town to creating dedicated affordable homes. The real question related to density is whether we are getting what we need in exchange for it. I’ve joined my colleagues in pushing developers for more affordable – and often more deeply-affordable – housing projects, as well as stronger environmental standards and other public benefits.

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

Completing the development of North Potomac Yard, including the redevelopment of the strip mall into a mixed-use commercial and residential space with public amenities such as parks and green space, remains one of the best opportunities to bring new revenue and affordable housing to Alexandria. Entertainment and recreational uses remain the most likely options for the site considered for the arena. Alexandria does not own the land, so we must work closely with JBG Smith and AEDP to attract the sort of uses for this site that can help catalyze what we want and need.