Councilman William D. Euille made it official last Friday when he announced he was running for mayor of Alexandria.
"I don’t think that this will come as any surprise, but I just want to make it official so that people know,” Euille said. “I’ve been thinking about this for some time so this is not a recent decision but I just wanted to wait until Mayor Donley made his decision. In light of the fact that he is not seeking reelection and that Councilman Speck has decided not to run, I think the continuity that I could provide as mayor is even more important.”
Euille was born and grew up in Alexandria. He spent his childhood as a resident of public housing. In 1968, Euille graduated from T. C. Williams High School. He earned a scholarship to attend Quinnipiac College where he received bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration. He returned to Alexandria and founded a business that now is thriving, with average annual sales of more than $15 million. He is a member of boards of directors for numerous local nonprofits and contributes to still others. He also serves on the Metro Board, the Board of INOVA healthcare systems and the Board of the United Way of the National Capital Area.
“The city is facing a number of issues over the next few years,” Euille said. “Transportation, of course, is going to require a good deal of attention. Because of our size and location, Alexandria has always had transportation issues. With the state’s current budget crisis and the problems with VDOt, they are only going to be harder to solve. I believe that we will see a number of projects either cancelled or put on hold.”
He spoke specifically about the straightening of the Monroe Avenue Bridge and the building of an Eisenhower-Duke connector. “Certainly we could have a problem with state funding for the straightening of the Monroe Avenue Bridge,” he said. “However, I think it is very important, as that development at Potomac Yard moves forward, for the city to look for grant funding or other ways to fund the difference between the developer’s contribution and what it will cost to straighten Rt. 1. We have to connect the two parts of this neighborhood.
“As for the Eisenhower-Duke connector, that project is not included in the VDOT six-year plan but is a state mandate. We need to move forward with the planning process, look at all of our options and know what we want to do when the time comes.”
Euille understands the need to balance development and quality of life issues. “Certainly, we have made some mistakes in the Eisenhower Valley,” he said. “However, every time I drive over there, I am impressed with the mixture of commercial, retail and residential uses that are there. Just a few years ago, this was inconceivable.
“We are doing the right thing in planning for that entire area. The staff’s work on Eisenhower East has been excellent and I think we will see the same thing on the western part of Eisenhower Avenue as well. There are some residential developments that raised concern for me, but people seem to be buying and living in the units. Like on King Street, where we have always had restaurants and businesses, however, as people purchase homes in the Valley, they need to remember that the industrial uses were there first.”
While Euille supports a two-cent decrease in the real estate tax rate, he also supports a one-cent increase in the sales tax to fund educational and transportation needs. “I don’t see that as inconsistent,” he said. “They are two different issues. We want to keep our real estate tax in line with the region so that people will continue to want to purchase homes here. On the other hand, the state cannot pay for the kinds of transportation and education programs that we need in Alexandria and throughout this region. An increase in the sales tax is the best way for us to get the things we need in these areas.”
Euille is very concerned about the public schools. “We have a very good public school system and it is important that the city fund the schools at a level that will allow them to meet the needs of every child in Alexandria,” he said. “Our high school needs renovated and we need to pay for the kind of facility that will bring us into the 21st century.”
While Euille recognizes the historic significance of his candidacy, he sees himself as someone who can represent the entire city. He is the first African-American to seek the office of mayor and, if elected, would, of course, be the first African-American to serve in that capacity. “I have lived in public housing and am now very successful,” he said. “I believe that it is very important to lessen the disparity between the haves and the have knot’s in the city. I believe that I can help do that.”