0
Votes

The (So Far) Undisputed Mayor

With no challengers so far, Bill Euille launches a campaign for reelection.

After one week in office, Gov. Tim Kaine made his first stop on the campaign trail last weekend in Alexandria. The location was Mango Mike’s on Duke Street. The event was Mayor Bill Euille’s reelection campaign kickoff.

“Bill has such a spectacular story,” Kaine said at the event. “But this is about his achievements as mayor.”

From public housing to City Hall, Euille’s rise to power has been a case study in determination. After growing up in "the Berg," North Old Town's public housing complex, Euille graduated from T.C.Williams High School in 1968. He received a bachelor's degree in accounting from Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Conn., and returned to Alexandria to work as an accountant for the AA Beiro Construction Company. He started his own business, William D. Euille and Associates, in 1987.

Euille has been active on the boards of the Eisenhower Partnership, Hopkins House Association, Alexandria Hospital Service Corporation, Northern Virginia Urban League and the Alexandria Scholarship Fund. He served on the School Board from 1974 to 1984, and he was first elected to the City Council in 1994. In 2003, Euille was elected mayor of Alexandria.

His first term as mayor included battles over affordable housing, open space and steadily rising property tax bills. Now, facing a campaign for reelection as Alexandria’s mayor, his grip on the city’s politics seems airtight. No opponents have yet emerged to challenge the Democratic candidate.

“Let’s keep a good thing going,” Euille asked a standing-room-only crowd at Mango Mike’s. “Will you hire me for another four years?”

With the May 2 election months away, other candidates could still emerge to challenge him. The deadline for Republican candidates to file with the Alexandria Republican City Committee is Feb. 4, and the deadline for independent candidates to file with the city’s registrar is March 7.

“Right now, we’re trying to put together a fun, aggressive campaign,” said Greg Roberts, Euille’s campaign manager. “We want to fulfill Bill’s dream of having one Alexandria.”

“ONE ALEXANDRIA” is the mayor’s campaign theme, intended to highlight a sense of inclusiveness. When asked about his achievements as mayor, Euille responded by describing his willingness to work with others as the main reason that voters should reelect him in May.

“I’ve been successful in bringing together folks with diverse backgrounds,” Euille said. “But there’s so much unfinished business.”

The speech he delivered at Mango Mike’s included a laundry list of future priorities: expanding the city bus schedule, providing support for residents of public housing, creating an academic hub to revitalize troubled neighborhoods and establishing water taxis across the Potomac River.

After the event, former City Manager Vola Lawson said that the mayor enjoys widespread support in the community.

“He’s a great hometown success story,” she said. “He’s used his community-wide support to lead the council into adoption of worthwhile projects and programs.”

The upcoming budget process could be difficult for Euille — especially in an election year. Rising property tax bills and the steadily increasing cost of government have created anger in the electorate. That could spell trouble for Euille if he’s not able to deliver a tax rate that is acceptable to voters who feel that government spending has spiraled out of control.

“The financial plan we have in place is not sustainable,” said Peter Dykhuis, who spoke at City Hall last year to protest rising property tax bills. “If Euille is going to be a successful mayor, he’s going to have to make decisions that are unpopular. More of the same is not what Alexandria needs.”