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Letter: Doesn’t West End Matter?

To the Editor:

Four West End civic associations extended an invitation to Andrew MacDonald and Bill Euille to debate this fall to allow citizens to make an informed decision. As this debate is expected to focus on West End issues, the three dates available were based on Hammond School availability. Many people worked hard to arrange for these dates and the candidates were given the option to pick one of these dates. Mr. MacDonald graciously accepted the invitation on any of the dates. Mayor Euille and his campaign provided no response until asked to confirm receiving the invitation, and when they finally did respond stated that he was busy during any time slot the debate would be held.

The Mayor’s campaign then asked for a few minutes at the end of the already scheduled candidates’ forum to deliver a stump speech on behalf the Democratic candidates who debated that evening, or perhaps to engage in a 5-minute “debate.” These answers and attitudes behind them are disturbing. Mayor Euille has continually campaigned and stressed the "One Alexandria" theme, One Alexandria apparently ends at Quaker Lane. From the absentee leadership on the BRAC issues to the tone deafness over the Beauregard Corridor, city hall has continued to ignore real concerns of citizens in this part of the city. Platitudes about how many meetings have been held no longer suffice.

Candidates for office should respond directly to the voters with the questions they have. The West End deserves better — a real debate of the mayoral candidates. A couple of campaign appearances by the Mayor — under the protection of the Alexandria Democratic Committee — is not enough. While the West End is half of the land area and the city’s population, City Hall views it as a lawless outpost only fit to be paved over when the city needs cash from developers or to do something deeply unpopular. The painting of Alexandria that the Mayor sits under in the Council Chambers that excludes the West End is more than historic artwork; it apparently represents an attitude that those in the West End do not exist. Services requested by residents — like circulator buses to the Van Dorn Metro Station and parks — are unfunded while plans to cut down acres of trees and triple the population have priority.

We expect our mayor to represent all citizens and no matter how much we disagree, at least show up and debate the issues. The invitation remains open.

Joseph Gerard

Frank Putzu