Week in Alexandria

Week in Alexandria

Two More Democrats

The field of Democratic candidates became more crowded this week, with two more candidates officially announcing their candidacies for the primary for City Council. The two new candidates join six other people vying for six slots on the Democratic ticket, which will be determined this summer.

Waterfront plan opponent and historic preservationist Boyd Walker officially threw his hat into the ring during a Monday night meeting of the Alexandria Democratic Committee. Walker is the only Democrat on the ballot who opposed the controversial waterfront plan, which increased density at three sites along the waterfront. Although both Republican incumbents voted against it, all the other Democratic incumbents and candidates in the primary support the plan.

“I’m not afraid to take positions on issues I believe in,” said Walker. “We should also be the party that works with everyone, even if we don’t share the same opinion.”

Longtime Planning Commission member Donna Fossum also announced her candidacy Monday night, describing herself as someone who has a thorough knowledge of the city’s land-use policies. As a longtime resident of the West End, Fossum says she wants to become an advocate for a section of town that many people feel is being lost in the shuffle.

“The West End is totally underrepresented,” said Fossum. “I’d like to see some equity of representation on boards and commissions.”

June to August

Remember that June primary? Forget about it.

Because of a legal challenge to Virginia’s congressional redistricting, the June 12 primary is almost certain to be moved to Aug. 7. Not only would the lawsuit need to be resolved in time to print the primary ballots, but the U.S. Department of Justice would have to approve the new districts as a result of the commonwealth’s history of racial discrimination.

“We have to get approval from the DOJ even when we move a precinct,” said Alexandria Registrar Tom Parkins. “I would say it’s highly possible that the primary will be moved from June to August.”

That’s a move that could scramble the Democratic primary for Alexandria City Council candidates. Back in December, the committee voted to piggyback on the citywide primary for U.S. Congress and conduct a citywide primary for council members. The move would have created the first ever citywide primary for City Council seats, which are usually chosen in a firehouse caucus at a single location dominated by party members. Now that the primary is probably moving from June to August, some are calling for the primary to be ditched in favor of an old-fashioned caucus.

“There’s a disadvantage in having the Republican ticket set while our candidates are still engaged in a primary against each other,” said Susan Kellom, former chairwoman of the Alexandria Democratic Committee. “Our slate needs every advantage it can get.”

Democrats decided to hold off on making a final decision, meaning the decision on how City Council candidates will be selected is still up in the air.

Happy Birthday, Library

Alexandria’s subscription library began in 1794. For the next 140 years, the Alexandria Library Company served those who could afford the annual fee. Then, on Aug. 20, 1937, the city of Alexandria created its first public library. That means this year marks the 75th anniversary of Alexandria’s public library, which began when the Barrett Branch opened its doors during the Great Depression.

“We look forward to commemorating 75 years as a public library system,” said Library Director Rose Dawson. “Throughout 2012, the library will host a number of programs and events to mark this measure.”

The kickoff event happened last month, when the Beatley Central Library hosted a forum on Robert E. Lee. More events are being planned for the rest of the year.

“Like the rest of Alexandria, the library has a fascinating history,” said Dawson.