To the Editor:
I have been following with interest some of the letters and blogs about the various PACs that have been formed to endorse candidates for the June 12 Democratic primary for City Council (Disclosure: I am part of one of those PAC’s, Securing Alexandria’s Future). The genesis of these groups is the unprecedented nature of the election: (1) This is the first time in modern history that the general election will not be in May, but in November, which coincides with the presidential election and very high voter turnout; (2) It is the first time in my recollection that the contest to decide who become the Democratic nominees is being determined by a State-run primary, rather than a party-run caucus; (3) There has never been a contest for the Democratic nomination in which 14 qualified candidates have vied for six places on the ballot; and (4) The outcome of the Democratic primary will be highly determinative of who is likely to be serving on the next City Council (that is not a partisan comment, but it is one based on the political reality of the Alexandria electorate).
So commentary from various people about which PAC was started first or denigrating people who are involved with one of them accomplishes very little other than contribute to some of the less than civil discourse that is permeating too much of our community these days. The fact is that every PAC formed is meeting a need that many voters have asked for — to provide insight, opinion and recommendations about the candidates who are running. When we disagree (and this is true whether it is about elections or issues) that does not mean that one side is right and one is wrong, it just means we have different opinions. One of the things I have learned as both a participant in and an observer of the political process is that being angry at someone or something is often a motivator to become a candidate, but it rarely gets you elected and when a group of us came together to form Securing Alexandria’s Future, we were looking for candidates who had positive, strategic, long-term, big picture views of the City and were willing to make tough (i.e., occasionally unpopular) decisions about our City’s future. That does not mean that the candidates we did not endorse do not possess those traits, but elections are about choices and we made some. We think that Councilmembers Del Pepper and Paul Smedberg, former Council members Tim Lovain and Justin Wilson, and two bright and involved new candidates, John Chapman and Sean Holihan, are worthy of your consideration; and that Planning Commissioner Donna Fossum and civic activist Melissa Feld are also deserving of your vote if any of the first six candidates do not make it to your “final list.” Finally, and regardless of how you pick the candidates you will vote for, our strongest recommendation is to use your entire ballot. You have six votes — use them all.
I am genuinely proud to be part of a group of people that cares enough about Alexandria’s future that they are willing to make the effort and commitment to produce these recommendations. Some of the people participating in this effort include retiring Vice Mayor (and former Mayor) Kerry Donley, retiring Councilmember Rob Krupicka, former Councilmember Lonnie Rich, former City Manager Vola Lawson, former Housing Authority Chairman Melvin Miller, former Chief of Police David Baker, former CFO and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Lynn Hampton, Hopkins House President J. Glenn Hopkins, and many others (check our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SecuringAlexandriasFuture to see who else is involved). But this is not just a list of names of people with titles; these are people who have dedicated much of their adult lives to making Alexandria prosper ... to securing Alexandria’s future. I hope over the next few weeks as voters learn more about the candidates — from their own efforts and the information provided by the PACs — that they will exercise their unalienable right to vote on June 12 and that they will make choices that they believe are in the best interests of Alexandria’s future.
David G. Speck
David G. Speck, former member of the Alexandria City Council and Virginia House of Delegates