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Letter: Moving Forward Together

To the Editor:

I thank the Gazette-Packet for publishing my opinion columns as I’ve written on what affects our lives through my lens as a member of the Alexandria City Council, Virginia Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring and Liaison the Virginia Task Force on Local Mandates Review. My public service to you remains a privilege.

I run again for council and have served purposed on “Keeping People First to Perfect One Alexandria.” I have been pleased to successfully: (1) lead the charge to keep the tax rate flat; (2) provide hot meals to seniors on Sundays through Meals on Wheels, starting Nov. 4; (3) have Old Town Farmer’s Market hours extended; (4) secure funding to reduce the pre-K backlog; and (5) preserve the integrity of neighborhoods while honoring our history, including having secured funding that led to the revelation of graves of Black soldiers in Fort Ward Park.

I am also proud to be credited with leading the discussion that brought about a year-long study on how we use consultants and can curtail spending on them in Alexandria and saving local governments across the Commonwealth millions of dollars through my work on the Task Force on Local Mandates Review as the Governor’s Liaison to the Commission on Government Reform.

At our last city council meeting, we adopted a legislative package for consideration during the upcoming General Assembly Session. It included a request to eliminate the Local Aid to State mandate that generates ~$60 million annually for the state budget by requiring payments from local governments all over the Commonwealth, a bill that is passed to the local taxpayer directly. In my state-appointed service, I specifically requested reduction or elimination of this burdensome mandate and it was confirmed during our City Council meeting, that it has been reduced by $10 million this year with a promise of a $15 million reduction next year. While Alexandria loses ~$6 million in revenue annually due to BRAC-133 occupying the Mark Center as a result of a City Council action or inaction before my election, I have worked as a steward to save us money, both as a local government and as individual taxpayers. As long as I occupy a chair to represent you, I will continue to do so.

I have learned that “One Alexandria” is so much more than a slogan. Perfecting it is a way of life. It inherently acknowledges that there is no patent on good ideas by any artificial barrier that would seek to divide us, political party included. We are dynamic because just as we’ve collectively supported Barack Obama as president, Mark Warner as U.S. senator, and Jim Moran as congressman, you’ve supported Alicia Hughes and Frank Fannon on the Alexandria City Council. This representative party dynamism speaks to what makes us so special as a place and as a people. In Alexandria, home to America’s first president, we see what our nation’s founders intended … the inherent good nature of people and public service.

I hope that when you cast your vote you’ll remember what our collective behavior says about who we are. Make your vote, your voice count for the good based on selecting people, regardless of party, who have the best ideas and records of service to move “One Alexandria” forward.

Alicia Hughes

Alexandria City Councilwoman