Alexandria To the Editor:
I am writing to take issue with some comments David Speck made in his recent letter to the editor. As a 51-year-old lifelong Alexandrian with family roots in the city that go back to the 1920s, I can offer some historical perspective. Let me address the issue of why Republicans have had little success getting candidates elected to public office in Alexandria over the past few years. Speck mentions there was a time when several Republican candidates were successful politicians in Alexandria. Yes, 30 to 40 years ago we had the Wiley Mitchells, the George Cooks, the Bob Calhouns, and the Connie Pings. But the demographics of Alexandria have changed since then. Back when I was growing up, we had more old-fashioned traditional values, conservative-minded people living in Alexandria. And some were Democrats! We had military personnel, veterans, blue-collar working-class ordinary folks, elderly people who remembered the good old days of a bygone era. Those types of people for a variety of reasons no longer exist in Alexandria. Many of them are victims of gentrification. There isn't much of a middle class left in Alexandria anymore. Those demographic changes have obviously had an impact on voting patterns.
But it is not healthy for one party machine to dominate the city. It is more healthy to have a checks and balances system of political diversity.
As for Speck's contention that "moderate" is an insulting term in present Republican circles, what about the current Democratic Party in Alexandria? Where are the conservative Democrats in today's Alexandria Democratic Party? We used to have conservative Democrats around here. Remember old Nick Colasanto? I don't think he would fit in today's Democratic Party. For better or worse, we've been taken over by the Generation X Yuppie politicians, the Rob Krupickas and the David Englins and their ilk. But within both parties, there are people with a variety of values and opinions on different issues.
Another point I'd like to challenge in Speck's letter is his contention that we all need to recommit ourselves to making Alexandria's public schools what they once were — the envy of the region. When were the Alexandria public schools ever the envy of the region? Maybe back in my mother's day 60 years ago at GW High School. In the early 1920s Alexandria began the odious policy of busing kids across the city for misguided social engineering purposes. The concept of the neighborhood school was lost. Going through the Alexandria public school system back in the sleazy 1970s was not a pleasant experience. We've never really recovered from that era.
I think we all need to take an honest look at how Alexandria has evolved over the years.
Gregory S. Paspatis