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Votes

Letter: Democracy Means Voting

— To the Editor:

We are now entering the final weeks of political campaigns for local offices that provide truly historic opportunities for Alexandrians. For the first time, local elections in the city will be held at the same time as the national elections. It is also a time when the city is facing decisions that can have major impacts on the lives of citizens for decades to come. For this reason, it is essential that the critical local issues not be overshadowed by the larger national political issues.

For at least two decades, city leaders have promoted development as a way to lower residential taxes. This has not happened. Instead of lowering taxes, we have experienced almost uncontrolled development in every section of Alexandria. From the traffic debacle associated with BRAC-133 to the push to develop high-rise apartments in Arlandria to the spectacle of enormous, so-called “boutique” hotels crowding the waterfront to development in the Beauregard corridor, the city has been overrun with development. We need to throw out the leaders who have pushed this failed policy and replace them with leaders who are willing to listen seriously to the concerns of citizens. We also need to reject this failed policy itself and replace it with a truly open dialogue that seeks out and addresses the concerns of residents.

For example, residential areas like the Hamlets, which are slated to be destroyed in developing the Beauregard corridor, are viable as they are right now. We should not be displacing the people who live there now just to line the pockets of developers. The city needs affordable housing for all the people who live and work here, including those who work in Alexandria’s multi-faceted service industries.

In addition, by forcing lower-income residents out of Alexandria, we are depriving citizens of the ethnic diversity and cultural richness that help to make our city an interesting place in which to live.

Furthermore, Alexandria is not just another bedroom community for Washington, D.C. It is a city with its own special history and with a truly unique perspective on the development and history of our nation.

Finally, Alexandria belongs to its citizens, not to developers. In the election coming up this November, we have a chance for the citizenry to regain control of the city we know and love. Let us look not at party endorsements but at the qualities of the individuals who are candidates for local offices. Let each of us vote for those office-seekers who we believe are most likely to listen to the citizens and to act in ways that are truly in the best interests of the majority of citizens. Let this election truly demonstrate American democracy in action.

Hugh Van Horn

Alexandria