William Euille has a legacy.
The National Science Foundation is nearing completion and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has recently announced its decision to move to Alexandria. The Potomac Yard metro station and the Waterfront plan are, after years of struggling, finally moving forward. There's a lot on Alexandria's horizon, and Euille isn't ready to let it go.
It's not the job itself, and Euille insists that his pride plays no part.
“I could walk away from this job tomorrow, it has nothing to do with ego,” said Euille. “My personal decision to run is out of a concern that the progress we’ve made will all come to a screeching halt. [Silberberg] represents the politics of ‘no’, where I’ve advocated … for the politics of ‘yes’.”
Like Silberberg, Euille urges voters to look at his past record, of which he says he’s sponsored projects and initiatives on everything from bike lanes to affordable housing. One of the areas where his opposition has hit the hardest, his stances on development, is also the area where Euille is most proud.
“I think the people of Alexandria want to keep moving forward,” said Euille. “I was a strong advocate for Waterfront redevelopment. It is and was the right thing to do. People want to see a Waterfront that they can use and enjoy … Moving forward, my leadership has the city headed in the right direction.”
Euille said he is also pleased and proud of his record on affordable housing, particularly his vision for units in a new fire station in Potomac Yard with 64 new units of affordable housing and 703 units of new and preserved units as part of the Beauregard Plan. However, when the mayor was first elected in 2003, the Office of Housing reports that there were over 18,000 units of market rate affordable housing. Today, that number is down to 6,600 units.
“The entire region has lost affordable housing,” said Euille. “The conversion from rental to condos has impact affordable housing. There’s nothing the city can do, but I’ve been a strong advocate for housing affordability.”
Euille says the fight to get the affordable units at Potomac Yard was not easy. The developer said they would be unable to incorporate the units into the development, and Euille said he responded that the development without affordable housing was unacceptable and eventually city staff was able to find a way to work the units into the design.
But while affordable housing has gone down, the debt has continued to go up. Since 2004, the city’s debt has risen from $200 million to more than $500 million, with $200 million more in debt to be brought on by the Potomac Yard Metro.
“The ones who say the debt is out of control are the ones who want to stop development,” Euille said. “It’s not spiraling out of control. That all goes to build schools and public facilities and public safety projects, like the new fire station … We also continue to maintain our AAA credit rating.”
With regards to the city’s threat of eminent domain against the Old Dominion Boat Club, Euille views the decision as an unfortunate necessity for a greater good.
“We reached a settlement that was long overdue,” said Euille. “Unfortunately the mention of eminent domain, which is a tool, was on the table. But the fact that we didn’t have to use it is valuable. There was adamancy in the Boat Club to not do anything, but now many have agreed that the move is long overdue.”
The one issue where Euille admits he does wish things had gone differently is BRAC-133 on Seminary Road.
“It could have been handled better and I have regrets,” said Euille. “We could have done a better job with that, but we couldn’t stop the purchase by the Department of Defense. Since then we’ve done our best to mitigate the problem.”
In particular, Euille said work on the surrounding road network kept some of the concerns about transit-overload from occurring.
On the issue of transparency, in particular concerns about developer contributions to his campaign, Euille is very open about a large portion of his financing, but says that has no sway over his decisions as mayor. The top two donors to the write-in campaign are Erkiletian Construction Corp. and Terra Co. Inc., both of whom donated $1,000. Erkiletian is the developer behind The Asher apartment complex in Old Town.
“It takes money to run campaigns,” said Euille. “When I make decisions, it has nothing to do with whether or how much a developer contributed.”
Before he announced his endorsement of the write-in campaign, Euille resigned from the Alexandria Democratic Committee. Since then, a group of local politicians like former mayor and primary opponent Kerry Donley and public advocate Julie Jakopic have joined him in his withdrawal from the Democratic Committee and pledged their endorsement to the write-in campaign.
“While I deeply respect our past history, I am more concerned about our future success,” said Jakopic in a post on her Facebook page. “Mayor Euille’s stewardship of Alexandria, over the last decade, along with our City Council has been how we have weathered the recession, retaining our outstanding bond rating and our services, strengthened our schools and continued to attract business and residents to our wonderful city.”
For Eric Williams, Euille’s campaign manager, there was no question about whether or not the withdrawal from the Alexandria Democrats was worth supporting the write-in campaign.
“After all is said and done, I cannot reiterate enough that [Euille] has fought strong and hard for the citizens of this city,” said Williams. “The sitting Democratic mayor, whose values have not wavered, is fighting to get the job done. Silberberg is fighting for the job.”
Williams urged citizens to consider the mayor’s record fighting for affordable housing, schools, and open space in the city.
“We’re not asking people to leave their values,” said Williams. “We uphold the Democratic values.”
Though he’s no longer a member of the party, Euille still considers himself a proud Democrat and supports the Democratic ticket for City Council.
“[This campaign] is the result of people telling me they want to see us continue,” said Euille. “We have a good thing going.”