To the Editor:
I am appalled at the actions of some members of our City Council who appear to believe that incivility is the way to show that you are smart or clever. I do not recall this behavior ever happening when Bill Euille was mayor because council members showed respect for him and his office, even if they disagreed with him.
It would appear now that the mission of at least a couple of our City Council members is to demonstrate their belief that Mr. Euille is actually still the mayor and to undermine our new mayor as she attempts to chart her course. It is time to realize that the citizens of Alexandria elected Allison Silberberg to be our mayor because they wanted a change. As I recall, Mayor Silberberg received over 60 percent of the vote in the November election, despite a campaign well financed by developers who have come to view Alexandria as a place they could build virtually anything they desired with the support of Mayor Euille and most of the members of City Council.
Citizens like me feel that the rapid pace of development we have seen over the past decade has exacerbated transportation problems, overcrowded our schools, and adversely affected our quality of life. As we look around our city and see numerous vacancy signs, whether it be for commercial space or residential apartments, we wonder why some are still clamoring for more building. I would argue that not one person at City Hall has ever been able to provide any metric or statistic regarding the net value of our enormous explosion of residential development when it comes to our tax base or costs to the city to provide services to thousands of new residents. I would assume that, based upon our tax bills, the promised tax revenue windfall has been swallowed up in new capital projects for our new residents. Already businesses and residents in the newly created special tax districts are arguing that such additional taxation is unfair to them and diminishes the value of their properties.
Our city faces huge budgetary issues that require the careful attention of all our council members. But as I watch council meetings, I see council members much more intent upon challenging our mayor at every meeting than focusing on the substance of matters before them. I wonder why, for example, Justin Wilson sits at the end of the podium next to the city attorney instead of the seat next to the mayor where the vice mayor has always sat. I presume he is sending a message that he is unhappy that she was elected mayor and wants to physically distance himself from appearing on camera next to her. Is this a way to show a determination to work for the betterment of our city? And John Chapman has apparently decided that the way to govern our city is by posting negative remarks on Facebook. Other council members then “like” these negative posts. This shows an immaturity that should be troubling to all our citizens. Is this junior high school or the governing body of our city?
I would urge our council to get out of the playground sandbox and govern. Stop tossing barbs at each other and come together to build a better city for all of us. If you don’t, I believe the citizens will do exactly what we did with our previous mayor — exercise our right to vote and vote many of you out of office. You may not think we are watching, but we are.