Letter to the Editor: Incumbents or Newcomers?

Letter to the Editor: Incumbents or Newcomers?

The Democratic Party Primary Election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 12. The ballot includes one present councilmember opposing the mayor, and 12 candidates for City Council. Four of those running for City Council are incumbents. So eight of those running for City Council are newcomers.

Should we be voting for the incumbents or the newcomers? To answer that, we need to review what the incumbents have done for us over the past couple of years. One thing they have done is raise our taxes. First they raised our real estate taxes, our hotel taxes and most recently our meals tax, the latter in an attempt to finally start dealing with the rapidly declining inventory of affordable housing for low income families. At the same time, they are continuing to destroy potential low income housing in favor of high priced residences and commercial property. They are destroying the charm of the city. They are driving away the diversity that makes a city resilient. And if we look at our streets and sidewalks, what has our City Council done for us? We see potholes, cracks, patchwork repairs, and uneven sidewalks.

I represent the old element of the city and when I look out my window what do I see? A vacant lot where an old but charming office building once sat that was originally designed as an apartment building. It now looks like a unkempt parking lot with weeds growing all over. An ideal place for affordable housing but what are we getting — a high priced hotel.

I have paid real estate taxes every year since 1975. I have seen very little for my taxes except an increase in them every year. My opinion is that the city needs a vast change. We need new blood and we need fresh ideas on how to make Alexandria vibrant again with a highly livable environment, and a new sense of community that fosters creativity and diversity by improving the business environment, improving the schools, and creating more open space for residents to enjoy.

I am going to vote for six brand new city council members: Amy Jackson, Mo Seifeldein, Matthew Feely, Canek Aguirre, Elizabeth Bennet-Parker and Robert Ray. They are young. They are educated. They are diverse — two women, one Hispanic, and one black. They are experienced in their fields; and they will have fresh ideas in changing our city for the better.

Please do your civic duty. Choose the candidates that best reflect your thoughts on the city and vote on June 12.

James Melton