The upcoming mayoral election is simple. if you want more of the same, vote for Justin Wilson and incumbent council members. Otherwise, vote for Allison and a new slate of council members.
Since I moved to Alexandria on July 4, 1994, the school system has continually struggled with capacity issue becoming more and more acute with explosive redevelopment. When T.C. Williams was rebuilt recently, it obviously was built to meet yesterday's capacity needs vs. to meet a growing student population. With our elementary kids, the system buses them around town due to capacity issues. Every year, the council provides lip service and little real action and opt instead to borrow or spend money on discretionary projects around the city.
With every new development and redevelopment the council passes zoning ordinance variances and exemptions handing them out like candy on Halloween — to paraphrase [former mayor] Bill Euille, to build the tax base. If that was the case, the city should be able to provide ample funding to to allow the school system to meet the needs of educating our public school kids. Additionally, if this was the case, then our first responders should be receiving pay that parallels other local jurisdictions.
With that, it is laughable for a council member or Planning Commission member to say they are not in the pockets of developers. The evidence can be found in every quadrant of the city. Why council members take the time to voice concerns of dissenters is laughable when they always vote the party line. It begs the question, why bother with elections, just let the city democratic committee run the city.
Maintaining the historical ambiance of Old Town? Its Federalist facade obviously is no longer the case. Then again, nearly 20 years ago the city passed a plan to address its antiquated sewer system. Gibbon Street was redone, and then everything else went on the back burner so we could take on discretionary projects like the Route 1 transit way. That was $50 or $60 million in borrowed money that could have gone a long way towards the sewer system or a new school. So it was laughable when the Virginia passed a law forcing Alexandria in to action and the council acted shocked.
It is simple. The City of Alexandria is overdue for new leadership. My vote is for Allison, but there is also a third choice for mayor and there are plenty of new candidates to put fresh faces on the council. Redevelopment is fine, but let's make sure it fits and not look like it was transplanted from another state. The future of our schools and retention of our first responders depend on and require new leadership for our city.
Ruben "Bill" Duran