Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Consider Protest Vote

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Consider Protest Vote

According to a recently released report city hall commissioned on immigrants' economic contributions, with nil attention to any associated costs, immigration accounts for more than half of Alexandria's recent population growth.

Since immigrants are more likely to be of child-bearing age, they likely contribute an even higher share of the city's public school student growth and the associated capacity needs which the school board is struggling to accommodate at enormous operating expense (more teachers, especially for "English language learners") and capital cost (new schools and trailers at existing schools).

This, though, is not the school board's doing; instead, it is a consequence of City Council's 2008 resolution welcoming households with illegally present members to Alexandria after Prince William County, under Corey Stewart's leadership, made policy changes that were less welcoming.

City Council, back then and still, wouldn't level with Alexandria residents about how much this resolution could cost us, but folks aren't stupid, so maybe that explains why in the next city election two were voted out. City Council passes Pollyanna policies, such as Alexandria’s 2016 "commitment to fostering an atmosphere of inclusiveness," available as a poster in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Amharic, without ever even ascertaining the costs which result from having such an explicit policy, much less leveling with the tax-paying public.

Alexandria has seen recent record property tax increases, including when City Council converted the set-aside for stormwater remediation to a separate fee, colloquially derided as a "rain tax," but the set-aside, instead of being deducted from the property tax rate, was diverted to fund the city budget as a hidden tax increase, alongside now mayor-elect Justin Wilson's record 5.7 cent all-at-once property tax increase.

Prince William County has been better able to hold the line on property taxes precisely because, under county board chair Corey Stewart's leadership, that otherwise blue county was less welcoming than Alexandria has opted to be.

Even Alexandria residents who would prefer Prince William County's approach would respect Alexandria's City Council's opposite policy had city hall been more honest with the public about the associated costs. Folks should seriously consider casting a "protest vote" for Corey Stewart just to shake up "business as usual" in Alexandria's immune from accountability City Council — especially with lone accountability advocate Mayor Allison Silberberg's impending departure. If the Democrat Senate candidate carries Alexandria by a reduced margin, it will get the state party's attention and the state party will press local officials for reforms out of fear of losing statewide contests.

Dino Drudi