City of Alexandria Elections: In the Race for Mayor and Council

City of Alexandria Elections: In the Race for Mayor and Council

Wilson unopposed for mayor; nine others compete for remaining six seats.

While, practically speaking, the June Democratic primary probably decided the next City Council, the buzzer doesn’t sound until Nov. 6. Here are updated profiles for the 10 candidates still in the running.

Alexandria’s City Council includes seven members, one of whom serves as mayor and is elected on a separate ballot. The mayor’s power consists primarily in running meetings. But the office isn’t analogous to the executive branch in higher levels of government. He or she doesn’t exercise any veto power, and his or her vote doesn’t count any more than the other members’.

Vice Mayor Justin Wilson defeated Mayor Allison Silberberg in the Democratic mayoral primary. Without a Republican contender, he’s running unopposed in November.

Nine candidates will vie for the remaining six seats. They include six Democrats, winnowed from 12 who ran in the primary, two Republicans and one Independent.

Before the June primary, the Gazette Packet published detailed candidate profiles, including statements from the candidates about their relatively highest and lowest priorities. For this second iteration, the candidates were asked if anything’s changed in the intervening months. A few indicated substantive shifts. While Redella “Del” Pepper (D) said in June that her lowest relative priority was historical preservation and the arts, now she says everything’s a priority. Whereas Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D) previously said her highest relative priority was to bolster public education, now she says it’s to bolster business and the tax base. While Kevin Dunne (R) previously said his highest relative priority was to restore Alexandria’s business competitiveness, now he says it’s to streamline the city’s process of deliberating policy.

For those who qualify, early absentee voting has already begun. Vote in-person absentee at the Voter Registration Office (132 North Royal St.) or Beatley Library (5005 Duke St.). The deadline for in-person absentee voting is 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3. Apply for an absentee ballot by mail by visiting, entering your identification information and following the subsequent prompts. The deadline for applying for an absentee ballot by mail is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Vote in person at your appointed polling place between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. However, to avoid potential parking challenges and long waits, the registrar recommends voting between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. if possible.

For more information, including a map of polling places, visit or call Alexandria’s Office of Voter Registration and Elections at 703-746-4050.

Campaign finance information comes from the Virginia Public Access Project (, a nonpartisan nonprofit focused on voter education.

For City Council

Canek Aguirre


Canek Aguirre is a community advocate and progressive leader with a track record of building coalitions to amplify the voices that aren’t always heard. A former ACPS employee, he currently works to improve health outcomes across Northern Virginia.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: Over 90 percent of affordable housing has been lost since 2000. Whether through zoning ordinances and awarding density bonuses or through proposed dedicated funding such as the 1 percent meals tax and restoring the full penny set aside, we must take action now.

Lowest: There are many issues that impact every Alexandrian and require us all working together to identify solutions. Every decision Council makes should be informed by bringing all stakeholders to the table so that all voices are heard.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $26,527

Elizabeth Bennett-Parker


I help lead TWB, a nonprofit job training program for women in need. I founded a small business that reduced food waste by transforming “ugly” fruit into healthy snacks. I am a Fulbright Fellow and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: We must make sure we are helping small businesses grow and attracting other businesses. We need to diversify our tax base so we do not rely so heavily on residential property taxes and can afford the many infrastructure issues we need to address, from our school facilities to public transportation.

Lowest: Issues surrounding core city services, like public safety, education, and transportation should come before recreation, which is something we can partner with other organizations to address.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $56,302

John Taylor Chapman

Democrat, Incumbent

I am an educator, business owner and fourth generation Alexandrian who is devoted to improving my hometown. I believe that we need to be a place to raise a family, afford housing, have access to quality education, start a business, and thrive.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: My highest priority issue is protecting housing affordability. I have advocated for a dedicated funding in order to fund the city’s Housing Master Plan and I continue to push ARHA in its efforts to increase the number of affordable housing units.

Lowest: For our historic preservation and the arts, I plan to work on forming stronger community partnerships and public-private partnerships to enhance and support our historic assets and our arts and culture programming.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $45,626

Michael Clinkscale



Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: Our children, particularly the bottom half, are being underserved by the public school system. I intend to promote a competitive framework that includes charter schools, magnet schools, and homeschooling.

Lowest: We define affordable housing in a partial manner. We should lower taxes so that our retirees can afford to continue living in the city.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $849

Kevin Dunne


I am a passionate resident of Alexandria, involved in local efforts to promote healthy, sustainable, and equitable outdoors initiatives, both in my role as board member of a local bike non-profit and on the city beautification commission.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: Alexandria needs to improve the quality of policy deliberation. Council can do this with more data technology, greater embrace of resident ideas and concerns, and more input from economic stakeholders.

Lowest: Recreation, independent of a broader connection to strengthening our economy is laudable, but unfortunately more pressing issues have a more direct impact on the city's future.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $3,449

Amy Jackson


My roots are in Alexandria since 1981. West End raised, I am an ACPS graduate (proud Titan), as my two children will be. As a civic leader and educator, I have been engaged in the community and I serve on several non-profit boards and city commissions.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: We need to allocate funds necessary for School Board to increase capacity for over-enrollment, provide resources for more universally available pre-k programs, and repair our existing schools and build new ones for a safe, modernized environment.

Lowest: Although all of these concerns should take priority, we need to look at what needs the greatest assistance in funding right now. Priorities that should be established include education, smart growth, public safety, transportation/traffic.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $43,959

Redella S."Del" Pepper

Democrat, Incumbent

Born in Nebraska - received my BA degree from Grinnell College - did graduate work at the U. of Wisconsin - worked 5 years as a case worker in Chicago - married Dr. F. J. Pepper - moved to Alexandria - son Murphy - aide to Chuck Beatley - elected to City Council.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: Support for the schools and increasing our affordable housing stock are my very top priorities and I have argued and voted for funding for both because of their potential for positive life-changing impacts. I will ensure that funds are spent wisely.

Lowest: All issues areas are my priority.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $51,194

Mo Seifeldein


I’m an immigrant, lawyer, small business owner, and a mentor. I represented vulnerable members of the community pro bono and now I work with small business owners. Before becoming a lawyer, I worked as a mental health counselor.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: Improving the quality of life is a top priority, which includes a funded school system, reducing congestion, quality services, public safety, economic development, historic preservation, open space, and workforce housing.

Lowest: I'm running to bring meaningful change and to represent all Alexandrians. There are competing interests in the City. I will balance those competing interests. I will do what is in the best interest of the Alexandria.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $9,160

Mark Shiffer


Father of 11 and 4 y/o. Tech exec with degrees in Math, Computer Science and Neuroscience. Worked in defense, finance, startups, tech. Biz owner/founder. Love hard problems. Strongly believe city government should be functional, accountable and transparent.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: I propose rolling up my sleeves and digging into the enormous budgets we fund that are not adequately addressing our problems. I will work with the school board and with various affordable housing advocates in the city to make sure our spending is effective.

Lowest: Our major problems are the basics. We are critically failing in education, affordable housing, traffic, over development, accountability and transparency. These must be solved before going after less pressing issues that are not in as dire a state.

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $2,152

For Mayor

Justin Wilson

Democrat, Incumbent Vice Mayor

I have served 7 years on the Council with a focus on children, infrastructure and our economy. My wife and I live with our two children in Del Ray and I have been with Amtrak professionally for over 12 years.

Statement about issue priorities:

Highest: The success of our children is my most important priority. I will continue my work to address growing student enrollment by expanding school capacity around our City. I will help close the preparedness gap by expanding preschool and after-school.

Lowest: I look forward to continuing to tackle the many issues before our community, large and small!

Campaign Expenses (Jan.-Aug. 2018): $174,052