Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Alexandria is One of America’s Great Cities

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Alexandria is One of America’s Great Cities

That’s not hyperbolic, this isn’t like saying [insert Mansion-laden California coastal town] is the greatest city in America. Alexandria’s history extends further than the history of America, it famously has deep ties to our Nation’s first president, and most significantly was the linchpin in bringing the Nation’s Capital to the literal swamplands to our north.

Our historical and economic development run almost as a timeline starting from the 100 Block of King Street all the way to where the street name transitions into Route 7. Maintaining this has taken a lot of good work from private citizens, as well as our publicly elected officials.

For as long as I can remember, part of what has allowed Alexandria to remain a great city, is a City Council that has been a mostly decent force fighting the battle of maintaining economic relevance in a region where competition grows by the minute, while maintaining the small-town, historic charm that exists throughout many neighborhoods in Alexandria.

Areas outside of Old Town have long been marked as places of economic expansion. This was a keen strategy for making Alexandria the kind of city that could support the small-town feel that goes with having the longest continuous Farmers’ Market in America, while generating the revenues needed to compete with Washington, Arlington, Fairfax County, now Loudoun County, and of course the newly rediscovered “National Landing.”

The Seminary Road fiasco might make a lot of residents reconsider the role their elected officials should play in their daily lives. The decision of the current council, under the direction of Mr. Wilson appear to have struck a philosophical defiance of at least 25 years of healthy growth and intelligent city planning. Council Members John Taylor Chapman, Amy Jackson, and Mohamed E. Seifeldein get a pass for passing on the “road diet.”

A not so novel solution would be a new process for electing our City Councilmembers. That’s by district—albeit unlikely, the current system creates a balance of power that could theoretically allow seven people all living on the same street to serve on City Council at the same time. However, what is not unlikely under the current system, is certain territorial populations in Alexandria not having representation in local government that fully protects and promotes their interests.

Washington, DC for all its flaws at operating a local government succeeds in at least two areas—issuing parking tickets and ensuring all residents have equal representation on City Council. Misguided ideas that greatly affect one group of citizens over the rest would at least give that population a fair process in objecting. Not to say this concept would be a silver bullet to solve all problems of government, but at the very least it might create some accountability for a City Council who for years advocated for a “westward expansion” in Alexandria, but are now reducing the ease of travel by car to the most western parts of the city.

That’s not effective government and it’s not the Alexandria our citizens deserve.

Mike Siegel