A Quick Reminder – Residents Are Voters
Alexandrian Jerry Warner tells voters to pay attention to where candidates stand on development issues.
In the upcoming primary and election for City Council a host of issues will be covered. The usual topics of education, business development, taxation and other priorities will all necessarily be discussed. However, unique and specific to the future of the City of Alexandria will be the candidate’s position on development. This should be the topic that distinguishes the candidates and compels your vote.
The pattern of development with the current City Hall is now very apparent - a vicious cycle of overdevelopment, the sudden after-the-fact realization of unsafe/offensive consequences, followed by expensive and largely ineffective remedies, all paid for by increased taxes. The result of this cycle will be that the current residents of Alexandria will soon find that they either can’t afford to live here, or simply that they won’t want to.
This result is already being felt by some of our residents, specifically lower income African American and Latino families. Your neighborhood and your home may not be threatened at this point, but on our current course, it will be. More importantly, in the not-too-distant future, Old Town/Alexandria will no longer be the unique, diverse, open and inviting location for national history but rather another cheap tourist attraction.
The waterfront is emblematic of what needs to change. Characteristically, the city developed a plan that was intended to benefit developers and generate city revenue at the residents’ expense. The reason there was so much dissent was because the plan was fundamentally a bad idea, the process to involve citizen input was a farce, and then the city planning and legal staff maliciously manipulated the city charter and law to dismiss resident opposition. Where else can you find a city that, with the Mayor’s approval, is challenging its own Board of Zoning Appeals in court because they had the audacity to uphold the law and protect the residents’ right of protest? In a city with one of the highest levels of education and professional experience, the Council and some candidates wonder and complain about how divisive and unruly the public is on this issue. The answer is simple. When you treat your own citizens with contempt, they will rise up against you. The timing of this election and opportunity for change is ripe.
In a bizarre twist of national politics it seems that city Republicans are the ones protecting individual rights and looking for ways to help the less fortunate. Paradoxically, we have members of the current Council and a number of candidates masquerading as Democrats with superficial platforms that in practice will favor big interests and money. In this instance, in this election, the candidates’ party should not matter. I’m going to vote for candidates whose loyalties lie with the citizens of Old Town/Alexandria and not the developers and larger interests. I’m going to vote for those who would preserve the unique setting of Old Town/Alexandria and its historic and diverse character.
Jerry Warner, Old Town