To the Editor:
I don’t know anyone in Alexandria more adept at spinning a political yarn than former councilman Mr. David Speck (D). , he offers readers and would-be candidates for local office this sage political advice: “If someone is not mad at you all the time, you are just not doing your job.”
In other words, he’s saying that local officials are elected to make the tough decisions and if you (citizens) don’t like it, it’s not because the Council is not listening to you. Rather it’s mostly a matter of people “not agreeing” with each other about the waterfront plan or the redo of the West End and its impact on extant neighborhoods.
Disagreements among people in the context of working together to find common ground are a good thing. However, not listening and not looking for solutions that the majority of citizens can get behind, is tyrannical behavior. There is no doubt in my mind that the rise in rancor between citizens and their elected – and appointed – officials and the direction the current mayor is taking the city are related issues.
Mr. Speck chastises the Republicans for not fielding a mayoral candidate, rather then admitting that the current mayor has one independent challenger who has a chance of ousting the incumbent mayor, just as Jim Moran once did. I ran twice as a Democrat, so I have plenty of kinship with Democrats on many issues. But when it comes to Alexandria’s future, I’m decidedly non-partisan. In that context, I most definitely do not agree with Mayor Euille that Alexandria is being well managed when it comes to development and its posited benefits.
Mayor Euille calls the legal fight over the future zoning of the waterfront a “mere hiccup.” I think such remarks are symptomatic of a city government that wants more growth and development – all over the town -- regardless of whether it will justifiably improve our quality of life over the long haul or not.
The mayor should be the standard-bearer for an open and transparent government. However this is not the norm any longer in Alexandria. Mayor Euille’s decision to turn down an invitation from four West End civic associations to participate in a separate mayoral debate with his opponent, that would have certainly focused on issues like the city’s endorsement of the BRAC-133 project, is just the latest example of a weakened democratic process.
In closing, I think the current mayor is leading Alexandria in the wrong direction, without the support of a broad swath of the community. I will do my best in the time remaining before November 6th to discuss my concerns about Alexandria’s future, to present the direction that I think we should be heading, and to listen to your concerns and take any suggestions you might have. If elected, I will work for you, and I will LISTEN.
Andrew Macdonald is an Independent candidate for mayor of Alexandria. He’s a native of Alexandria and former vice mayor.