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Donley, Bergheim Endorse Fossum for City Council

Longtime Planning Commissioner Donna Fossum holds campaign kickoff party at Tempo Restaurant.

Alexandria Vice Mayor Kerry Donley and former Vice Mayor Mel Bergheim endorsed Donna Fossum at the Democrat’s city council campaign kickoff on Sunday at Tempo Restaurant on Duke Street.

Fossum, a 30-year West End resident and 22-year member of the city’s Planning Commission, said she’s making a run for council because of a leadership void in the city created by the departure of Donley and Councilman Rob Krupicka. Both Democrats are not seeking re-election.

“The reason I am running is because I really think there is a void,” Fossum said. “I think I bring more experience to city council than some who have served there before.”

Outside of her work on the Planning Commission, Fossum also serves on the Transportation Commission and the city’s High-Capacity Transit Corridor Work Group. Fossum said she took on spots in each group consciously so work between the three could be in concert.

Like many of the 12 other Democrats vying for six spots on November’s ballot, Fossum spoke of exploring transit options and following the principles of smart growth as ways of alleviating transportation issues in the city.

“We need to think about moving people instead of moving cars,” Fossum said. “We have enough asphalt.”

She also spoke of rebuilding trust between the city and its neighbors by striving for better regional coordination to tackle transit and transportation. She mentioned the construction of the Department of Defense’s BRAC-133 in the West End and how that came into being without it ever being subject to the planning commission approval process.

“We can’t have anymore surprises [like BRAC],” she said.

In terms of education, Fossum addressed tapping into Alexandria’s well-educated populace to explore partnerships to potentially lift the school system. According to the 2010 Census, 60.4 percent of Alexandrians over the age of 25 have college or professional degrees—more than twice the national average.

Fossum also said there is a need to improve emergency services in the city to reduce response times and cut insurance rates in the city. As part of her work with the Beauregard Corridor Stakeholders Work Group, Fossum suggested the city secure a fire station on the west side of Interstate 395.

Donley said Fossum’s land-use background will be a big asset on council, adding that she is “uniquely equipped to fill” a leadership void.

Bergheim, first elected to council in 1970, said Fossum will present herself as “an even-tempered, even-handed influence” if elected.

“I’ve never seen a more competitive city council race,” Bergheim said. “With at least 13 candidates on the Democratic ticket alone, it’s going to be quite a race. It’s an interesting and turbulent time. Fortunately we have some excellent candidates. … Donna is the best-qualified new candidate for city council.”

Fossum also has picked up endorsements from former Alexandria Mayor Patsy Ticer and former Councilman David Speck, Donley said.

The Democrats will select six candidates for the general election in a primary tentatively scheduled for June 12.

donotpaveparadise March 14, 2012 at 01:43 PM
This is disturbing news. Fossum is an entrenched part of this City's short-sighted and damaging planning and development system. In an election year when the number of candidates for has ballooned in a way that suggests some in the community finally think real change is needed, a candidate who has been on the planning commission for 22 years (and yet could not prevent BRAC) is not emblematic of change. We might as well invite developers to be on City Council. Oh wait, they are already there! So, let's invite one more? Sounds like politics as usual in Alexandria.
John Arbuckle March 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM
While I respect Mr. Donley a great deal, especially for his call last night on Sherman to resign, I think voting for Fossum is a vote for the past. I thank her for her decades of service to our city but I think we need some fresh eyes and fresh minds to lead us forward. This is one of the most pivotal elections in Alexandria's history, and I'd like for us to not move into the past but to move forward.
Katy Cannady March 14, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I want to be fair to everyone. No member of the Planning Commission, including Ms. Fossum, bears any blame for BRAC. The individuals who are responsible for pronouncing that having BRAC in the Mark Center office park would be no problem are the previous city council: Pepper, Smedberg, Gaines, Lovain, Wilson, and Krupicka and of course Mayor Euille. Because BRAC is a federally owned and tax free government complex, it never needed a special use permit from the Planning Commission.
Adam Froehlig March 19, 2012 at 02:44 PM
It should be noted that the Planning Commission didn't have a say in BRAC. It should also be noted that Ms. Fossum has been very vocal at commission meetings (especially the Transportation Commission) about the negative externalities that BRAC is bringing to the West End.

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