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Macdonald for Mayor Promises Keen Eye on Costs of Growth, Development

Andrew Macdonald kicks off his campaign, promising good listening to citizens, fiscal responsibility and a close look at current and future development.

Andrew Macdonald launched his mayoral campaign last week, saying the city’s elected officials must do a better job of managing, monitoring and investigating the costs of growth and development.

“I want to improve the way we plan for growth in this city, and the way we manage our finances,” he said at an afternoon event at . “I want to see a government that will not sue its citizens and civic organizations but rather will engage in a more productive, open, civil discourse with its citizens.”

Macdonald, who is running as an independent, said he a “strong supporter” of a City Council comprised of Republicans and Democrats “and hopefully at least one independent.”

The native Alexandrian commented that he has seen the city’s budget rise from $340 million in 2002 to $585 million today and with it a ballooning debt – rising from $150 million in 2002 to $588 million today. The population has also risen by about 30,000 over the last decades, he said, and with it rising taxes.

“By the time I was elected to council in 2003, the die was already cast,” said Macdonald, co-founder of a group opposing much of the city’s plan to redevelop its riverside. “The negative impact of all this development on our taxes and quality of life was already being felt…For instance you can’t add another 10,000 people and not add any new parks.”

He praised new neighborhoods such as Potomac Greens and Cameron Station, but added: “The question is – is the kind of growth we’ve been experiencing, the kind of growth the city appears to think will sustain in the future, is it actually sustainable?...are we really getting the kind of community benefits that we should from…proposed development – the waterfront, the West End and Potomac Yards. Will these developments really contribute to community well-being?”

Macdonald promised that, if elected mayor, he would seek to restore balance politically and in planning for the future, listen to the community and do more than simply hold public meetings, offer fiscal responsibility and think carefully about the kind of new development projects in Alexandria.

Jon Rosenbaum May 14, 2012 at 11:42 AM
He wants the government to engage in civil discourse. As I recall he was the one who engaged in uncivil discourse during the waterfront debate alleging corruption on the part of the city's leaders that was unfounded. And I see nothing in Andrew's background that make him suitable to lead in the financial area. Most importantly, he still has not told us why he resigned as vice-mayor. He only says that he will not resign if elected mayor. How do we know that this assurance can be relied upon if we don't know why he previously resigned. He should be honest and transparent himself before lecturing other on how to behave.
Gina Baum May 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Couldn't agree more. You want higher real estate taxes vote for him. His record on council speaks for itself, he voted against any and all development that would bring significant revenues to the city's empty coffers.
Dennis Auld May 14, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Andrew decries the fact that the City's debt has risen from $150 to $588 from 2002 to now. First, it would help to get the numbers, and definition of numbers correct. The $588 number you state is the 2013 operating budget number, not the debt. There is a big difference in these numbers, especially if you are governing. The current debt is $477 million and the estimated debt number for 2013 has not been official issued, but is estimated to be below $500M. Much of that debt was for Alexandria to "catch up" with needed infrastructure, like TC Williams and the new public safety center. As he cries this, while leading CAAWP he advocated that the City purchase those hotly contested properties along the waterfront (8+ acres) for $100 million (his number) or $200 million (city's number). That would be the height of fiscal irresponsibility, and the bond rating agencies would crucify us. Not a good recommendation for leading our city. Andrew complains that the city budget has grown faster than the population in the last 10 years. Interesting that the largest percentage of this growth happened during the time he spent on council and approved budgets, tha t is before he quit. The current City Council has done a good job of managing our complicated city for all of its residents. Andrew only offers questions, where are his answers.
Bill Hendrickson May 14, 2012 at 10:19 PM
His statement about parks is not true. Every major new development plan has been accompanied by new parks and other open space. He wants the city to buy development properties on the waterfront and turn them into parks. This area already has a lot of parkland. His proposal would cost tens of millions of dollars, perhaps more than $100 million, and require a big tax increase. He needs to have the guts to say he favors a major tax increase to do this. But why should taxpayers pay for something that would primarily benefit those who live on or near the waterfront?
Kathleen Kust May 15, 2012 at 06:27 PM
New residential development increases the future tax burden on citizens. It costs a jurisdiction more than it brings in. It creates the negative effects of overcrowding and costly burdens on finite utilities and resources. We are one of the densest developed cities in America. Continuing to increase density is bad for the City, fiscally and culturally. Andrew is also right about our well-documented lack of parks and open space. Check out the City's ignored Open Space Master plan for facts and figures.
Hugh M. Van Horn May 16, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I'm not at all surprised that the same people who were so negative about citizens' efforts to encourage City Council to consider alternatives to the deeply flawed waterfront plan are now in a full-throated rant against Andrew Macdonald's campaign for mayor. Never mind that City staff and City OCuncil seem determined to cram over-dense development into every part of Alexandria. First we got the debacle of BRAC-133 -- which SHOULD have been sited near a transportation hub but which was moved miles away to satsify the desires of a developer. Then it was the fiasco of the waterfront "plan." Next it was high-rise development in Arlandria. Now we have yet more bowing to the wishes of developers in the West End, over strenuous objections from the citizens who currently live there but soon will be unable to do so. And coming soon to a site near you will be the Potomac Yard Metro -- which City Council proposes to fund through a risky finacning scheme that will leave Alexandrians on the hook for future tax increases for years if not decades to come. Is it any wonder that Alexandria's citizens want a fresh alternative in City Hall? I have no doubt that developers and their apologists will pull out all the stops in seeking to malign Andrew Macdonald so that politicians friendly to the developers' interests will continue to occupy City Hall. However, if you care about the quality of life in Alexandria, please join us in voting FOR Andrew Macdonald in November.
JamesOnThePotomac October 16, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I rather vote for MacDonald than a Mayor who is asking the City to pick up the tab for a Metro Station in Potomac Yards at the tune of over a half billion dollars.

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