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.