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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: What’s Best For City?
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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: What’s Best For City?

Now that we have made it through the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the start of the baseball season, and the Kentucky Derby, our next sporting challenge is the upcoming Alexandria City elections on June 12. Like the ancient Greeks and Romans in their stadiums, we are about to witness the hand-to-hand combat as the many contenders seek to cross the finish line.

And, like any good competition, we need to keep score cards to see who deserves our support. This has been a challenging three years for the city, on all fronts. So, one has plenty of issues to help evaluate the players. Pay close attention to the incumbents who have lengthy voting records (some stretching back 15 to 33 years) that need to be examined in detail.

If you live in Old Town along the waterfront, you can review which contestants supported a realistic plan for the higher density forced on narrow streets, the waived parking requirements that hurt the neighbors and local small businesses vying for parking spaces. Who listened to input from the community and who didn’t? And what about the battles for the future of the Torpedo Factory, for historic preservation, for the sewage outfalls?

Throughout the city, who supported a sensible environmental plan that encompassed all neighborhoods, including the tree canopy, Open Space, maintenance of our parks? For those near the Karig Estates, did the Council listen only to the city attorney or to the residents? Further west, what was the Council response to the 500 trees that suddenly disappeared when JBG sold its holdings to Morgan Properties?

If you live near I-395, do you remember the City Council incumbents succumbing to the Army’s plan for BRAC, which took a revenue-generating property off the tax rolls, waived the environmental assessments, radically altered traffic routes and parking requirements, and created poor traffic patterns? And further down the highway, what about the white elephant of Landmark Mall, which has made minimal progress in the last 20 years, compared to shopping centers in Ballston, the Pentagon, Springfield or Tysons Corner? And what about the poorly named Victory Center, which still remains empty after years of discussion. Wouldn’t that have been a better place to house the National Science Foundation, complete with a Metro stop, parking and easy access to both I-395 and I-495.

This election is a referendum on the six Council incumbents, the Gang of Six, who almost universally voted against any initiative by Mayor Allison Silberberg. They further thwarted any attempts at debate or discussion by refusing to second the majority of motions she offered.

So, stop supporting incumbents who have not listened to what you have to say. Break the Bloc that votes against things instead of for things with widespread public benefit.

We urge you to follow the lead of the non-partisan Alexandrians for a Better City Government (A4BCG).

Alexandria voters can no longer accept the status quo on a Council that is one of constant discord and disrespect, on the dais and toward the citizenry.

We fully support the re-election of Mayor Allison Silberberg, for her principled, collaborative, responsible and inclusive leadership. And we encourage our fellow residents to support new candidates that include: Mo Seifeldein, Matt Feely and Robert Ray, who bring the goals of better fiscal management to the city’s budget process, proven small business experience, integrity and a willingness to listen to all. (See the A4BCG website at WWW.Alex4BCG for details on their backgrounds.)

Since this is a crossover primary, all can vote, regardless of their party, and it does not inhibit your voting choices in the November election for statewide offices.

I encourage you to vote for Silberberg for Mayor of all Alexandria, and not just for technocrats, and for Seifeldein, Feely and Ray. Break the bloc and vote for 4, and no more. It takes 4 of 7 votes to pass any motion of the Council. The constant 6-1 vote is not leadership by the Gang of Six, but the failure to find responsible compromises that benefit the city and not just a few.

Kathleen M. Burns

Alexandria