City of Alexandria Elections 2018: In the Race for Mayor and City Council

Democrats face off for June 12 primary; Republicans and Independent look to November.

Every three years, Alexandria’s front yards become a sea of brightly colored banners and catchy slogans. It’s a crowded campaign season in Alexandria. After three years of frequent clashes on the dais, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson has launched a campaign to unseat incumbent Mayor Allison Silberberg, who herself — three years ago as vice mayor — overthrew Mayor William “Bill” Euille. Four incumbent City Councillors are seeking reelection, and with Councilman Tim Lovain not running for reelection and Wilson running for Mayor, two additional seats on the council are up for grabs.

Eight Democrats have come forward in the City Council primary, from teachers to local business owners. On June 12, the Democratic primary will be held to select which six candidates will be the official democratic nominees in the general election.

So far, one Independent and two Republicans have announced campaigns to challenge them in the fall.

Registered voters can vote in either primary election but not both. The voter registration deadline for the primary was May 21, and the registration deadline for the general election is Oct. 15. Citizens can register to vote online at the Virginia Department of Elections website, where they can also check their voter registration status. All polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day.

For Mayor

Allison Silberberg

Democrat, Incumbent Mayor

Mayor Allison Silberberg was sworn into office in January 2016 and previously served as Vice Mayor. A published author and lifelong advocate for social justice issues, she has over 25 years of experience in community leadership and public service.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Public safety is always the highest priority for any city official. Because our public safety team does such an excellent job keeping us safe, I believe Council can continue to make fiscal discipline and economic development our top priority.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

All of these are very high priorities, and they are not mutually exclusive. We are now moving forward significantly with regard to all of these issues. But if forced to choose recreation or public safety, then public safety of course comes first.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

I support thoughtful, appropriate development that fits in, is to scale, and protects our neighborhoods. Increasing density is appropriate near our transit hubs, including Metro and bus rapid transit.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

I am fully committed to dedicated funding for the Affordable Housing Fund and for WMATA. I am committed to reinstating the dedicated funding for the Open Space Fund. Having dedicated funding protects these strong priorities.

Justin Wilson

Democrat, Incumbent Vice Mayor

I have served 7 years on the Council with a focus on children, infrastructure and our economy. My wife and I live with our two children in Del Ray and I have been with Amtrak professionally for over 11 years.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

The success of our children is my most important priority. I will continue my work to address growing student enrollment by expanding school capacity around our City. I will help close the preparedness gap by expanding preschool and after-school.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

I look forward to continuing to tackle the many issues before our community, large and small!

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

My approach has been to ensure that the density that we do approve is adjacent to existing and contemplated transportation infrastructure, particularly along our existing Metro Rail corridor. This protects our neighborhoods and our quality of life.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

I do not support the use of advance revenue dedication. I feel as though it distorts our budget process and protects one budgetary priority at the expense of others. It's a shortcut.

For Council

Canek Aguirre

Democrat

Canek Aguirre is a community advocate and progressive leader with a track record of building coalitions to amplify the voices that aren’t always heard. A former ACPS employee, he currently works to improve health outcomes across Northern Virginia.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Over 90% of affordable housing has been lost since 2000. Whether through zoning ordinances and awarding density bonuses or through proposed dedicated funding such as the 1% meals tax and restoring the full penny set aside, we must take action now.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

There are many issues that impact every Alexandrian and require us all working together to identify solutions. Every decision Council makes should be informed by bringing all stakeholders to the table so that all voices are heard.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

Density belongs around transit hubs and Metro stations with infrastructure that can mitigate the impact. When development opportunities arise in other areas, we need to ensure that appropriate infrastructure exists to support the proposed density.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

Significant issues arise that require immediate solutions otherwise we face long-term, debilitating problems. Affordable housing, sewer outfalls, and open space are areas that require a sustained effort to address and may necessitate dedicated funds.

Willie F. Bailey

Democrat, Incumbent

I'm a lifelong Alexandrian, 21-year Army veteran, 27-year firefighter, and I created a nonprofit focused on children who need schools supplies, coats, and gifts for the holidays. Alexandria Living Legend in 2013 for my work in the community.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I proposed a 1% local restaurant meals tax increase within the FY2019 budget to create $4.75 million in dedicated workforce housing funding. But we need to do more. So, I'll keep fighting for dedicated funding to sustain workforce housing.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Once we've made considerable progress meeting the basic needs of our most vulnerable residents (i.e., housing, education and jobs), I'll focus on supporting areas like Historic Preservation & Arts -- as City Council did this year with Freedom House.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

Now is the time to add density on the West End near underutilized assets like Van Dorn Metro Station. This will help us grow economically and remain a vibrant city. I also support mixed-use development that includes green spaces and community areas.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

The shortage of workforce housing is making it harder for the average Alexandrian to live comfortably. Dedicated funding allows us to bring back more workforce housing units and make our city a place for everyone to live, work, and play.

Elizabeth Bennett-Parker

Democrat

I help lead TWB, a nonprofit job training program for women in need. I founded a small business that reduced food waste by transforming “ugly” fruit into healthy snacks. I am a Fulbright Fellow and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I will work to address our school capacity and facility issues, expand early education, make sure our teachers have the resources they need, strengthen Council’s partnership with ACPS, and close the achievement gap.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

I have a bachelor’s in history and support historic preservation, but voters across the City are more concerned about our schools, affordable housing, the environment, transportation & development. These are critical challenges we must address.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

We have to balance increasing density with preserving the character of our neighborhoods and making sure we have the right infrastructure in place. We need to pursue higher-density options near metros and other public transportation.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

It may be appropriate when dire needs arise. We’ve lost 90% of our market-rate affordable units, which threatens our inclusivity and makes it difficult to recruit public and private sector workers because they cannot afford to live here.

John Taylor Chapman

Democrat, Incumbent

I am an educator, business owner and fourth generation Alexandrian who is devoted to improving my hometown. I believe that we need to be a place to raise a family, afford housing, have access to quality education, start a business, and thrive.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

My highest priority issue is protecting housing affordability. I have advocated for a dedicated funding in order to fund the city’s Housing Master Plan and I continue to push ARHA in its efforts to increase the number of affordable housing units.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

For our historic preservation and the arts, I plan to work on forming stronger community partnerships and public-private partnerships to enhance and support our historic assets and our arts and culture programming.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

Decisions to add density must be done in partnership with the community especially with limited land to build. Fully realizing Potomac Yards and Eisenhower Valley should be the first, and then look toward the Mark Center and Beauregard areas.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

Given the scale of region's growing housing crisis, it is appropriate for Council to consider dedicated funding to create and preserve affordability. I feel that it is reasonable to have certainty around the various plans that the city adopts.

Michael Clinkscale

Republican

Adventurist.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Our children, particularly the bottom half, are being underserved by the public school system. I intend to promote a competitive framework that includes charter schools, magnet schools, and homeschooling.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

We define affordable housing in a partial manner. We should lower taxes so that our retirees can afford to continue living in the city.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

The West End is a good place to add density and we can start doing so in a measured way in the very near future.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

It is appropriate in the funding of our safety officers, our schools and our infrastructure.

Kevin Dunne

Republican

I am a passionate resident of Alexandria, involved in local efforts to promote healthy, sustainable, and equitable outdoors initiatives, both in my role as board member of a local bike non-profit and on the city beautification commission.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I want to restore Alexandria's competitiveness, specifically for our small business community and with our tourism, and to do so in part by overhauled use of our data and mapping technologies.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Recreation, independent of a broader connection to strengthening our economy is laudable, but unfortunately more pressing issues have a more direct impact on the city's future.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

In circumstances where intent to develop has been clearly communicated to surrounding residents, fits with the character of our "brand" in architecture and history, and promotes job and economic growth.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

To meet needs, broadly defined as things without which the city and residents would be financially or physically harmed.

Matthew "Matt" Feely

Democrat

34-year navy vet, published author, professor of leadership decision-making, and lifelong public servant. Fell in love with Alexandria in 1978 prior to joining the service and finally - in 2006 - was able to buy a home & find community in Alexandria.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

PUBLIC SAFETY: Compensate first responders fairly; never allow budgets to limit method/degree of protection; use state/federal resources. EDUCATION: partner with and fully fund school board needs; expand before/after school/weekend/summer programs.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Economy & jobs ARE VERY important ... BUT ... SAFE & EDUCATED Alexandrians make good decisions re: all priorities - transit, affordable housing, ecological sustainability, historic preservation, etc., which ensure a STRONG ECONOMY and GOOD JOBS.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

Some increased density is inevitable given our geography/attractiveness. Key is to locate density to protect/enhance quality of life. Density surrounding public transport stations creates vibrant communities w/ minimal pressure on resources.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

Dedicated funding helps, temporarily, when Alexandria’s financial/budgeting process fails to prioritize the city’s competing needs. Dedicated funding ought to be used very sparingly.

Dak Hardwick

Democrat

Dak Hardwick is a community leader focused on investing education, upgrading our infrastructure, and revitalizing our economy. A civic-innovator, he achieves results with practical solutions to make Alexandria the best place to live, work & prosper.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Nothing is more pressing than education, specifically in our school infrastructure. I’m prepared to make significant investments via the city’s bonding capacity and through outside partners to make more progress on our school capacity challenges.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

As a Councilmember, I will defer to our professional design experts and the committed architectural design community on issues pertaining to architectural review and design. Their expertise should lead the way, removing the need for high focus.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

It’s appropriate to add density along our major transit lines where the existing transportation infrastructure can support growth, notably in Potomac Yard and at the Eisenhower East and Van Dorn Street Metro stations.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

Dedicated funding would be appropriate when we can leverage outside funding to meet the needs of our community. If outside funding is available, but requires a “local match,” then dedicated funding can and should be considered.

J. Chris Hubbard

Democrat

• Born in DC • BS Biochemistry, MS Architecture, VA Tech • Owner Architecture & Planning firm 27 yrs • Planned walkable, mixed use/income community • Charter/Accredited member CNU•Designed TODs • Married with 3 girls in ACPS•MS CAM Georgetown University

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Developers to pay for school, transit (with parking fees), open space, burdens. Market rate affordable integrated income housing at net 0 taxes. Walkable, ECO Mixed use development done correctly the first time: more tax revenue.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Currently 100% of residents within 1/2 mi of a park in Alexandria City.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

Landmark and Potomac Yards with regional transportation/transit connections, density includes complete walkable mix of uses/incomes: Live, work, play, eat, sleep and learn. Developer pays for burdens on Community, project done right = net 0 taxes .

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

To support a particular project on a critical path toward completion. Dedicated funding can be tricky as it can interfere with budget flexibility for new funding issues which can arise suddenly — better to be flexible.

Amy Jackson

Democrat

My roots are in Alexandria since 1981. West End raised, I am an ACPS graduate (proud Titan), as my two children will be. As a civic leader & educator, I have been engaged in the community & I serve on several non-profit boards & city commissions.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We need to allocate funds necessary for School Board to increase capacity for over-enrollment, provide resources for more universally available pre-k programs, and repair our existing schools and build new ones for a safe, modernized environment.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Although all of these concerns should take priority, we need to look at what needs the greatest assistance in funding right now. Priorities that should be established include education, smart growth, public safety, transportation/traffic.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

West End smart growth needs to be encouraged for a more robust economy. Revitalization projects have taken far too long, and we have missed opportunities for growth and revenue. We need to follow through on small area plans & Eisenhower Corridor.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

We need dedicated funding for affordable/workforce housing, education, possibly transportation. It is irresponsible to have dedicated funding for all our City's concerns, since emergencies arise. We need to be able to allocate funding appropriately.

Redella S. "Del" Pepper

Democrat, Incumbent

Born in Nebraska-received my BA degree from Grinnell College - did graduate work at the U. of Wisconsin - worked 5 years as a case worker in Chicago - married Dr. F. J. Pepper - moved to Alexandria - son Murphy - aide to Chuck Beatley-elected to City Council.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Support for the schools and increasing our affordable housing stock are my very top priorities and I have argued and voted for funding for both because of their potential for positive life-changing impacts. I will ensure that funds are spent wisely.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Historic Preservation & Arts is my lowest priority area. Only by comparison to the other priorities listed would historic preservation and the arts be given an "above average", but lower priority.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

The most appropriate locations for higher density in Alexandria are at Metro stations. Higher density allows us to broaden our tax base, provide housing and new jobs near transit hubs, and create support for new retail and restaurants.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

Dedicated funding is appropriate when there is urgent need for funds for high priority projects such as affordable housing. The funding stream is earmarked for a specific purpose, and can be discontinued when the need is met.

Robert Ray

Democrat

Hometown Alexandrian, second generation small business owner, conservationist, civic activist, studied architecture at UVA, served on boards of civic and charitable organizations for the last 30 years, taught high school for ESL and inmates.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

By July, Alexandria police officers will be receiving 10% less in salary than all surrounding jurisdictions. Let's make it at least possible for them to live and work in our City by increasing their salaries and offering affordable workforce housing.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

I want to give all civic associations, unions and organizations of goodwill in the City the tools to have a stronger voice, more connection with each other, and more influence in city government. Their collective lowest priority will be mine also.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

Increased density brings an increased load on city services and on our transportation network. A necessary condition for allowing increased density is ensuring that a development's external costs are offset by the projected economic benefits.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

Dedicated funding is a necessary budgeting tool. Households set aside money for retirement and long term goals all the time. Long term concerns like land for future parks and care for the environment require long term thinking and set asides.

Mo Seifeldein

Democrat

I’m an immigrant, lawyer, small business owner, and a mentor. I represented vulnerable members of the community pro bono and now I work with small business owners. Before becoming a lawyer, I worked as a mental health counselor.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Improving the quality of life is a top priority, which includes a funded school system, reducing congestion, quality services, public safety, economic development, historic preservation, open space, and workforce housing.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

I'm running to bring meaningful change and to represent all Alexandrians. There are competing interests in the City. I will balance those competing interests. I will do what is in the best interest of the Alexandria.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

A city that has resources problems and is unable to accommodate human services, transportation needs, and schools should not think about adding density. The city should look to enhancing the quality of life.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

When over the course of time important issues are not tackled, it is appropriate to act and remedy the city's failure to act. The city has failed with respect to the issue of affordable housing as it has failed with the sewer system problem.

Mark Shiffer

Independent

Father of 11 and 4 y/o. Tech exec w degrees in Math, Computer Science and Neuroscience. Worked in defense, finance, startups, tech. Biz owner/founder. Love hard problems. Strongly believe city govt should be functional, accountable and transparent.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I propose rolling up my sleeves and digging into the enormous budgets we fund that are not adequately addressing our problems. I will work with the school board and with various affordable housing advocates in the city to make sure our spending is effective.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Our major problems are the basics. We are critically failing in education, affordable housing, traffic, over development, accountability and transparency. These must be solved before going after less pressing issues that are not in as dire a state.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

When we are at the point where our basic public services (schools, transit, etc.) can support the additional people. We should only be adding density where local residents are in favor and where the impact can be absorbed and/or mitigated.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

I'm not sure this is ever a good idea. The city needs the flexibility to move funds around as needed. If there isn't political will on the council to address a need residents care about, shorten the term to 2 years and vote them out.

Paul Smedberg

Democrat, Incumbent

Paul plays a key role representing Alexandria on a number of regional & city bodies --Director, WMATA; Chair, NoVA Transportation Comm; Board, VRE, 2017 chair; Pension & Audit Subcommittee; Waterfront Commission, and the Legislative Subcommittee.

For your highest priority issue area, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I believe city & school core infrastructure projects are a high priority. Furthermore, I support implementation of the City-School Ad-Hoc Task Force recommendations that will have a lasting economic and societal benefit for Alexandria taxpayers.

For your lowest priority issue area, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Ecological sustainability is a low priority for me because I believe the Environmental Policy Commission & city staff are doing great job implementing the Eco-City Plan. I will leave this work to the professionals.

When and where do you think it is appropriate to add density in the city?

I believe the northern part of Potomac Yard, Eisenhower Valley, Landmark Mall and our Metro stations are all areas were we should add density to achieve commercial & business development, transit and affordable housing goals.

In what situations would dedicated funding be appropriate?

I do not support dedicating funds because I believe set asides are a bad budgeting practice. If a particular issue is a high community priority then it should be part of the base budget. Council should have the ability to manage changing priorities

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