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Lonnie Rich, an Alexandria, Virginia lawyer and former City Councilman, says current Mayor Bill Euille is the best choice to be the next Mayor of Alexandria and urges his fellow Alexandrians to write in Bill Euille.
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Dear Red Brick Town,
Alexandria is a wonderful City – a City we are all proud to call home.
We recently had a Democratic-party primary with Mayor Bill Euille, former Mayor Kerry Donley and Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg seeking the nomination for Mayor. For me, it was a choice between the two Mayors who have longed served our City with distinction. I supported Kerry, largely because of my experience of having served under him when I was on Council.
At this point, Kerry Donley and I both want to endorse Bill Euille for Mayor as a write-in candidate.
Now, for sure, Allison won the Democratic primary, and I do not take anything away from her victory. She won – fair and square. She is a very good politician. I also think she is sincere and only has the City’s best interest at heart.
I want to tell you a story. In 1991, I was first elected to City Council. I had been extremely active in the community for the previous 15 years – serving as President of the Del Ray Civic Association, serving on numerous City boards and commissions, running local campaigns including Jim Dunning’s, when he was first elected sheriff in 1985. I had also served as Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee. When I got elected, I was ready – and full of spit and vinegar. I thought I knew the City and what I was doing. It only took me a couple of months to realize that I knew nothing. Even after 5 or 6 years, I was still coming to understand the budget and fiscal policy, still learning about all the City departments and figuring out how to balance the competing interests on a slew of subjects. It takes a long time. Preparedness is even more critical for our Mayor.
One concern I have about Allison is that she lacks experience and is not ready – she has only served on Council for two years and had only minimal community involvement before being elected. She has not been involved long enough to learn and understand the complexities of the budget and fiscal policy of the City.
More significantly, her views on fiscal issues and growth suggest a lack of understanding, balance, and the ability to compromise. She seems always in the mode of keeping things as they are. I believe that she is seriously misguided in believing that growth can be severely limited, and that at the same time City services can be maintained or even expanded. She has a math problem. If we want public safety, education, social services, transportation, arts and culture, we have to pay for it. Revenue isn’t generated magically.
In the early 90’s when I first served on Council, we had a balanced tax base – 50/50 commercial/residential. Now the tax base is 70% residential and only 30% commercial. In my opinion, this imbalance is a huge problem.
Unless we are prepared to tax seniors out of their homes and gentrify every neighborhood, have no more affordable housing and have no starter homes for families with young children, we cannot rely only on increased residential tax revenue. We must promote commercial development, where appropriate, in order to sustain the level of services that are demanded by our citizens.
We all want neighborhood protection and we all want to preserve the historic nature of Old Town. We can do that and grow; but we cannot grow and keep everything exactly the same. To keep everything the same is to stagnate. A vibrant City is a growing and evolving City. A balance must be maintained to have growth and managed impacts. It is not easy, and to achieve that balance requires experienced, tested leaders.
With Bill Euille, we have a proven leader. He is knowledgeable and balanced in his approach to almost everything. There has been no one in Alexandria who has worked harder at bringing people together and searching for common ground than Bill Euille. He has been “steady at the wheel,” and he deserves credit for the progress of the City over the last decade.
I want Bill to run a write-in campaign. I want a choice. The public deserves a choice.
Now, some will say that we just had a Democratic primary. To my Democratic friends, I say that a write-in campaign by Bill just creates a “late primary run-off” and should be treated that way. There is no question that Bill is a Democrat. The write-in just gives you a choice between two Democrats.
While not the norm, irregular party elections are not unheard of. The best example is from 1985, when Jim Moran ran against Chuck Beatley, the Democratic nominee for Mayor. Moran was elected and the City thrived; and the Democratic Party survived.
And to my Republican friends, I say that you too have a choice between two Democrats – unless Allison ends up on the Republican sample ballot, which I bet she will, in which case you will have a Republican choice.
Seriously, to all Alexandrians, regardless of party, I simply ask you to do what you believe will be in the best interest of our City.