Candidates for the hotly contested race for the six open seats on the Alexandria City Council have called into question every decision that city lawmakers have made in the past three-plus years.
They’ve sparred over the future of the Waterfront Plan, the city’s plan to drastically revamp Alexandria’s waterfront area with hotels, restaurants and other developments, ever since it was approved by the City Council in January.
“The plan [lacks] details on parking, traffic flow and flood control, and the true economic costs remained unanswered as we were to vote on fundamentally transforming Alexandria’s waterfront,” said current Councilman Frank Fannon, who voted against the plan. “It is essential that we have a complete and thorough understanding of what the impact on the community and the environment will be before proceeding.”
The rivals have fought about the way the city handled the unexpected relocation of the Department of Defense to the Mark Center, a move that ushered in nearly 6,000 government employees to a neighborhood tucked miles away from a Metro stop.
They’ve addressed the lack of affordable housing in the area, something many candidates say exists because the current council is pro-development and has not considered the voices of Alexandria residents since the
members took office.
“Planning can and must go forward, but the current process is too divisive and wholly ineffective in satisfying citizens’ concerns,” said candidate Bob Wood. “Don’t market one plan to us — give us viable alternatives that capture our concerns and our desires.”
The City Council’s December 2011 approval of Arlandria, a massive apartment and retail complex that replaced the Mount Vernon Village Center, has also come under fire from many immigrant and low-income families who protested the plan to no avail.
And, for the first time, the City Council election is being held in November, something that has left many candidates fearing the unknown because of a suspected increase in voter turnout.
Traditionally, the city has held its local election in May and seen a mid-to-low voter turnout. During the last local election in May 2009, only 14,419 of 93,871 registered voters turned out. Only 15,365 of 77,740 registered voters turned out in May 2006.
Following the city’s primary, the field was dwindled down to 10 candidates, each boasting very different plans for the city’s future:
» Frank Fannon, Republican, native of Alexandria, incumbent
» Alicia Hughes, Republican, native of Memphis, Tenn.,
» Del Pepper, Democrat, native of Omaha, Neb., incumbent
» Paul Smedberg, Democrat, native of Hartford, Conn., incumbent
» Bob Wood, Republican, native of Fort Lewis, Wash., retired Army lieutenant general
» John Taylor Chapman, Democrat, native of Alexandria, former president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
» Tim Lovain, Democrat, native of Bradford, Pa., government relations consultant
» Allison Silberberg, Democrat, native of Dallas, chairwoman of the local Economic Opportunities Commission
» Justin Wilson, Democrat, native of Cheverly, Md., principal systems engineer at Amtrak
» Robert Kraus, Libertarian, native of Chicago, director of operations for the Libertarian Party
» Glenda Davis, independent, native of Washington, N.C., retired accountant
» Jermaine Mincey, independent, native of Sacramento, Calif., a patent examiner