Letter to the Editor: City Hall Needs a New Direction
Gant Redmon, Kathleen Burns and Ginny Hines Parry applaud those who seek to change the direction and makeup of Alexandria's current city government.
To the Editor:
Despite the claims of Mayor Euille and others, the Democratic primary result was hardly “a vindication” of the course set for Alexandria by their current and past incumbents on Council.
The mayor is fooling himself and voters when he concludes, “the voters of this great city like the direction we’re moving in and we’ll continue moving forward.” Instead, a broad call for reform and new direction from within the Democratic Party itself was narrowly defeated. City hall insiders managed to impose their will on their own frustrated party, again.
Fourteen candidates, four or more Political Action Committees, attack ads, record spending – all indicate a party in disarray over the direction, the priorities, and the policies of this City Council and City government. This election and its results indicate a mounting demand for the return of representative, responsive government in our city. To argue otherwise is to ignore math...and our history.
In an election with a single party turnout of less than 15 percent, the “voters of this great city” were barely counted in this election. Even within this low turnout of the party stalwarts, the margins between winners and losers were slim. A close look at the “winning” six candidates shows they took barely half of the combined votes.
The two current incumbents, Del Pepper and Paul Smedberg, barely survived the primary vote, finishing number four and five respectively. The one outside challenger to be selected, Allison Silberberg, earned the third largest number of votes. Newcomer and mayor’s protégé, John Chapman, earned the sixth and last position on the ticket, just beating the strongest voice for change, Victoria Menjivar, by 217 votes.
Not so long ago, Alexandria enjoyed balance, constructive debate, and far better governance at City Hall. Those of us who have lived here for some time remember when habitual bipartisanship, thoughtful planning with vision, and cooperation for the good of all Alexandria distinguished our city government.
It is only recently that the city lurched into single party rule dominated by insiders with a disturbing sense of entitlement. It is only recently that decisions have appeared predetermined, poorly supported with relevant research, ready to be marketed to a stunned citizenry, seemingly without choice or option.
We are at risk of losing our sense of community and community itself due to chronic, even cynical, partisanship and poor government. It is very right for Alexandrians of all backgrounds to expect excellence in government, fiscal prudence, and good judgment. They want respect for the public, true leadership for the people, and trust restored in city government. Bad policy, poor planning, and tired strategies divide us without reason. It need not be this way. Alexandrians have known better government in the past. We all love this city and we can change things, together.
We applaud and support those who seek to change the direction and makeup of city government. The meager “victory” of those protecting the status quo is real cause for hope. There are too many frustrated Alexandria citizens of all parties and interests demanding real change to ignore. These citizens have very qualified alternative candidates, Republican, non-establishment Democrat, and independent, from whom to choose. The objective in November is to return balance to our governance, civility and constructive engagement to our dialog, and better, more collective vision to our strategy for Alexandria’s future. We can be proud of these qualities in our city government, again.
It takes your vote!
Gant Redmon, Kathleen Burns, Ginny Hines Parry