Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) toured Del Ray shops and restaurants with Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45th) on Friday to discuss sequestration with local business owners on the day the massive federal cuts went into effect.
“It is ridiculous the parties cannot come together,” said McAuliffe, who took notes while talking with business owners and staff members at The Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray, Executive Lock and Key Service, Artfully Chocolate and other businesses. “We have to come together and compromise. We just did that on transportation in Richmond. It is imperfect, but it was a move in the right direction. … [With sequestration] we have to get together. It’s not a partisan political issue. Everything is affected.”
Krupicka, who just finished his first session in the General Assembly, said the cuts are going to have a direct impact on Alexandria’s school system, particularly “important support programs” and “programs that help our kids learn.”
Northern Virginia is expected to feel the brunt of the sequester, with more than 200,000 jobs potentially on the line. The Department of Defense is expected to furlough thousands of civilian employees. With a large number of Defense employees and contractors living in Alexandria, the furloughs and layoffs are expected to have a ripple effect on businesses and real estate.
Shopkeepers in Del Ray said they are feeling the squeeze.
“We’re already hearing about it,” said Eric Nelson, owner of Artfully Chocolate. “People are scrutinizing every dollar they spend. Our chocolate is more on the expensive side. People could be turning to M&M’s instead.”
Nelson, who also owns a shop in Carlyle, said that shop is less affected because of its proximity to the Patent and Trademark Office, “an economic generator for the government,” he said.
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Mellenie Runion, president of the Del Ray Business Association, toured the businesses with McAuliffe and Krupicka. She is the owner of Truly-Life, a home-based business specializing in handmade organic soaps and other products.
“Half my clients are federally employed,” she said. “When it comes to wedding gifts or gift favors, people are maybe saying ‘I’m not going to splurge on this local gift’ and buying something else. … This whole area relies on the federal government.”
Jill Erber, owner of Cheesetique, was not part of McAuliffe’s tour on Friday. While she said she does not like to see anyone lose their job, she believes the cuts should happen.
“Any business would do it,” said Erber, who identified herself as a Libertarian.
Erber said she would like to see the government operate more like a business.
“I don’t want my taxes to go to something that doesn’t pay for itself,” she said.