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The Alexandria City Council’s democratic primary field is getting crowded

(Clockwise from top left) Alexandria City Council candidates Charlotte Scherer, City Council Member John Taylor Chapman, City Council Member Sarah Bagley, School Board Member Abdel Elnoubi, Council Member Kirk McPike and James Lewis announce their candidacies to the Alexandria Democratic Committee on Jan. 2, 2024 (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) The field of candidates is getting crowded in Alexandria’s Democratic primary for City Council.

The list of nine candidates includes four incumbents, two School Board Members, two community leaders and a former magistrate, who, if elected would be the first transgender City Council member.

Two City Council slots (out of six) are up for grabs since Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and Council Member Alyia Gaskins are vacating their seats in their quests to replace outgoing Mayor Justin Wilson. Nine candidates have announced their intention to run, and six of them spoke last night at the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s monthly meeting.

City Council Members John Taylor Chapman, Sarah Bagley and Kirk McPike announced their intention to run last night, and Councilman Canek Aguirre will be announcing his candidacy in the coming days, he told ALXnow. Alexandria School Board Members Jacinta Greene and Abdel Elnoubi are also running, as are West End Business Association President James Lewis, Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority Resident Association President Kevin Harris and former Alexandria magistrate Charlotte Scherer.

Chapman, an Alexandria native, is seeking a fifth three-year term, making him the senior candidate running in the race.

“I’m going to be, hopefully, one of those individuals that can bring the experience of the last 11 years with the City Council to bear as we hopefully start a new tour with council members,” Chapman said. ” We’ve been through a lot, through recession, we’ve been through a pandemic, we’ve been through changes in state and federal leadership that, frankly, desire to take our city backward. And it’s this local part of the energy we have here that says to state changes and federal changes, ‘We need to have more.'”

Bagley is seeking her second term, and said that she’s been effective over the last three years.

“What I’m really proud of is in our first few years on council, we created an Office of Climate Action that cost $1.8 million,” she said. “We got a green business program now that’s being promoted.”

McPike is also seeking his second term in office and said that it wasn’t easy growing up gay in Texas, but that he found his home in Alexandria.

“We need to take the next step to our green building program and not only focus on what we’re building, but what we’ve already built, and how can we reduce the carbon emissions from our current buildings and infrastructure,” he said. “We need to take a real hard look at Alexandria’s long-term budget to make sure that we’re balancing our revenues, addressing our expenses so that we can continue to be a city that is prosperous, and most importantly, continue to fully fund the budget for Alexandria City Public Schools.”

Elnoubi was uncontested in his election to the School Board in 2021. That year, he decided against a City Council campaign and decided instead to run for the open District C slot.

“As your school board member, I’ve championed and supported several initiatives, such as pay increases for our educators, secured additional funding for additional teachers to adjust class sizes, added psychologists to address mental health,” he said. “We passed a resolution for 15 mile-an-hour school zones, and we’ve protected this community from (Republican Virginia Gov.) Glenn Youngkin, when we beat him in court during the height of the pandemic.”

Greene, who was elected to the School Board in 2018, did not announce on Tuesday night, and sent ALXnow the following statement: “As a proud Alexandrian for the past 21 years, an Alexandria School Board Member and a dedicated public servant, I am excited to announce my intent to run for the Alexandria City Council.”

Lewis said that the city needs to go beyond the Zoning for Housing initiative Council recently passed in order to continue increasing its stock of affordable housing.

“We all live in Alexandria because it’s a great city,” Lewis said. “But as with any place, we know that there are challenges, and I think front of mind for everyone is our affordable housing challenges. Council has taken some significant steps to get us there, but we all know that those are just steps… What’s really important to me personally, though, is also looking not just at affordable housing, but affordable homeownership to help families get out of the rat trap, build generational wealth and put roots down in this city.”

Scherer, a retired attorney and former Alexandria magistrate, is running her first campaign. If elected, she would be the first transgender member of Alexandria’s City Council. She said that she wants to build upon the city’s Zoning for Housing initiative, and that she’s a fast learner.

“I’m running to continue my journey of service and advocacy for the community I call home,” she said. “I’m dedicated to improving housing affordability, making substantial investments in our infrastructure and schools, extending transportation options for better accessibility, saving Metro first, and enhancing water and sewer management to protect our environment.”

Harris said that he will launch his campaign later this month.

“As a proud servant of Alexandria with a track record of working to improve the quality of life of it’s citizens and of working to help our city realize it’s potential, I’m excited about the opportunity to partner with and serve the citizens of our city at another level,” he said. “It’s definitely my intention to run for City Council. We will be making our official announcement and launch this month.”

The filing deadline for candidates is in late March and the Democratic Primary is on June 18.

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