Kevin Harris taking second shot in campaign for Alexandria City Council

Alexandria City Council Candidate Kevin Harris, a professional basketball trainer who is also president of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority resident association (staff photo by James Cullum)

Kevin Harris didn’t like the way the 2021 City Council primary went down and now he’s taking another shot.

Harris was edged out by just 750 votes, with Council Member Kirk McPike taking the sixth and last available Council spot. Now he faces 11 opponents in the upcoming June primary.

“This truly is a family affair for us,” Harris said. “Obviously some tears were flowing from my wife and children… It’s a commitment to be up here, and it’s a privilege to have been working on all the things I’ve been doing in the city of Alexandria.”

Harris has been president of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) Resident Association for more than a decade. He’s a lifelong city resident and lives in Old Town with his wife and four children in an ARHA property near to where a rash of shooting incidents have occurred.

ARHA and the police erected video cameras in the area and patrols have increased over the years. Harris says that when the city hires a new police chief that community policing and officers on foot patrols need to be brought back to the area.

“I’m talking about community policing in terms of having a real relationship, real connection with your residents,” Harris said. “Where people can identify the officers, they know their names, they don’t feel threatened when they see an officer coming towards them.”

Harris got his Bachelor’s Degree in business from Alabama State University, where he got a full athletic scholarship and was named captain of the basketball team. He later played professionally for the Dakota Wizards. In 2003, he founded Hoop Life Inc. and has since taught basketball camps, clinics, classes and after-school programs throughout the region. He’s also an ordained Minister at the Love of Christ Church in Del Ray, where he teaches Sunday school.

On the failed Potomac Yard arena deal, Harris said that it’s better that the Washington Wizards and Capitals are staying in D.C.

“Aside from the huge fact that the deal could have caused displacement for marginalized communities, partially sidelined labor unions, and created a complex traffic situation, it was clear from my talks with community members from various sects of the city that the vast majority of Alexandrians didn’t want it or were indifferent towards it,” Harris said. “Regardless, this situation has sparked a unique opportunity for our city to continue in dialogue on the real issue, how to boost our commercial tax base.”

Harris has gotten endorsements from NOVA Labor, former City Council Member Willie Bailey, as well as the ARHA Resident Association and other labor groups.

Harris said that outgoing Mayor Justin Wilson will be missed, and needs to be replaced with “someone who listens.”

“Before you get into the technicalities of what it takes to run a city, you got to first really care,” Harris said.

Harris would like to see a free trolley, like the King Street Trolley, drop visitors at the city’s historic spots. He also said that the city should look for creative solutions before deciding on a tax increase and needs to favor a more welcoming small business environment.

“I always say that a budget is a moral document,” he said. “That’s my key thing, and understanding that our children are really important. But running the city is not not too much different than running a household. A lot of times you know, you have to make sacrifices.”

Harris also grew up homeless, living with his single mom at the homes of family friends. Consequently, he says that he’s been a lifelong advocate for affordable housing.

“Basketball has been a tool that has taught me so much in my life,” Harris told ALXnow. “You have to learn how to deal with adverse situations and push through them by using your fundamentals you’ve learned so hard to master. Basketball allows you a better understanding of who you are, and how to leverage your strengths and weaknesses.”

Harris said that Michael Jordan was his idol growing up.

“It was his mindset,” Harris said of Jordan. “He was determined to win, to be competitive and understood what was needed to win.”

The Democratic primary is on June 18.