Newsletter

The June 8 Democratic primary is next Tuesday, and the latest fundraising totals show that Mayor Justin Wilson has still outraised his opponent, former Mayor Allison Silberberg.

Kirk McPike is also continuing to lead financially among City Council candidates.

Below are fundraising totals for the Democratic candidates from the Virginia Public Access Project, as of June 1, 2021.

Mayoral race

Mayor Justin Wilson

  • Raised — $169,257
  • Balance — $30,583

Former Mayor Allison Silberberg

  • Raised — $126,688
  • Balance — $55,477

Council race

Kirk McPike

  • Raised — $87,853
  • Balance — $15,951

Alyia Gaskins

  • Raised — $77,667
  • Balance — $9,153

John Taylor Chapman 

  • Raised — $74,957
  • Balance — $58,282

Read More

36 Comments

On January 6, Alexandria City Council candidate Kirk McPike was sheltering in place at the U.S. Capitol with his boss, Democratic Congressman Mark Takano.

The world watched as American politics reached a boiling point, and McPike says that the experience was heartbreaking. As Takano’s chief of staff, McPike directed that all staff stay home that day. He and Takano were eventually evacuated to the Longworth House Office Building, where they rode out the proverbial storm.

“It was just Congressman Takano and me in the Cannon House Office Building office,” McPike told ALXnow. “It was heartbreaking to see the the House to be defiled like that, to see the Senate chamber stormed into, and to watch how low it allowed our politics to be pulled in this country is definitely something that never should have happened.”

McPike says he learned a valuable lesson that day in communication. He’d already announced his intention to run for City Council in the June 8 Democratic primary, and says that if elected will hold continual town halls throughout the city to gauge resident input.

“I feel like we have a city full of good people who really do want to do the right thing on the issues that are impacting us,” McPike said. “You know, a lot of the questions we face don’t have just one answer, which makes it complicated and means that we can’t do what we failed to do at the national level, which is really communicate with each other and really understand where each other are coming from.”

McPike, who is leading in fundraising among Council candidates, has been a member of the city’s Budget and Financial Affairs Advisory Committee since 2017, and is the former chair of the Alexandria Economic Opportunities Commission. He says that 2020 was like a gut punch to the City budget.

“We started the year with a great deal of enthusiasm, because the budget was looking good,” he said. “It was like we’d finally escaped the shadow of the Great Recession in terms of city finances. And then the pandemic hit and it was like a punch to the gut, to our people who work here in Alexandria suddenly losing their jobs or having their hours cut, to people who own businesses here suddenly having to serve people out on the sidewalk.”

McPike has said on the campaign trail that he would not vote to undo the Seminary Road Diet. Still, the road diet wasn’t perfect, he said.

“This is one of those issues that highlights the stresses we have in our city where people too often feel talked at and not listened to,” he said. “I feel like we need more communication. We need greater transparency in our government. We need to lower the temperature and have productive conversations where we accept that people are going to disagree on some of the issues, but we also accept that everybody’s coming into the conversation in good faith manner.”

On his leaderhsip style, McPike said he helps people bring their dreams to reality.

“In the Congressman’s office, we empower people not only to do their jobs, but also to give direct feedback to their thoughts to the Congressman or myself,” he said. “When people bring me an idea, I help them bring it fully into reality. And I try to give them the support and trust that they need to achieve the goals set out for them, and so far that I feel like has worked very well for me and for my office on Capitol Hill.”

A native of Dallas, Texas, McPike received a political science degree from Southern Methodist University, and last year began part-time Masters studies in political science at George Mason University.

He has also been a member of the Alexandria Democratic Committee for 10 years, ever since moving to the area to manage the successful campaign of State Sen. Adam Ebbin in 2011. Before that, McPike’s credits include stints as chief of staff to members of the Texas legislature, the Dallas County Democratic party’s field director, and vice president of the Dallas County Young Democrats.

McPike and his husband Cantor Jason Kaufman live in the Seminary Hill neighborhood with their beagle, Punky.

9 Comments

The June 8 Democratic primary is only 49 days away, and Mayor Justin Wilson has raised the most money of any candidate in the city. Kirk McPike is also leading among City Council candidates.

Below are fundraising totals from the Virginia Public Access Project, as of March 31, 2021.

Mayoral race

Mayor Justin Wilson

  • Raised — $104,920
  • Spent — $19,710
  • Balance — $92,060

Former Mayor Allison Silberberg

  • Raised — $65,748
  • Spent — $7,134
  • Balance — $58,815

Council race

Kirk McPike

  • Raised — $66,088
  • Spent — $21,038
  • Balance — $45,050

John Taylor Chapman 

  • Raised — $63,953
  • Spent — $13,762
  • Balance — $53,495

Alyia Gaskins

  • Raised — $47,012
  • Spent — $32,157
  • Balance — $14,855

Read More

6 Comments

The November 2 general election is less than four months away, and nearly all of the candidates running for City Council spent most of their money in last month’s Democratic primary.

Republican candidate Darryl Nirenberg has $48,552 in the bank — more than anyone else running for Council.

That’s according to the latest figures just released by the Virginia Public Access Project.

The Council candidate who gets the most votes is named vice mayor. There are eight candidates running for the six-seat Council, and independent candidate Florence King has the least amount in the bank with $16.

Mayor Justin Wilson raised $3,722 and spent almost $21,000 between May 28 and June 30, leaving him with just $13,343 in the bank. Wilson spent the bulk of his nearly $175,000 campaign finances on the Democratic primary last month in his successful rematch against former Mayor Allison Silberberg.

Republican Annetta Catchings is Wilson’s opponent, and raised $425 between May 28 and June 30, and has a balance of $3,687.

Mayor’s race

Mayor Justin Wilson (D)

  • Raised — $183,438
  • Balance — $13,343

Annetta Catchings (R)

  • Raised — $3,364
  • Balance — $3,687

City Council

Kirk McPike

  • Raised — $87,852
  • Balance — $15,951

Alyia Gaskins

  • Raised — $77,665
  • Balance — $6,372

John Taylor Chapman 

  • Raised — $74,649
  • Balance — Approximately $6,000 (Figures being updated)

Canek Aguirre

  • Raised — $52,335
  • Balance — $30,956

Amy Jackson

  • Raised — $50,616
  • Balance — $5,125

Sarah Bagley (D)

  • Raised — $47,268
  • Balance — $2,039

Darryl Nirenberg (R)

  • Raised — $42,807
  • Balance — $48,552

Florence King. (I)

  • Raised — $6,872
  • Balance — $16
55 Comments

History was made this week in Alexandria.

Our top story was on Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday, defeating former Mayor Allison Silberberg. Alexandria historically votes for democratic mayors, and Wilson faces off against Republican candidate Annetta Catchings in November.

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker also unseated Del. Mark Levine for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 45th District seat in the House of Delegates. Levine also lost his bid for lieutenant governor.

The three incumbents running for City Council all made it through the primary, with City Councilman John Taylor Chapman receiving the most votes. The other candidates who made it, and will move on to the general election in November are Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins, Councilwoman Amy Jackson, Councilman Canek Aguirre, Sarah Bagley and Kirk McPike.

This Saturday is will also see the final graduating class of T.C. Williams High School walk the stage before the school’s name is changed in July to Alexandria City High School.

Next Sunday is also Father’s Day, and a number of Alexandria businesses are offering unique specials.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. BREAKING: Wilson wins Democratic mayoral primary, Silberberg concedes
  2. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown puts in his notice
  3. A rare glimpse inside Alexandria’s abandoned and overgrown GenOn power plant
  4. BREAKING: Bennett-Parker declares victory in 45th District race, Levine loses Delegate and Lieutenant Governor races
  5. Pride flags torn down outside City Hall and thrown into fountain at Market Square
  6. Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown isn’t just retiring, he’s leaving the city altogether
  7. BREAKING: Incumbents hold on in Alexandria City Council Democratic primary
  8. Three incumbents and lots of newcomers running for Alexandria School Board this November
  9. Here’s how much it would cost to reverse the Seminary Road Diet
  10. Democratic primary settled in Alexandria, but underlying issues linger
  11. Critical Missing Person Alert issued for 13-year-old autistic boy

Have a safe weekend!

2 Comment

Morning Notes

McAuliffe, Ayala, Herring win statewide Democratic primary — “Former Virginia governor and longtime fixture as a national Democratic Party leader Terry McAuliffe won the state’s Democratic nomination for a second term as governor in Tuesday’s primary election, the Associated Press reported at 7:44 p.m. In the two other statewide races, the lieutenant governor’s contest was called by AP for Del. Hala Ayala. In the attorney general race, Del. Jay Jones conceded to incumbent Mark Herring.” [Patch]

Council candidates pose after Democratic primary — “Congratulations to our 2021 Democratic nominees for Alexandria Mayor (Justin Wilson) and City Council (John Chapman, Alyia Gaskins, Amy Jackson, Canek Aguirre, Sarah Bagley, and Kirk McPike), and the 45th House District (Elizabeth Bennett Parker)! Onward to November!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Health Department expands clinic partnerships and locations — “In recent weeks, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) has expanded vaccine clinic partnerships and locations. In Alexandria and the region, mass vaccination events have slowed significantly over the past month. In response, AHD has focused on targeting outreach in communities where vaccination rates are lower and partnering with organizations to reach priority populations.” [City of Alexandria]

Made in ALX hosting first art show and sale — “Saturday, June 26, join a group of Alexandria artists on the patio behind ALX Community (near the gazebo between the Torpedo Factory and The Blackwall Hitch) to see new pieces and pick up something unique for your home!” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 88F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Overcast. Low 71F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Front desk assistant — “Dogtopia, the industry leader in dog daycare, boarding, and spa services has an immediate opening for an energetic, organized, sales and solution-minded individual to join our team as our Sales Receptionist.” [Indeed]

Photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook

14 Comments

The Alexandria City Council incumbents held onto their seats in a hotly contested Democratic primary, and will be joined by three new faces to the Council if the results carry over into the November election.

Alexandria City Councilman John Taylor Chapman received the most votes in Tuesday night’s Democratic primary, winning 12.07% of the vote. Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins won the second most, with 11.96% of the vote.

Results

  1. John Taylor Chapman
  2. Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins
  3. Amy Jackson
  4. Canek Aguirre
  5. Sarah Bagley
  6. Kirk McPike

“I’m so grateful for the trust that people still have in me,” Chapman said. “We have an amazing campaign team. It was hardworking hours with our team, talking about the issues and how we solve problems in Alexandria. We took issues to the voter and talked about issues — and issues people were interested in talking about. We didn’t always agree with each and every person, but I feel that we showed our passion for the city and making sure the city moves forward.”

“I’m very excited to move forward and continue the work that we’re doing,” said Aguirre, an incumbent who came in fourth.

Bagley, who came in fifth, said volunteers helped make up the difference in campaign funding.

“We didn’t have the most money or machine, but we had a core of dedicated people and I knocked as many doors as I could,” Bagley said. “I had volunteers write 9,000 handwritten postcards.”

Kirk McPike, who made it into the sixth slot by a little over a little over 700 votes, said he was nervous as the results were coming in.

“Little bit of drama there for you,” McPike said, “We didn’t know if we were going to finish in the top six. We do have five months where we can talk as a democratic slate about the vision that we have for the City of Alexandria. We have a Democratic slate that is pretty united in how we want to move the city forward, and it aligns with city values and will result in more success in November.”

The Democratic slate will face off against Republican Darryl Nirenberg and Independent Florence King.

James Cullum and Vernon Miles contributed to this story.

24 Comments

(Updated at 12 p.m.) After months of debating, campaigning and posting, the Democratic primary in Alexandria is finally here.

Polls across Alexandria are open today until 7 p.m., and anyone in line by then will be permitted to vote.

According to the city website, all voters are required to bring a form of identification at the polls or sign an ID confirmation statement. Anyone who doesn’t bring an ID or sign a confirmation statement will be offered a provisional ballot.

A full list of voting precincts is available on the city website.

In addition to the statewide Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General races, Alexandrians will be voting in a competitive Mayoral and City Council race. Residents of the 45th District will also vote between incumbent Mark Levine and current Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.

The mayoral race is a rematch between incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson and former Mayor Allison Silberberg, whom Wilson ousted three years ago.

“I’m feeling great,” Silberberg said. “We’ve got a huge precinct operation and we’re hearing from people across the city. It’s thrilling and we’re running right through the tape. People can vote until 7 p.m. Every vote will matter.”

“This has been an exciting election season that has allowed our community to have an intense discussion about our City’s future,” Wilson said. “I hope to earn the support of our City for another term as Alexandria’s Mayor.”

So far, more than 6,100 residents have voted absentee — about three times as much as in the 2018 Democratic primary (2,007 absentee votes) and a 255% jump over the 2017 Democratic primary (1,687 absentee votes). The absentee numbers will continue to increase, and as long as they have a postmark dated June 8 will be counted along with the other ballots before their official certification by the Alexandria Electoral Board on Monday, June 14.

That means that the unofficial election results could change depending on the final absentee numbers. As of 10 a.m. there were 4,018 in-person votes cast —  totaling 10,123 with absentee votes — out of 98,728 registered voters in the city. That’s about 10%.

The registrar’s office is anticipating turnout in the 20% to 30% range, and as of 10 a.m. the top performing precincts are Mount Vernon Recreation Center with 615 total votes, George Washington Middle School with 591 votes and the George Washington National Masonic Memorial with 540 votes..

After polls close, both candidates will host their respective results parties at Del Ray restaurants within a stone’s throw of each other. Wilson said his campaign will be gathering at Pork Barrel BBQ (2312 Mount Vernon Avenue) and Silberberg will be at Los Tios Grill (2615 Mount Vernon Avenue), in another mirror to the 2018 election.

Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, who is running against Del. Mark Levine for the 45th District seat in the House of Delegates, voted at around 6:30 a.m. at Matthew Maury Elementary School. She said that she didn’t sleep the night before out of nervous anticipation.

“I think we ran as hard a campaign as we could have,” Bennett-Parker said after voting. “We’ve knocked on almost 12,000 doors, we’ve sent mail and communicated with voters in a lot of different ways. I don’t think there’s anything at this point that I could have done differently.”

There are 13 candidates in the Democratic primary for six City Council seats. With only three incumbents running for reelection, at least half the City Council is guaranteed to be new starting next year. The top six vote-getters will face off against Independent candidate Florence King and Republican Darryl Nirenberg in November.

City Councilman John Taylor Chapman, while carrying his young son, voted shortly after polls opened at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. It was his third Democratic primary as a candidate. Chapman said he plans to watch the results at ALX Community (201 N Union Street) in Old Town.

“There is always a little bit of nervousness,” Chapman said after voting. “Our team has worked hard to reach as many Alexandrians as possible, talk to them about the issues and our platform, and we’ve hit close to 20,000 doors and sent mailers to more than 30,000 folks… I think elections are the concrete reminder that they are the way the community gets what it wants.”

Candidates Alyia Gaskins, Councilman Canek Aguirre, Sarah Bagley and Kirk McPike also spent the morning outside the Mount Vernon Recreation Center precinct.

James Cullum contributed to this story

14 Comments

What a week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on President Joe Biden stopping by the Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria last Friday with First Lady Jill Biden and Governor Ralph Northam.

Seeing the president around town is getting to be a regular thing. The president, who also visited in April, discussed “the state’s progress against the coronavirus pandemic” and the celebration of “summer as Virginia lifts all COVID-19 distancing and capacity restrictions.”

This week, we also followed up on a New York Times report about the Virginia Theological Seminary making reparations payments to slavery descendants. The program was launched in 2019, and the school issued $2,100 in annual payments to 15 families in February.

On Wednesday, the Fire Department released its restructuring plan, which goes into effect June 12, and is intended to help emergency response times by shifting resources. AFD will conduct community conversations on the restructuring on Saturday, June 5, at 10 a.m.; Monday, June 7, at 2 p.m. and Thursday, June 10, at 7 p.m.

Closing the short workweek, on Friday Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown announced that his retirement. Brown’s last day is June 25, and the City Manager is soon expected to name an acting chief to lead the department while the city’s undergoes a national search for a permanent replacement.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. UPDATED: President Biden and Gov. Northam visited Alexandria this morning
  2. JUST IN: Virginia State Police chase U-Haul pickup truck through Alexandria
  3. Bennett-Parker says Levine mailer on Commonwealth of Virginia letterhead is ethics breach
  4. Goodie’s Frozen Custard & Treats opens in Old Town
  5. Hank & Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen closes for the foreseeable future in Old Town North
  6. Volunteers needed this weekend to help clear dangerous stretch of Mount Vernon Trail
  7. Wilson and Silberberg mayoral debate finale opens possibility of ‘tweaking’ Seminary Road Diet
  8. Homegrown Restaurant Group gives employees raise to $15 an hour, will ease COVID restrictions at 6 restaurants
  9. ‘Rock It Grill’ eyeing karaoke expansion, bringing back Halloween party
  10. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  11. Ownership of Landmark’s streets could make a big difference down the road

Photo via White House/Twitter

2 Comment

With no more mayoral debates, now it all boils down to the Democratic primary on June 8.

Like the main event at a boxing match, Mayor Justin Wilson and former Mayor Allison Silberberg on Thursday night maneuvered through a series of questions in the final of four Seminary Ridge Civic Association candidate forums.

This is the final debate or forum for the two candidates until the June 8 Democratic primary.

Wilson is leading in fundraising and endorsements, while underdog Silberberg has gotten support from groups like the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook page for agreeing on a number of its pet issues, including government transparency, reversing the Seminary Road Diet, and curbing developments.

Fifteen City Council candidates participated in the Seminary Ridge conversations, opining on density, affordable housing, government transparency, flooding, and, their opinions on making changes to the controversial Seminary Road Diet.

After a 4-3 Council vote in 2019, the road, which is next to Inova Alexandria Hospital, was reduced from four to two lanes in exchange for a center turn lane, bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the street, crosswalks and medians. A majority of Council candidates are now in favor of taking a look at bringing travel lanes back from two to four lanes on the 0.9 mile stretch of roadway between N. Quaker Lane and Howard Street.

Wilson said that he is in favor of tweaking the plan, although has been accused of ignoring the opposition of 13 civic associations.

“It’s unfortunately we couldn’t get everyone in the community on the same page on this issue,” Wilson said. “I believe the improvements that we made were good ones. I’m hopeful that in the future we can continue to tweak as necessary.”

Silberberg said she would restore the four lanes.

“This is a major arterial road that leads to our only hospital,” she said. “I’ve seen it and many residents have seen it and told me about it that they’ve seen ambulances stuck. I think we have a chance to right this wrong, and, of course, keep the pedestrian improvements, but I wouldn’t have voted for it and I will restore the travel lanes if I can get everyone together on that.”

Transparency

Silberberg said she’s been saddened to hear reports of residents not trusting their government, and defended recently pledging herself to an accountability pledge labeled the Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights. Silberberg lost to Wilson in the Democratic primary in 2018, and says that she worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week during her single term.

“I think they [City staff] should sign the pledge as well,” she said.

Silberberg also criticized the performance and six-figure salary of City Manager Mark Jinks.

“It is a lot of money, frankly. I brought this up (when mayor) but nobody agreed with me, but for the City Manager to have a car allowance. It sounds minor, but I don’t think we should have that for him. I think we should revise that.”

Wilson said that Jinks’ salary was in the middle of the pack when compared to the salaries of neighboring jurisdictions, and that he is appropriately paid given the organization that he runs.

Colocation of affordable housing

Wilson said he does not want to colocate affordable housing on the grounds of Alexandria City Public Schools, a position echoed by Silberberg on another controversial issue.

I don’t support putting affordable housing on our existing school properties,” he said. “We need more instructional space.”

Silberberg said that the school system is bursting at the seams as it is.

“I would certainly support an ordinance to say no to putting housing on our limited school properties,” she said.

Stream restoration

Wilson said that the city’s Environmental Policy Commission is full of “good science minds” that can look into the city’s stream restoration projects, including at Taylor Run, Strawberry Run and Lucky Run. Last month, Council opted to send aspects of the projects back to the drawing board in light of widespread public criticism.

Silberberg says that Alexandria has few forests left, and that she has long been opposed to the plans, as well as Wilson’s “unending pursuit of overbuilding”.

Transit lanes on Duke Street

Speaking of road diets, Wilson and Silberberg agreed that the Duke Street Transitway project should not result in fewer traffic lanes between Landmark Mall and the King Street-Old Town Metro station.

I personally don’t think the volumes on Duke street would allow us to remove any traffic lanes on Duke Street,” Wilson said. “We’re gonna have a lot of community engagement to figure out the best alignment, as well as looking at the intersections to try to reduce some of the cut-through traffic that we see in a lot of our neighborhoods.”

The city is embarking on the public engagement part of the project next month.

On $60 million in federal COVID funding

Silberberg said that the nearly $60 million in COVID relief funds coming to the city should be handled carefully, and after all of last year’s flooding that the funds should be spent on stormwater infrastructure.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment from the federal government, and we need to be extremely careful and good stewards of this money,” she said. “Think about what is mission critical. First and foremost, I think we clearly have to focus like a laser beam on this flooding, the sewage and stormwater flooding that’s attacking, and stalking, really, our residents every time it rains.”

Wilson said he’s proud to have led the city through the most significant public health crisis in a century, and that the city needs to invest more in the social, emotional and academic losses experienced by Alexandria children.

“We have an opportunity to make generational investments in our community around our infrastructure, around our facilities, around some of the systems around workforce development and things that are going to ultimately benefit our community for generations,” he said. “We got 1,300 suggestions from the community, and we’re going to be working in June and July to apply those suggestions in figuring out how to use that first tranche of money.”

Image via Seminary Ridge Civic Association/Zoom

19 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list