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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

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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.

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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

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Pipkin from a local privy (image via AlexArchaeology/Twitter)

While the prospect of buried treasure in the back yard sounds appealing, Alexandria leaders say amateur treasure hunting is hindering historic preservation efforts.

At a City Council meeting last night, Mayor Justin Wilson said the Alexandria Archaeological Commission has expressed concerns about items taken from homes in Old Town that belong in a museum.

“Folks are going around in Old Town and offering to excavate privies folks have on their property,” Wilson said. “As a city that values professional archaeology and what we might discover, interpret and protect from archaeological digs, I know the commission is very concerned about the potential impacts of this backyard archaeology that can occur.”

City Archaeologist Eleanor Breen said in recent years, non-professional “bottle diggers” have targeted homes with back yards in Old Town. Former outhouses are a prime area of focus for archaeological work, featuring many items discarded that help tell the story of everyday life in a given period of history.

Breen said the city has been doing outreach in-person at local farmers’ markets and virtual outreach via the city website to try to connect homeowners with proper resources. The city also has a 311 network

“It’s a difficult conversation with property owners because they’re excited, but we want to make sure we protect these historic artifacts,” Wilson said. “We want to make sure folks are doing this wisely.”

Council member Kirk McPike noted that the 311 report system for “sinkhole on property” could make Alexandria the first city in the country with a virtual reporting system focused on historical bathrooms.

“It’s a privy category,” Wilson said. “If ever there’s a community that has that down, it’s ours.”

Image via AlexArchaeology/Twitter

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The Alexandria City Council, on Wednesday, says that Governor’s Glenn Youngkin’s proposed new policies restricting transgender bathroom and pronoun use stigmatize and undermine children, and puts their lives at risk.

In a letter to the Virginia Department of Education, Council backed the position of Alexandria City Public Schools to essentially ignore Youngkin’s proposed new rules, which go into effect after a 30-day public comment period on October 27.

The Democrat-led Council said that Youngkin (a Republican) has brought Virginia into the fold of “states across the U.S. seeking to adopt discriminatory and harmful restrictions on LGBTQ+ students,” and that it undermines ACPS and contributes to “the already high number of LGBTQ+ students who attempt suicide.”

“The proposed policies issued September 16 remove protections for transgender and non-binary students in Virginia’s public schools, stigmatizing them and undermining their dignity, and the policies put vulnerable students’ lives at risk,” the city said in the letter, which was approved in Council’s Wednesday night (September 28)  meeting at City Hall.

The letter continued, “While the Governor’s policies target, demean and diminish LGBTQ+ youth, particularly transgender and non-binary students, Alexandria City leaders and community members will support, uplift, and provide a safe, nurturing environment for LGBTQ+ youth so that they can flourish.”

Last week, the city’s interim superintendent says that Youngkin’s proposal won’t be a distraction as the school system plans to continue its “gender-affirming policies.”

While students are not required to wear gender-neutral clothes, the new rules state:

  • School division employees must refer to students with the pronouns “appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record”
  • “The appropriate participation” in school programs separated by sex
  • Overnight travel accommodations, locker rooms, and other intimate spaces used for school-related activities and events shall be based on sex
  • Students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex, except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires
  • Single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students

Mayor Justin Wilson said that Youngkin’s policy changes are “lawless” and not backed by education experts.

“This proposed policy is not backed by any science, by any best practice, any recommended authority on the welfare of children,” Wilson said. “This is a politically driven policy proposal, not a child-driven policy proposal.”

City Councilman Kirk McPike said that the matter cuts to the heart of the city.

“This is appropriate for the Council to weigh in,” McPike said. “We know that there are many trans students in Virginia schools, including here in Alexandria. They deserve to have their schools to be a place of safety and acceptance. I want them to know that their local elected leaders are on their side. We have your back and will never stop fighting for you.”

Council Member Canek Aguirre said that it’s “absolutely ridiculous” that the city has been put in this position.

“The irony is not lost on me,” Aguirre said. “When there’s a party (Republicans) that says they are about less government, and we consistently see that they are reaching into the furthest parts of our own homes and personal lives, it’s just absolutely disgusting to me.”

The full letter from City Council to VDOE is below the jump.

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More than a dozen anti-abortion activists were individually led out of Alexandria’s City Council Chambers on Tuesday night (June 28), as Council unanimously approved a resolution to protect access to abortions in the city.

Members of the California-based group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust sat in Council Chambers holding signs depicting graphic photos and drawings of aborted fetuses. The group spent the last several days demonstrating outside the U.S. Supreme Court leading up to last week’s overturning of Roe v. Wadebanning abortion in more than a dozen states.

Mayor Justin Wilson told the audience repeatedly to quiet down or he’d clear the chamber, and asked police to remove more than a dozen protestors, including A.J. Hurley, national director of the group.

“Bodily autonomy is a basic human right,” Wilson said. “I’m not really fond of resolutions that, you know, take stands on issues that we don’t have a lot of impact on, and this is not one of those. I think the reason this resolution is before us is because it has specific actions that are very much in our purview.”

Hurley is from Los Angeles, California. He said that the mission of the organization is to seek a federal ban on abortion, and doesn’t believe he will see that happen in his lifetime. Hurley was eventually escorted from Council Chambers by police after an outburst. Members of the group also shouted on megaphones and banged on plastic buckets outside City Hall.

“If this city council is going to produce edicts and statements and resolutions moving towards ordinances, they should know the faces of the children that they affect,” Hurley said.

The resolution states that “it is not possible to ban abortion, but only to ban safe and legal abortions,” and asks that the City Manager consider budgetary proposals for the FY 2024 budget to “ensure accessibility of reproductive health services, safe abortion services, accessible maternal and child health services for low-income Alexandria residents.”

The resolution also calls on the City Attorney to join ongoing or future lawsuits “to protect the availability of abortion services in Alexandria,” as well as land use protections for providers.

When told by a protestor that she doesn’t understand the issue because she hasn’t had an abortion, Vice Mayor Amy Jackson asked, “How do you know I haven’t?”

“When we’re talking about personal freedom and women’s health care, it should be the women’s choice, not men,” Jackson said.

Council Member Kirk McPike drafted the resolution. McPike previously expressed regret about City Council withdrawing an earlier proclamation of support.

“Fortunately right now we are in Virginia, and in Virginia abortion remains legal,” McPike said. “There’s nothing we can do from this dais or as City Council to override state law. If that changes, we will not be able to limit that. What we can do is work within the powers that we have as a city body, to ask our city manager in our city attorney to take on active roles in helping us protect this right to reproductive choice here in our city, whether that’s through revising our planning and zoning rules, whether that’s by joining lawsuits, whether that’s by putting language in our legislative packets. “

Council Member Alyia Gaskins, who noted in the meeting that she is pregnant, said that the Supreme Court ruling is an attack on the rights of women and families.

“We must be relentless in protecting the health and wellbeing of our people and the citizens we serve,” Gaskins said.

Council Member Sarah Bagley directly addressed the anti-abortion activists holding signs.

“I look at these photos, I see you pointing at them,” Bagley said. “What I don’t see is the woman whose life was saved because the ectopic pregnancy would have killed her. What I don’t see with these photos is a woman who desperately wanted a child but was told that (with) these fetal abnormalities would never have survived.”

Many residents also sat in Council Chambers holding signs thanking Alexandria for its pro-abortion efforts, including Sandy Marks, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee.

“Our council is entirely unshaken,” Marks said. “There have been a few interruptions, business is moving smoothly. They’re attempting to make noise outside, but our good governance is not going to be disrupted by a small number of out of town visitors that are here to try to obstruct a meeting that is going very smoothly.”

Delegate Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D-45) also sat in the audience.

“I’m here because I believe everyone should be able to access safe abortions,” Bennett-Parker said. “I’m here today to support City Council and this resolution to protect abortion access in Alexandria and Virginia. I’m here because people should be able to make decisions about their own body, their own future and their own lives.”

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Supreme Court (file photo)

The Alexandria City Council will vote on a resolution Tuesday night to protect access to abortions in the city.

The resolution, which was initially drafted by Councilman Kirk McPike, lays out several steps that the city will take.

“We call upon the General Assembly of Virginia and the United States Congress to take such actions as may be necessary to protect the right to abortion in Virginia,” the resolutions states. “We ask that the City Manager consider budgetary proposals for the FY 2024 budget to ensure accessibility of reproductive health services, safe abortion services, accessible maternal and child health services for low-income Alexandria residents.”

The resolution also calls on the City Attorney to join on-going or future lawsuits “to protect the availability of abortion services in Alexandria,” as well as land use protections for providers.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wadebanning abortion in 14 states and setting the stage for future legal challenges countrywide. Here in Virginia, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that he wants to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Alexandria Democratic Committee praised the resolution.

“The Alexandria Democratic Committee stands in solidarity with City Council as they present their resolution in response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade,” ADC said on Facebook. “Our public support of bold statements like these is crucial.”

Many of Alexandria’s elected officials expressed shock and dismay at the ruling.

Del. Charniele Herring, the Democratic Caucus Chair, tweeted that she was horrified and that she would continue to fight to keep abortion legal in Virginia.

The full resolution is below the jump. Read More

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Paying to park your car in Alexandria by phone could be getting more expensive soon.

Alexandria’s City Council voted unanimously on Saturday to enable staff to up the cost of pay-by-phone parking.

The current rate in those zones is $1.75 per hour, but the new ordinance would allow the Director of Transportation and Environmental Services to set a rate of up to $5 per hour.

The goal of the change is to push drivers parking in Old Town towards the city’s underused garages, though several members of the City Council noted that’s unlikely to happen without more wayfinding toward those garages.

Council member Sarah Bagley said it might be worth looking into adding additional signs, either as standalone A-frame signs or onto the existing parking signs, highlighting where the nearest parking garage is. Another suggestion from City Council member Kirk McPike was allowing local restaurants to validate parking. City staff said both options would be examined.

One possibility raised to alleviate parking woes of residents of Old Town residents unable to park near their homes was to set more zones as residential-only, but city staff said there are several problems with this option.

“The conversation about resident-only parking has been recurring,” said Yon Lambert, director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services. “It was considered in previous iterations of the Old Town Parking Study. Something we need to consider: if we’re going to dig our teeth into resident-only parking, we’re looking at reconvening the Old Town Parking Study to make sure we have all stakeholders represented.”

But City Attorney Joanna Anderson said there legal issues with residential-only parking.

“There are some constitutional issues with completely residential only parking,” Anderson said. “We are looking at it, but it is more difficult for fully resident-only parking than it is to allow some outside users like we are now.”

The ordinance was unanimously approved by the City Council.

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Morning Notes

Households without power after storm — “Households across Alexandria are suffering a blackout right now. Dominion’s service to our city continues to be unacceptable.” [Twitter]

It’s Monday — Light rain starting in the afternoon. High of 75 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:22 pm. [Weather.gov]

Resource center for Afghan refugees opening in Alexandria — “On Thursday, a new community center catering specifically to the needs of Afghan refugees will open in Alexandria, VA.” [DCist]

Alexandria Times profiles local love story — “It only took them a little over a month after Cody’s arrival to find each other, and they’ve been essentially inseparable ever since.” [Alexandria Times]

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Updated at 11:15 p.m. It took nearly five hours for the power to turn back on for thousands of Alexandria residents on a steamy Sunday night (May 22).

Alexandria got hit by a severe thunderstorm at around 6 p.m. At 8:36 p.m., Dominion Energy tweeted that there were more than 25,000 homes still without power in Northern Virginia.

According to Dominion Energy’s Outage Map:

  • More than 1,300 residents experienced an outage in the Rosemont area
  • There were about 2,600 outages in the Arlandria area

Jesse Thompson lives in a high rise Arlandria, and had no power or water for five hours.

“I’m doing about as well as I can right now,” Thompson said during the outage. “This is really something else.”

After a few rocky years outage-wise, Dominion has recently pledged to invest millions in Alexandria.

City Councilman Kirk McPike tweeted that Dominion Energy’s service “continues to be unacceptable.”

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