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Alexandria’s annual George Washington Birthday Parade brought the usual pomp and circumstance befitting the country’s first president.

This year’s parade marshals were the recipients of the prestigious Living Legends of Alexandria award. The theme of this year’s parade was “George Washington: Alexandria’s Living Legend.”

A number of political candidates marched (or rode) in the parade, including mayoral candidates Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and Alyia Gaskins, as well as Sheriff Sean Casey and Clerk of Court Greg Parks. City Manager Jim Parajon also marched, as did his counterpart in the school system, Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt. Former Mayor Allison Silberberg also marched in the parade with the “Coalition to Stop the Potomac Yard Arena.”

Alexandria’s next parade is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Town on Saturday, March 2.

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Real estate Developer Steve Peterson is running for mayor, and is pictured here with his wife, Martha (courtesy photo)

Steve Peterson, former president of the Peterson Companies real estate development firm, confirmed to ALXnow today that he is intending to run for mayor of Alexandria as a Democrat in the June 18 primary.

“It is my intention to run as a Democrat for mayor of Alexandria,” Peterson said.

Peterson’s family is known to be Republican, with his father, Milton, doubling his professional duties as the company’s founder and longtime chair of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. The Peterson Companies is regarded as one of the largest private developers in the region, and led the development of National Harbor. Steve Peterson, in fact, was the project manager behind that development.

“My father was a Republican, and as a company we were Republicans, but I have stayed out of politics,” Peterson said. “It’s not about making money anymore. It’s about making a difference.”

Peterson will join two other Democratic candidates in the race — Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and City Council Member Alyia Gaskins.

Peterson said he decided just before Christmas to run.

“I decided this three weeks ago in bed at 3 a.m.,” he said. “I whacked my wife on the head and woke her up and said, ‘I’m running for mayor,’ and then three hours later she whacked me on the head at 6:30 a.m. and said, ‘Did you just wake me up because you said that you’re running for mayor?'”

Peterson said that he is in favor of smart growth, and will unveil his platform when he launches his candidacy sometime next month. In the meantime, he has made the rounds by informing Alexandria Democratic Committee Chair Sandy Marks of his intention to run, and is putting together his campaign team.

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) By the time this story is published, candidates will have just an hour-and-a-half to file the necessary paperwork to run in the Jan. 9 special election to fill the vacant seat on the Alexandria School Board.

The deadline is 5 p.m. to file the following with the city’s Office of Voter Registration & Elections:

  • Declaration of Candidacy
  • Candidate Petitions (with 125 signatures of qualified voters from School Board, District A)
  • Certificate of Candidate Qualification
  • Statement of Economic Interests
  • Statement of Organization

So far, Gina Baum and Tim Beaty have filed paperwork to run for the open seat, according to Angie Turner, the city’s registrar of voters.

Baum is a managing broker with Keller Williams Metro Center, according to her LinkedIn page. As part of her filing, she submitted 150 signatures, a campaign email address and a campaign website, the latter of which hasn’t yet been set up.

Last month, District A School Board Member Willie Bailey abruptly resigned, prompting the Alexandria Circuit Court to order a special election for Jan. 9. The winner of the election will serve out the remaining 11 months of Bailey’s term before the next School Board is sworn into office in January 2025, following the November 2024 general election.

There are at least two other interested candidates collecting signatures — former School Board Member Bill Campbell and retired labor leader Tim Beaty.

Campbell was elected to the School Board in 2012 and reelected in 2015, but lost his reelection bid in 2018. He also lost a 2021 City Council bid, and while he said that he has collected enough signatures to run, Campbell told ALXnow that he’s weighing family obligations before taking the plunge and running for office again.

“I have a few hours left to make that decision,” Campbell said.

Beaty, the former global strategies director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, addressed the Alexandria Democratic Committee at its monthly meeting on Monday night. He said that he’s been a city resident for nine years, and has been a precinct captain at Cora Kelly School, and that his main goal would be to help ACPS in its collective bargaining efforts with staff.

“I think the process of collective bargaining should be able to help us with retention of too many teachers that are leaving the system because the workers will be represented in the collective bargaining negotiation,” Beaty said, “And to be able to attract more folks with hopefully through collective bargaining process better wages, benefits and working conditions.”

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Alexandria Democratic members of the Virginia’s General Assembly were swept back into office on election night.

There were no surprises from the unofficial election returns Tuesday night. Facing no opposition, Democratic incumbents Del. Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (5th) was reelected to a second term with 21,622 votes, and Del. Charniele Herring (4th) was reelected to her eighth two-year term with 10,368 votes. Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-3rd) was also reelected with 81% (16,837 votes) and defeated independent candidate Major Mike Webb.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-39) was reelected with 78% of votes cast (38,789 votes), soundly defeating Republican Sophia Moshasha who got 22% (10,706 votes).

Most of the Democratic candidates spoke after the unofficial results were announced at an Alexandria Democratic Committee watch party at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray.

“With the legislature that we hope to return to Richmond tonight, we’re going to have tell (Republican Governor) Glenn Yongkin that he can work with us or he can face a brick wall,” Ebbin said.

Statewide, Virginia Democrats campaigned on protecting abortion rights and retook control of both houses of the General Assembly, making Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin a lame duck for the remainder of his term.

Bennett-Parker said that she is one of a handful of Virginia legislators to have a child while in office.

“She inspires me every day to do this work,” Bennett-Parker said of her daughter. “I want her to grow up in Virginia where she has the right to make decisions about her own body.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine also stopped by to congratulate the winners.

“Times are tough in this country right now,” Kaine said. “Times are tough in this world right now. But when times are tough families pulled together and that’s what we’re doing… I always say I was born with a good compass, and I married a good anchor. And if you have a good compass and a good anchor, there is nothing that will ever stop good.”

Voter turnout in Alexandria exceeded expectations. About 35% (40,166 votes) of the city’s active registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday.

Election signs outside Alexandria City Hall on election day, Nov. 7, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)
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Old Town was packed on Saturday morning for Alexandria’s 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Thousands of visitors lined King Street to watch a procession of more than 2,000 participants, including Irish dancers, historic reenactors and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums. The festivities also included a car show and a dog show at Market Square outside City Hall.

This year’s Grand Marshal was Charlotte Hall, managing director of Old Town Business. The parade was sponsored by the Ballyshaners, a nonprofit dedicated to Irish heritage. Ballyshaners is Gaelic for “Old Towners.”

Enjoy the photos!

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Old Town was packed on Monday, as thousands of revelers and marchers celebrated the George Washington Birthday Parade.

More than 2,000 freemasons from all over the country marched in the 100th annual parade, which is the largest annual celebration of Washington in the world.

This year’s event saw a rare route change for the parade, which is traditionally held east of Washington Street near City Hall in the Old Town Historic District. This year, the parade made its way from Old Town North to King Street and near the George Washington Masonic National Memorial at King Street and Commonwealth Avenue.

This event commemorated the construction of the Memorial in 1923, which saw then-President Calvin Coolidge, Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Virginia Governor E. L.Trinkle lay the cornerstone.

Alexandria’s next parade is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Town on Saturday, March 4.

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Clarence Tong won’t seek reelection for a fifth two-year term as chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, he announced in a virtual meeting with the organization’s members on Monday (Dec. 6).

Tong says he didn’t know a single Alexandria Democrat when he went to his first ADC meeting a decade ago with the intent to do his part to reelect then-President Barack Obama.

“I can confidently say that I got much more than I bargained for,” Tong said. “This past election is a reminder that Virginia is still a ‘swing state‘ and we can’t take for granted the progress Democrats have made. We need to continue to fight for our values year after year.”

Tong said he was most proud of building an “unparalleled Democratic turnout operation here in the City of Alexandria,” but that serving as chair is like having a second full-time job.

Sandy Marks, the ADC vice chair for communications, announced last month that she would run for the position. Since then, she has gotten the endorsement of Mayor Justin Wilson and nearly all of the incoming City Council, as well as members of the school board and ADC leadership. At this point, Marks is running uncontested for the election as ADC chair, which, with the other officer elections, will be held virtually on January 10.

“I’ve worked with Sandy for years on many issues facing our community,” Wilson told ALXnow. “She’ll be a good leader for our party as we work to build the committee and work towards preparation for the upcoming election cycles.”

It will be two years until the next election in Alexandria — the House of Delegates and midterm Congressional elections — time Marks says will be spent reinvigorating the ADC’s membership.

Marks, a freelance political writer, said that she and other ADC officers are stewards of a party that will continue for generations.

“It is our job to keep it on course, and adjust when necessary to get us where we want to be in the future,” she said. “My true goal here is to try to pick up where Clarence left off. He’s done a lot of really good work bringing the party to where it is today. And now, post-Trump and with the challenges that COVID brought to the committee in terms of meeting and seeing each other in person, a huge goal of mine is to work to reconnect the relationships that have been disrupted by COVID.”

Photos via ADC and Jack Powers

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What an interesting week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

World champion sprinter Noah Lyles brought home his bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday. In a frank, TED Talk-like speech at Alexandria City High School, Lyles talked about the importance of mental health as he struggled to perform at the games.

“A lot of people will look at the Olympics this year like something was different with the athletes,” said Lyles. “Well, it was a lot of difference because we had so much weight that we had to hold onto — about two years. I was no different.”

On the COVID-19 front, while the transmission level remains high in Alexandria, this week the city tied with Arlington for the lowest seven-day positivity rate in Virginia. Large outdoor public events are still happening, too, and on Monday, a vast majority of local elected officials and candidates converged for the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s annual Labor Day Picnic, which included an appearance by gubernatorial candidate, former Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Man arrested for spending spree after finding wallet in Bradlee Shopping Center parking lot
  2. COVID-19 Update: Alexandria ties with Arlington for lowest seven-day positivity rate in Virginia
  3. BREAKING: Pedestrian critically injured in Old Town car crash
  4. Mark Center development plans head to Planning Commission this week
  5. Alexandria Police union calls out years of executive mismanagement
  6. JUST IN: Suspects arrested after allegedly firing shots at Alexandria Police
  7. BREAKING: Video shows brawl at Alexandria City High School cafeteria just two days after school starts
  8. Mayor outlines upcoming plastic bag tax plans
  9. Village Brauhaus aims for rooftop expansion
  10. No injuries or arrests after shots fired in Old Town Sunday night
  11. Most expensive homes sold in Alexandria in August

Have a safe weekend!

Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.

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Stark differences were on full display Saturday night, as Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson and former Mayor Allison Silberberg sparred in a contentious debate on local issues.

Wilson defended his record since taking the mayorship from Silberberg in 2018. Silberberg, however, said she wants to restore the public trust, and that the city is at an inflection point.

“We’ve seen in the last couple of years certain decisions and policies that have been decided that really put our city at risk in many ways,” Silberberg said. “Our visions for the city are different. And our city is at an inflection point… It saddens me to hear so many residents express a profound loss of confidence and trust in our local government. As your mayor, I would certainly be very focused on transparency, and rebuilding the public trust.”

The hour-long debate was hosted by the Alexandria Democratic Committee, and moderated by Robert McCartney, a senior regional correspondent for The Washington Post. Wilson currently leads in fundraising and endorsements, and the debate comes on the heels of Wilsons’ endorsement by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Silberberg presented herself as an environmentalist in favor of “smart growth,” while Wilson said that the city needs to match growth with transportation infrastructure.

“I’m inspired to turn what I’ve learned about our city’s resilience over the last year into a mission for our city’s future,” Wilson said. “I know that by investing in our kids, investing in our basic infrastructure, and making sure that we have an economy that can support the services that our residents expect and demand, Alexandria cannot only survive in the aftermath of this pandemic, but we can thrive.”

Silberberg’s tenure as mayor was plagued by lone 6-1 votes, and Wilson said that she voted against a number of important issues, including a controversial 5.7 cent tax hike in 2017 that resulted in significant capital improvement funding.

“I speak out for the people and I listen to our residents,” Silberberg said. “I’m certainly in favor of transit oriented development, that has been what we’ve all supported across the many years. But what I’m really for is smart growth. And what that means really, is that you don’t have unabashed out of scale overbuilding on every square inch, that you do keep some open space, which helps with the flooding.”

Silberberg criticized Wilson’s handling of COVID-19, and said that the city’s face mask ordinance needed to be passed sooner that the fall of 2020.

“It’s been a harrowing year for all of us,” she said. “I know a number of folks who have had COVID, and I’ve lost some friends. I don’t think we should have waited till October 1 with the outdoor mask order. Cities all across the country were helping restaurants, but the restaurants in the Bradley Center in the middle of the city and on the West End weren’t helped as much as other places, so we need to look at that across the board.”

Wilson said that the mask ordinance was the first adopted in Virginia, and was replicated by Northam in his statewide executive order. He also said that the city’s vaccination rate for Latinos is higher than for white residents, a result of “aggressive outreach” to the city’s nonprofits.

“I’m very proud of that ordinance,” he said. “Alexandria led the way in providing new small business flexibility using outdoor spaces, sidewalks, closing streets, parking lots and everything to help keep our businesses afloat. I worked with the mayor of Richmond to go down to the General Assembly and ultimately get the governor to include an executive order that allowed carry-out cocktails, which has helped keep our restaurants a floating all around our city. We spent millions of dollars a small business assistance again leading the way in the region, and helping our small businesses providing grants to small businesses all around our city.”

Silberberg also said that she would reverse the Seminary Road Diet, which she said is a transparency issue.

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It was a historic week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.

President Joe Biden visited the Neighborhood Health COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary on Tuesday, just before announcing that the date for adults to get access to the vaccine has been moved to April 19.

The Alexandria School Board, on Thursday night, voted to change the name of T.C. Williams High School to Alexandria City High School.

The School Board also voted unanimously to reduce the distancing requirement in ACPS schools from six feet to three feet, all the while community support is growing to expand in-person instruction to more than the current two days a week. Summer school is currently planned to begin in July and will be four days a week, and ACPS is planning on reopening to five days a week at the beginning of the next school year.

Our top story was on the T.C. Williams Titans junior varsity football team walking off the field after an incident with the Robinson Rams on Monday night. Robinson Rams players allegedly spit at and made a racial slur against T.C. players. The incident has prompted Fairfax County Public Schools to announce a “stand-down” meeting for all athletic teams and coaches to discuss “appropriate behaviors required to play sports in FCPS.”

Additionally, six Alexandria Police officers were placed on administrative duties after a chase suspect died while in custody. Police responded to a call for shots fired in the 800 block of North Patrick Street, and multiple buildings and vehicles were struck. The driver of the vehicle crashed on Interstate 295, and then jumped over an overpass barrier and fell more than 20 feet and was tased by police, arrested and later died.

Important Stories

Top Stories

  1. JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
  2. BREAKING: Shots fired in Old Town leads to chase that ends in D.C.
  3. JUST IN: President Biden set to visit Alexandria vaccination site Tuesday
  4. National Park Service announces George Washington Parkway to go on a diet
  5. Neighborhood Health vaccinating thousands at sites in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County
  6. JUST IN: Woman arrested after fight on King Street Metro station platform
  7. UPDATE: $8,500 reported stolen in terrifying West End robbery
  8. JUST IN: President Biden visits COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary
  9. COVID-19 update: Alexandria moves into vaccination phase 1C
  10. JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
  11. Fairfax County man arrested for three burglaries, released three days later

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via T.C. Williams Football Boosters/Facebook

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