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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Morning Notes

Earl Lloyd statue unveiled at Charles Houston Recreation Center — “At the unveiling of the first African American NBA player, and Native Alexandrian, Earl Lloyd!” [Twitter]

Episcopal Church of the Resurrection opens new facility — “Inspiring Grand Opening of Episcopal Church of the Resurrection’s beautiful new church this morning! Honored and humbled to partner with you to create 113 new affordable homes adjacent to your new space.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Democratic Committee straw poll tonight — “Register to participate in our Almost Annual Straw Poll! It’s Virtual this year, and the link will be sent shortly before the event.” [AlexDems]

Alexandria Police offer condolences for fallen Capitol Police officer — “The Alexandria Police Dept. offers our most sincere condolences to @CapitolPolice for the loss of one of their officers in an attack at the U.S. Capitol. We also send our prayers to the second officer injured. Your families are in our thoughts.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Generally sunny despite a few afternoon clouds. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy (in the evening). Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 52F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Dog walker/pet sitter — “DogOn Fitness is looking for confident, reliable, independent dog walkers to walk and exercise dogs in the Alexandria and Arlington area!” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

COVID Cases in Alexandria Jump by 21 — “The latest update from the City on COVID-19: Positive tests up 21 to 3,436 in the City; 7-day Positivity Rate down to 4.0%; 1 new hospitalization; Still safer at home, wash hands, wear masks and support our essential workers.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Democratic Committee Hosting Virtual Labor Day Picnic — “Thrilled to announce that the Biden Harris campaign’s National Political Director Erin Wilson will be joining the ADC as a special guest at our Labor Day Celebration!! You will not want to miss this unique opportunity to hear from Erin about the upcoming 2020 election!” [Facebook]

Former Mayor Silberberg Laments Loss of 150-Year-Old Tree at T.C. Williams High School — “You could almost hear a collective gasp throughout the city as the news spread. It didn’t have to be this way. Almost 3,000 Alexandrians, including me, had signed a petition to save the Witness Tree, which was so aptly named by McArthur Myers…In fact, with a little more creativity, the tree could have been a focal point of the stadium’s new design. The stadium’s architects should have been far more creative in using the tree as a centerpiece for its new plaza.” [Facebook]

Beyer Says Trump Trashed George H.W. Bush For Being Shot Down in WWII“Trump referred to former President George H. W. Bush as a ‘loser’ for being shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II (Bush escaped capture, but eight other men shot down during the same mission were caught, tortured, and executed by Japanese soldiers).” [Twitter]

Here’s How ACPS Will Virtually Track Attendance — “Every day counts when it comes to school… (F)ind out how we’re tracking attendance and what you can do to help your child be present and ready for learning at home.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Soccer Association Starts Nine-Week Course — “The Alexandria Soccer Association introduced ASA School+, a nine-week educational program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, according to a news release.” [Alex Times]

Story Time: Sheriff’s Deputy Reads ‘Ten Apples Up On Top’ — “We would not, could not resist another Dr. Seuss classic! So this week Deputy Sahar Sherzai is reading ‘Ten Apples Up On Top.'” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Sun and clouds mixed with a slight chance of thunderstorms during the afternoon. High 87F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%. At night, partly cloudy skies. Low 62F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Recruiting Manager — “The role of the Recruiting Manager will support the qualitative recruiting function across all aspects of qualitative market research projects including bid process, recruiting, vendor management, invoice reconciliation, through to project close process. Administrative tasks related to the function include (but not limited to); supporting the project bids process, drafting market research screeners, coordinating project scheduling between RAs and recruiting vendors, tracking of project recruiting documents and project consent forms, invoice reconciliation.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Named Second Friendliest City in the U.S. — “Alexandria is ranked just behind Savannah, Georgia, and ranks above Boulder, Colorado; Charleston, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Asheville, North Carolina.” [Alexandria Living]

Safeway Hiring Assistant Store Director — “Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to: * Overall management responsibility for operation of retail grocery store, including store performance, control of cash, budget, inventory/security, customer services, and management of staff.” [Indeed]

Over $1 Million in SBA Loans Not Repaid Since 1987 — “@SBAgov has issued more than $1 million in low-interest disaster loans in #AlexandriaVA since 1987, and most of those loans were never paid back in full according to documents received through a #FOIA request.” [Twitter]

Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Puts Out Call For Donations — “YOU can support our Emergency COVID-19 Appeal for Funding for Scholarships for the Class of 2020.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Democrats Conduct First Monthly Online Update — Alexandria Democratic Committee Chair Clarence Tong and Mayor Justin Wilson talked about the upcoming presidential election and what it means for Alexandria. [Facebook]

Zebra Newspaper Goes Online For April, May, Possibly June — “There is no print issue this month. Because many of our distribution locations are closed and likely to be closed for several months, and I don’t want to put residents or my staff at risk to deliver to thousands of individual homes as we normally do, I have made the difficult decision to suspend publication of the The Zebra‘s print edition for the months of April and May, and possibly June.” [Zebra]

VIP Alexandria Magazine Launches GoFundMe to Pay Photographers — “Events were cancelled. Many of our advertisers were forced to temporarily close their doors and our distribution locations are no longer accessible. All of this, combined, has put our Independent Contractors – a team of talented photographers and writers – in a very difficult position.” [GoFundMe]

April 9 Last Day For Community Engagement on Oakville Triangle — “Stonebridge and Inova Health Systems will host a series of online community engagement opportunities regarding the proposed Oakville Triangle redevelopment, which will include recorded visual presentations to accompany materials posted on the project webpage.” [City of Alexandria]

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Former Vice President Joe Biden won the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s nearly annual straw poll on Sunday.

The event, which was attended by more than 100 people at Lost Boy Cider, is the first indicator of how Alexandria might turn out in the run up to Tuesday’s primary. Virginia is one of 15 states participating in Super Tuesday primary on March 3.

Biden, whose campaign was re-energized after winning the South Carolina primary on Saturday night, won the straw poll with 48 votes, or 38.7%. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took second place with 39 votes, or 31.5%; former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg took third place with 14 votes, or 11.29 percent; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took fourth place with 13 votes, or 10.4%; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar received 8 votes, or 6.4%.

Former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson spoke as a Biden surrogate, and said that the former vice president can beat Donald Trump this November.

“We are so divided. There is so much political hate out there,” Nelson said. “This presidential race in November is going to be decided on the swing states. You take a state like Pennsylvania, you take a state like mine, Florida, which is the swingingest of the swing states, and it’s always close. Joe Biden can beat Donald Trump in those swing states.”

In addition to the unofficial win, Biden’s campaign picked up the endorsement of Alexandria’s Rep. Don Beyer (D), who previously backed Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana mayor who announced earlier in the day that he had suspended his campaign.

Among attendees, local Democrat Gail Gordon Donegan was split between voting for Biden and Bloomberg.

“I’m strongly leaning Biden,” she said. “I really respect Bloomberg and what he has done for the gun violence prevention community and all that he has done to help elect Democrats with his money. I think at this point, though, that Biden might be our best chance to beat Trump and Bloomberg might be a good fit for a cabinet position down the road.”

At the event, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey spoke as a surrogate for Klobuchar, Councilman Mo Seifeldein spoke for Sanders, Councilman John Taylor Chapman spoke for Warren, and former Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg spoke for Bloomberg.

Sen. Tim Kaine, meanwhile, is scheduled to help the Biden campaign phone bank at its Eisenhower Avenue office this afternoon.

ADC Chair Clarence Tong said that the committee needs volunteers between now and November.

“The straw poll is an indicator, but we know that lots of Democrats will be turning out on Super Tuesday,” he said. “We’re trying to reach voters and recruit as many volunteers as possible to help us for the November election.”

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Hours before Democratic presidential hopefuls took to the debate stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, the campaign offices for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden opened in Alexandria.

Virginia is one of 15 states participating in the Super Tuesday primary on March 3, and the contest has the world wondering who will come out on top.

Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-31), a co-chair for Sanders’ campaign in Virginia, spoke at the packed opening of the new field office at 1314 King Street.

“I decided to run for office inspired by Sen. Sanders,” Guzman, the first Hispanic immigrant elected to the General Assembly, told the audience, which included Alexandria City Councilman Mo Seifeldein. “Within the last few days, I’ve been asked by many reporters about the electability of Bernie Sanders, and that’s the question of the hour.”

Guzman said that Sanders’s base has grown since 2016, and that the campaign is focusing on not only primary voters, but engaging with voters who have felt disenfranchised by the Democratic Party. The campaign is also opening a field office in Richmond and will have campus staging locations spread across every congressional district.

The Biden field office opened Wednesday at 2121 Eisenhower Ave, and featured Ambassador Cathy Russell, a vice chair for the campaign. Russell is the former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and was Second Lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff during the Obama Administration.

The candidates have made mixed inroads into Virginia. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, plans on speaking in Northern Virginia on Sunday — his latest visit since speaking in Alexandria in June — although the location of the event has yet to be determined. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg spoke in Richmond last weekend, his second trip since speaking in Alexandria in December. Bloomberg has also opened a campaign office in Arlington.

Neither Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who held a town hall event in Arlington last week, nor Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who spoke in Dale City in October, have scheduled events in Virginia leading up to Super Tuesday.

The Alexandria Democratic Committee plans to be out in full force at the polls on Super Tuesday to talk to voters and recruit volunteers, according to ADC Chair Clarence Tong.

“The ADC has been working to increase awareness and visibility of the Super Tuesday presidential primary, including holding our almost annual ADC Straw Poll on Sunday, March 1, at Lost Boy Cider,” Tong told ALXnow. “At that event, participants can hear from surrogates from each of the presidential campaigns.”

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Clarence Tong was re-elected as chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee after a lengthy meeting on Monday, Jan. 6.

Tong, who said that the upcoming November presidential election is the most important in our lifetime, received 81.5% of 189 votes cast, and defeated Boyd Walker for his fourth consecutive two-year term.

“We have the opportunity to build on the progress we have achieved together,” Tong told a packed house in the auditorium of the T.C. Williams Minnie Howard campus. “Our most important task will be unifying Democrats later this year… to defeat Donald Trump.”

The chair race was the only contested election for the ADC, and Walker did not mince words in his disdain for President Trump. With the Virginia Democratic Primary on March 3, Walker said that selecting a nominee that can defeat the president in the general election is paramount.

“If we don’t defeat Trump we’re not doing what we need to do to save our planet, to save our democracy. We’re putting a corrupt and dangerous person back in office,” Walker said. “So, what are we going to do? We are going to work our butts off to defeat Trump.”

The ADC also appointed:

  • VC Finance & Administration: Holly Wallace
  • Secretary: Mary Lyman
  • Treasurer: Elisabeth Campbell
  • VC Precinct Operations West: Sissy Walker
  • VC Precinct Operations East: Karen Witt
  • VC Communications: Mike Moran
  • VC Technology: Ricardo Alfaro
  • VC Outreach Team: Abdel-Rahman ElnoubiDaniel Mosier, Sharon Widmayer
  • VC Resolutions: Robert Nelson
  • Volunteer Coordinator: Steve Verdier
  • Leadership Circle Chair: Janet Vasak
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