Photo via Victoria Virasingh/Facebook

Arlingtonian Victoria Virasingh has thrown her hat into the ring to challenge Rep. Don Beyer for the 8th District Democratic primary next year.

Beyer has held onto the 8th District, which includes parts of Arlington and Alexandria, since he won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Virasingh was born and raised in Arlington and is the vice chair of outreach for the Arlington Democrats. She was previously been part of Communities in Schools at Barcroft Elementary School. Her professional resume includes work for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, and controversial tech company Palantir.

“I was born in Arlington to immigrant parents,” Virasingh said. “My mom is from Ecuador. My dad was born to Punjabi Sikh refugees in Thailand. They are immigrants who worked minimum wage jobs here in Virginia’s 8th. I became the first in my family to go to college by getting a full scholarship to Stanford University. My story represents the American Dream, the belief that no matter where you come from, if you work hard you can achieve your own success.”

Virasingh said her return to the area for work highlighted that some of those support systems have gone.

“When I came back to work in Arlington it became clear to me that the structures — living wage, affordable housing — that helped my family succeed are gone,” Virasingh said. “We need to create opportunities for people to have healthcare and to live and work here. We need a $18/hour minimum wage, housing for all, equity in education and Medicare for All.

Virasingh said her life experience has shown her the need for “true progressive policies to level the playing field and provide opportunity for all.”

According to Virasingh’s website, some campaign priorities include:

  • Housing for all
  • Equity in education
  • Securing a living wage
  • Medicare for all

On Twitter, Virasingh noted that is she wins, she will be the first woman to hold the 8th District seat.

Virasingh listed the following as some examples of involvement in the 8th District.

I am the Vice-Chair Outreach for Arlington Democrats which means I work closely with our 9 caucuses.

I believe voter registration and education is an essential pillar of our democracy and as a precinct captain, I work to increase voter participation.

I was deployed to Barcroft Elementary School through Communities and Schools and worked side by side with the Site Coordinator there on family engagement, distribution of resource vouchers, and lead student programming.

During the pandemic, I lead Hispanic outreach for Rides to the Vaccines.

I strongly align myself with the mission and vision of Bridges to Independence, and they have called on me to  jump in on projects and meetings.

I am a member of the Arlington County Economic Development Commission.

Additionally, I attend meetings and events with LULAC, Latino Caucus, ASHPA, community events put on by interfaith communities in Arlington.

I am also part of Arlington Young Dems and the NAACP-Arlington Branch.

I built private-public partnerships at Palantir Technologies which led to the founding of the Future of Work Team. Leading the team took me to working in Europe while being based out of Germany.

While in California, I sat on the Youth Board of City Youth Now, a non profit organization that provides support to youth in the Juvenile system transitioning into independent living.

I have been an advisor for the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority which I was a part of in college.

“I think that our district deserves to have a representative that takes leadership on progressive issues and drives the conversation on issues affecting our constituents everyday,” said Virasingh. “I thank Representative Beyer for his service. I think it’s time for new leadership that matches the composition of our district. I think it’s time for new leadership that is not reactive to adopting progressive policies, but is proactive in leading the charge for progressive policies that lift our communities up.”

Beyer told ALXnow that he has also supported Medicare for all for years, and his plan for now is to focus on doing his job as best he can.

“The seat belongs to the people of Virginia’s 8th District,” Beyer said. “[Competitive elections] make our community stronger, our democracy stronger, and makes me a more effective candidate and leader. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. God bless her and I never want to discourage anyone from being involved.”

The 8th district seat is up in the 2022 election, and the Democratic primary is on June 21.

Photo via Victoria Virasingh/Facebook

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Former U.S. Senator John Warner died of heart failure at his home in Old Town on Tuesday night. He was 94.

Local and national leaders are remembering the Republican as an old school politician who bridged party lines with a cordiality that many say has been lost in American politics.

“John Warner truly was the best of what public service and elected leadership should be, and his loss leaves a deep void,” Governor Ralph Northam said in a statement. “Virginia, and America, have lost a giant.”

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said that he was stunned to hear of Warner’s passing.

“Virginia has lost an unmatched leader, and my family has lost a dear friend,” Kaine said in a statement. “Not having John Warner to go to for advice leaves a big hole in my life. But we can all celebrate a public servant who stood on principle, made us proud, and exemplified the best of what politics can be.”

Sen. Mark Warner (no relation), was Warner’s successor in the Senate in 2009, and said he was devastated by the loss. Both Warners faced each other in the general election for U.S. Senate in 1996, with the elder statesman winning 52.4% of the vote.

“I’m devastated to hear of the passing of my dear friend John Warner,” Warner said. “To me, he was the gold standard in Virginia. I will forever be grateful for his friendship and mentorship. I’ll miss you, John.”

Warner, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974, and was a U.S. Senator from 1979 to 2009. He was born in Washington, D.C. on February 27, 1927, and after the conflicts received a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. He became an assistant U.S. attorney in 1956, and later worked on Richard Nixon’s unsuccessful 1960 presidential campaign.

Warner was married three times, first from 1957 to 1973 to banking heiress Catherine Conover Mellon; followed by a six year marriage to movie star Elizabeth Taylor. In 2003, he married Jeanne Vander Myde, and the marriage lasted for the remainder of his life. He is also survived by three children.

“Senator Warner was a statesman and a patriot,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “They don’t make them like him anymore. He always put Virginia first and dearly loved Alexandria. We will miss him.”

Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th) said Warner was an icon.

“He was genuine,” Moran said. “He liked people. He never acted in any offensive way toward anybody. He was always looking to gain consensus and to move forward. I can tell you my 20 years on The Defense Appropriations Committee that the strength of our military was in large part because of the influence of John Warner.”

Former Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille considered Warner a friend and said that he sought his advice before entering politics. He said that Warner advised Euille, who up that that point had been a School Board member, on taking a political side and getting support from the base of a party instead of remaining an independent.

“John will be missed,” Euille said. “Despite being of different political parties, he was a human being and friend first and foremost.”

Funeral arrangements have not been released, and Northam has ordered all Virginia flags to be flown at half staff on the day of his funera..

Image via Sen. Tim Kaine/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer Enthusiastic After American Rescue Plan Passage — “THERE IT IS: the House just passed the American Rescue Plan, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk for signature! We did it!!!” [Twitter]

Metro Service Cuts Averted With Passage Of COVID Relief Bill — “While it will take more time to work out all the details, including Metro’s exact share of this funding, the $1.4 billion provided by the American Recovery Plan for our region’s transit agencies will allow us to avert the painful service reductions and layoffs that were on the table.” [Patch]

ACPS Transitions Special Education Middle-to-High Schoolers to In-Person Instruction — “Our hybrid schedule allows for students to return to the classroom two days a week.” [ACPS]

Del Ray Business Association Launches ‘Del Ray to Delray Beach’ Raffle — “One of the things we’re looking forward to most is traveling again.  This fun promotion is a way to say thank you to the community for their tremendous support of our small businesses, and to encourage customers to continue to shop local as we wrap up these tough winter months.” [Zebra]

Wooden Benches Replaced at City Marina — “The City Marina received a little facelift! All the old wooden benches have been replaced with new park standard benches. The new benches will improve visitor experience and aesthetics at the City Marina. We hope you get a chance to check them out!” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “A few passing clouds, otherwise generally sunny (during the day). High 76F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy skies in the evening, then becoming cloudy overnight. Low 57F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Experienced Sushi Chef — “Kaizen Tavern is expanding and we are looking for a Sushi Chef. We offer a great salary, benefits and the opportunity to grow a business together. The position is meant for a skilled, passionate sushi chef.” [Indeed]

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Updated at 2:30 p.m. — Vice President Kamala Harris managed to stitch a visit to Old Town knitting store fibre space (1319 Prince Street) into the day’s agenda.

It was the vice president’s first official visit to a small business since she took office in January. Harris spoke for more than a half hour with owner Danielle Romanetti and her staff about the impact of the pandemic and the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that’s working its way through the U.S. Senate.

“We have to understand… who are the folks who have been sacrificing on the front lines, and really are part of not only the economic engine, but to your point, the vitality of the community,” Harris said. “We have, for example, as part of the American Rescue Plan $15 billion that goes just into to small businesses. We have been paying a lot of attention to the fact that during COVID, two-and-a-half million women have left the workforce.”

Alexandria City Councilman John Taylor Chapman arranged the visit after being contacted last week by the vice president’s office.

“The vice president’s office was looking to chat with small, locally women- owned businesses and reached out to me and I connected them with fibre space,” Chapman told ALXnow. “It’s definitely an honor that she chose Alexandria for her first visit out of the White House. It was great to have her come across the river and spend time with us.”

Romanetti got a call from the White House on Friday, and opened her store after the visit at 2 p.m. She said that Harris likes to crochet, bought a hoodie for her daughter with the printed message “Come the apocalypse I will have clothing” on it, and talked about the relief that small businesses will experience in the event of the bill’s passage.

Communications officials on Harris’ staff said the vice president was discussing what women in the workforce are going through and how to get them the support needed.

“She’s actually really easy to talk to, and, and it was very comfortable,” Romanetti said. “Her daughter, Ella, is a knitwear designer who just was in Vogue. She just signed a contract with a with a designer to do a line of knitwear.”

Fibre space was one of several stores that took a severe hit last year from the pandemic. The store has been able to weather the last year with a PPP loan, a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and two small federally funded business grants from the City.

“I am hopeful that this bill will pass, and that it’s going to put a lot of money into small businesses,” Romanetti said. “A lot of business owners are wondering if there is gonna be more loan money available. We also need vaccines, and we need schools to safely reopen because those are also huge issues for business owners. That’s also a huge part of the relief bill.”

Shop employee Maiya Davis talked with her about her pandemic experience. She’s worked there for two-and-a-half years, and was forced to completely shift her life last March.

“We basically had to learn new jobs overnight,” Davis said. “It was a job that just kept changing depending on which struggles we were facing that day. We had to deal with stressed out customers, we had to deal with running a web store all of a sudden, which is something we hadn’t done before. And then we also had to deal with the loss of our community space.”

Alexandria marketing strategist Maurisa Potts was also in attendance, and told Harris about the experiences that dozens of her small business clients have experienced.

“From where I sit in having to service these clients and getting their message out and communicating the hardships and the innovation that’s been happening during this time, a relief package like this will greatly help them,” Potts said.

Vernon Miles and James Cullum contributed to this article.

Photos via Peter Velz/Twitter and fibre space

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U.S. Sen. Mark Warner has lived in Old Town for 35 years, and on a freezing Monday morning he learned about the lives of enslaved and free Blacks via a tour with Alexandria City Councilman John Taylor Chapman.

“We have to tell the whole story — the good, the bad, the ugly,” Warner told ALXnow. “I’ve lived in Alexandria for 35 years and I’m hearing some of these stories for the first time.”

Chapman, who founded the Manumission Tour Company in 2015 to tell stories about the struggle for freedom in Alexandria, said that he’s been trying to get VIPs like Warner to take one of his tours for years.

“We’ve had thousands of people come here (on Manumission tours),” Chapman said. “We’ve had family reunions, we’ve had VIPs… and a lot of out of town guests. So, I like to say especially for political reasons, I’m adding to the city coffers with my tourism company and my business taxes as well.”

The seven-block tour lasted just under an hour and included Lloyd House, the Fairfax-Moore-Montague House, the Oscar Ball runaway site, the Moses Hepburn homes, Gadsby’s Tavern and City Hall. Alexandria was a duty-free port of call with one of the largest slave trading operations in the country, making it a popular destination during the 19th century.

Warner, who acknowledged that Monday was a difficult day weather-wise to conduct an outdoor tour, attended in recognition of February as Black History Month.

“We lived last year through COVID, the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, an unprecedented election, and then starting on January 6, an insurrection at the Capitol,” Warner told ALXnow. “The history of this country, the history of our city, the history of the Commonwealth is a lot different than the history that probably I got taught with my school books back in the 1960s.”

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It was a cold week in Alexandria.

With bits of snow and temperatures hovering at around freezing, our top story this week was on Allison Priebe, the local business owner who was robbed while pumping gas in Old Town. Police later released suspect photos and advise anyone pumping gas to keep their keys with them and lock their vehicles.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria is now at 9,903 cases and no new deaths, which is an increase of about 150 cases since Monday’s report. Meanwhile, as the city contends with a growing vaccine waiting list, the Health Department is warning residents of COVID-19 vaccine scams.

More than 260 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about voting in the upcoming City Council and mayoral elections, and 87% plan on voting in the primary and general election; 6% only plan on voting in the primary; 5% aren’t voting and 1% will only vote in the primary.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:

Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
  2. BREAKING: Large Power Outage Reported in Old Town
  3. ACPS Releases Semifinalist Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School Renaming
  4. Just In: ‘QAnon Shaman’ from Capitol Siege Transferred to Alexandria Jail
  5. Poll: What Do You Think of the Proposed Heritage Development in Old Town
  6. Mayor: Brace Yourselves, It Could be End of Summer Before City Moves into Next Vaccine Phase
  7. BREAKING: Councilman Mo Seifeldein Running for Alexandria Mayor, Hatch Act Conflict in Question
  8. Alexandria Sheriff: Jailed ‘QAnon Shaman’s’ Organic Food Request is Normal
  9. Just In: James Lewis Files Paperwork to Enter City Council Race
  10. Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down
  11. City Councilman’s Virtual Super Bowl Party Ambushed by Racists and Nazi Trolls

Photo via Alexandria Police

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says COVID Relief Legislation Will Save Economy — “Today we answered the call of the American people by advancing big, ambitious legislation in @WaysMeansCmte to help end the pandemic and save the economy. We are working to meet the nation’s need with the scale and speed that this crisis requires.” [Twitter]

Northam Sends Letter to FEMA Asking for Increased Assistance With Vaccination — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a two-page letter to FEMA and HHS leaders requesting increased support for COVID-19 vaccination efforts of essential federal employees. It specifically asks that the federal government vaccinate its own workers, including contractors and WMATA employees.” [Zebra]

Photos: Alexandria Sheriff Trainees Get Sprayed in the Eyes — “The final day of field training for these recruits wasn’t a snow day, it was OC spray day! Deputies experience OC spray in a controlled situation during training so they know what to expect and how to keep focused if they’re exposed to it in the future.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Recycles 3 Million Pounds of Glass in Two-And-A-Half Years — “In 2.5 years, Alexandrian’s have recycled over 3 million pounds of glass at the drop off purple bins! You’re also keeping glass out of city-collected recycling carts…glass contamination is down from 26% to 10%. Keep it up! ” [Twitter]

Uncle C’s Chicken & Waffles Preparing to Open on Richmond Highway — “Richmond Highway will soon be getting a new spot for fried chicken and other Southern comfort foods. Uncle C’s Chicken & Waffles is opening at 6308 Richmond Hwy. The spot was previously home to Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, which closed in early 2018.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy skies (during the day). High 33F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy in the evening. Low 28F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Alexandria Police Officer — “Think you have what it takes to be one of Alexandria’s finest? The first steps are to apply and schedule a test. Apply today! Upcoming testing dates: 2/13 at 9:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. 2/18 at 5:00 p.m., 2/22 at 5:00 p.m.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Defense Weak During Senate Impeachment Hearing — “The House Managers established that Trump lied about the election, inspired the attackers to come to DC, directed them to the Capitol, and did nothing for hours to stop their violent attack. Senate Republicans objected, strenuously, to details of a phone call. And nothing else.” [Twitter]

CVS Starts Offering COVID-19 Vaccines in Alexandria and Fairfax County — “People interested in a vaccine are allowed to register through both the city or county health departments and through CVS at the same time, but local health department officials are pleading with people who get their vaccine through CVS to remove themselves from the health department waiting lists so others can get vaccinated faster.” [Alexandria Living]

ALIVE! Free Food Distribution Canceled — “The ALIVE! Trunk to Trunk Food Distribution scheduled for February 13 has been CANCELED due to forecasted weather conditions and the safety of residents, staff and volunteers. Instead, the distribution events will take place on February 20 at the same locations and times.” [Twitter]

Stracci Pizza Truck Brings Roman-Style Pizza to Del Ray — “Thomas Cardarelli, chef and owner of Stracci Pizza, (pronounced stráh-chee) always wanted to start something of his own — a high-tech, casual pizzeria. Then, the pandemic hit. His friend asked: ‘Why not get a food truck?'” [Alexandria Living]

Travel + Leisure Profiles Manumission Tour Company — “Explore different stories in Alexandria Virginia’s history of slaves who ran away to freedom using the underground railroad. Join us as we walk around Alexandria Virginia with John Chapman from Manumission Tours and explore some of these historical moments.” [Youtube]

Casa Chirilagua Revamps Food Pantry — “Casa Chirilagua brings access to non-perishable food items and cleaning products to the community through our pantry. With new shelving and reorganization, we can now hold hundreds of pounds of food and cleaning products. So far we’ve distributed 2,241 grocery bags of pantry items, valued at over $196,000. This could not be possible without your support!” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy with a mixture of rain and snow in the morning. Temps nearly steady in the mid to upper 30s. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precip 70%… Cloudy (in the evening). Low 26F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Real Estate Photographer — “Shoot anywhere from 2 to 4 properties per day.Deliver consistently excellent images up to company standards.Upload raw images to development services. Additional opportunities and pay are available for shooting night photography and weekends.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Images of Capitol Siege Should be Viewed by Everyone — “These images of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history are disturbing. But these things happened, and we cannot erase these events, their causes, or their meaning. Everyone should watch this.” [Twitter]

Pat Malone, Cancer Survivor to ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ for 24 Hours Straight — “Patrick J. ‘Pat’ Malone, a seven-year cancer survivor, and 20-year Air Force veteran will ‘stand up to cancer’ for 24-hours straight, during his Seventh Annual Stand Up To Cancer.” [Zebra]

City Says There Was Error in Vaccine Scheduling — ” AHD has recently identified an internal process error that resulted in several hundred people within the 65-74 age group receiving appointment phone calls out of order. To ensure that no one was skipped due to this error, AHD sent emails for appointment scheduling on Sunday, February 7. Many people who have already scheduled appointments or received vaccines were contacted, and those who received the email unnecessarily should ignore it. The link cannot be used to schedule second doses and it cannot be used by others. As of February 8, AHD has contacted everyone ages 65-74 who pre-registered for their first dose by 7:30 a.m. on January 12.” [City of Alexandria]

South Alex Construction Moving Along One Year After Fire — “One year ago on Monday, a large fire caused $48 million in damages to the South Alex development, which was under construction at the time. Now, developer Combined Properties and architect, Hord Coplan Macht, are getting closer to opening, despite the setback.” [Alexandria Living]

Former Mayor Kerry Donley Endorses Alyia Gaskins for City Council — “I am happy to support Alyia as she launches he campaign for City Council. Alyia has a solid background in public finance and community activism, which will be important as she serves Alexandria on City Council. Alyia represents the enthusiasm of a new age of the Alexandria community which will be important for years to come.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy skies in the morning will give way to cloudy skies during the afternoon. A few flurries or snow showers possible. High 43F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy with snow (in the evening). Low 32F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Private Piano Teacher — “Old Town Music School, an old fashioned preparatory Music School in Old Town Alexandria for over 20 years, is expanding and hiring a community of professional musicians/teachers who offer a nurturing, positive and personal approach to piano lessons. Students are beginning through advanced intermediate levels. Seeking out-going, motivated and fun teachers to join our faculty.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Polk Elementary Crossing Guard Dies — “It is with a heavy heart that we share that our beloved Charlotte Mills Ross, passed away peacefully January 31, 2021 at the age of 95. Mrs. Ross served for 50 years as our school crossing guard. She welcomed and protected generations of Polk Owls at the same corner, rain or shine. How blessed we are to have been able to have her for 50 years as a treasured legend of our community. The walkway from our gym to our fifth grade wing was named ‘Ross Walk’ in her honor, upon her retirement.” [Facebook]

Beyer Thanks 11 Republicans for Voting to Remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Committees — “My thanks to the 11 Republicans who joined us tonight to hold Marjorie Taylor Greene responsible for encouraging political violence against our colleagues. There should have been more. The resolution just passed with bipartisan support.” [Twitter]

City Real Property Tax Assessments Increase 2.7% — “On Tuesday evening, City Council will be receiving our 2021 Property Assessments. We will be seeing two very divergent stories: a residential tax base growing at the healthiest rate in some time and the commercial tax base shrinking quicker than we have seen in quite a while.” [Twitter]

Bishop Ireton Collects Donations Supporting Catholic Charities — “Thanks to the generous support of students, families and faculty, moms and babies will be receiving items through The Baby Closet, Mary’s Shelter and Birthright. These organizations serve the poorest of the poor and affirm the Catholic belief that life should be supported from conception to natural death. Thank you to everyone who donated!” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early with partial sunshine expected late. High 54F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Low near 30F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job:  Campagna Center Head Start Teacher — “The Teacher creates, maintains, and manages an attractive, warm, and challenging learning environment for young children, incorporating developmentally appropriate learning activities that meet the needs of the group as well as those of individual children. The Teacher collaborates with all staff to facilitate the utilization of needed services to the children and their families. The Teacher is responsible for keeping accurate reports and records for each child and ensuring that all of the necessary forms are completed and properly maintained.” [Indeed]

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