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Rep. Don Beyer, of Virginia’s 8th District, speaks to supporters on election night at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray, Nov. 8, 2022 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria’s Democrat Congressman Don Beyer was easily reelected to his fifth term in office on Tuesday.

Beyer won the race for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District with 73% of the vote (188,285 votes) against Republican Karina Lipsman with 25% (64,503 votes) and less than 2% (3,764 votes) for Independent candidate Teddy Fikre, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

In Alexandria, that equated to:

  • Beyer won with 77% of the vote (40,226 votes)
  • Republican Karina Lipsman received 21% (10,930 votes)
  • Independent Teddy Fikre got 2% (794 votes)

“I’m just so grateful,” Beyer told Democrats at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray after his victory was assured. “This is the best job I’ve ever had the most meaningful chance I’ve ever had to have an impact on other people’s lives.”

Lipsman tweeted thanks to Beyer for his service, and said that she will continue to fight for a “failing” education system.

There were 52,072 votes cast in Alexandria, and Beyer won every precinct in the city. Lipsman’s best precinct was City Hall, where Beyer won with 60% of ballots cast (500 votes) and she got 39% (324 votes).

Beyer, a former lieutenant governor who also served as the Ambassador to Switzerland during the Obama administration, was first elected to Congress in 2014. Since then, Beyer has won reelection by a significant margin, winning 76% of the vote in 2018 and 75.8% in 2020.

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Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is addressing a key constituent concern — airplane noise — through the just-signed CHIPS Act.

The $280 billion bill is primarily focused on boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but contains other scientific research provisions. Among them is wording from Beyer to “bolster NASA’s efforts to reduce emissions from the aviation industry while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.”

“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district,” Beyer said in a statement yesterday. “I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law.”

The legislation “authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions,” Beyer’s office said in a press release.

The roar of jet engines from airliners arriving at and departing from National Airport has long been a concern of Arlington and Alexandria residents, particularly those who live along the flight paths near the Potomac River. Beyer has frequently pledged to address the noise issue from commercial airliners and military helicopters, writing letters to top federal officials about flight paths and attaching legislation to larger bills.

The full press release is below.

President Joe Biden yesterday signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, which included the first NASA authorization passed by Congress in over five years. That section of the Act, Title VII of the science division, included the full text of Rep. Don Beyer’s Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act. Beyer chairs the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics; he introduced the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act to bolster NASA’s efforts to create the next generation of climate-friendly aviation while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.

“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district. I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law,” said Beyer. “As the climate crisis continues to harm American communities, ensuring we are also tackling aviation emissions is vital. This piece of legislation does just that by making the necessary investments to develop the technology to make cleaner flight a reality in addition to driving innovation that would reduce aircraft noise pollution.” 

This legislation sets a goal for cleaner, quieter airplanes, accelerating NASA’s aeronautics work on reducing greenhouse gas and noise emissions. Specifically, this bill:

  • Establishes the ambitious goal of commercial airplanes emitting 50 percent less greenhouse gas compared to the highest performing aircraft in 2021 as well as being net-zero by 2050.
  • Challenges NASA to work with industry partners to carry out flight tests by 2025 that will enable industry to bring a new generation of more sustainable airplanes into service between 2030 and 2040.
  • Authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions.
  • Requires NASA to provide data and insight on new technologies to help the FAA’s work to ensure the safe and effective deployment of these technologies.

Text of the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act is available here.

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Body-worn camera (photo via Tony Webster/Flickr)

Rep. Don Beyer announced yesterday (Thursday)  that the Alexandria Police Department has officially been awarded $600,000 in federal funding to get the city’s beleaguered body-worn camera program off the ground.

The federal funding was allocated as part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) grant in the omnibus spending bill, which was approved in March pending the DOJ grant process. A spokesperson from Beyer’s office said the DOJ recently approved the grant, clearing the way for the money to get to the police department.

“I’m proud to announce that the DOJ’S Office of Justice Programs has awarded the funds to support this critically important initiative in our community,” Beyer said in a release. “Body worn cameras are an important and necessary tool for bringing more transparency, accountability, and trust in policing in our communities.”

The release noted that the Alexandria Police Department is the only full-service law enforcement agency in Northern Virginia without a body-worn camera program. While neighboring Arlington and Fairfax got body-worn camera program pilots up and running around 2016, a series of budget shortfalls and extensive finger-pointing between the police department and the city government meant Alexandria police officers only started wearing body cameras earlier this year.

Even the pilot program approved in this year’s budget was significantly scaled back to $2.2 million compared to the $13 million budget request from then-Police Chief Michael Brown.

Photo via Tony Webster/Flickr

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Alexandria Democrats on election day (photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook)

Today (Tuesday) is the last chance Alexandrians have to vote in the Democratic primary.

In-person voting is underway for the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, in which incumbent Rep. Don Beyer faces political newcomer, Arlingtonian Victoria Virasingh.

Election Day turnout was at about 1.5%, with 1,534 Alexandria residents voting in person, as of 10 a.m. today, according to the Alexandria Office of Voter Registration and Elections. But about 5,000 absentee ballots have been returned, bringing total turnout to about 6.7% of registered voters.

Virasingh, a daughter of immigrants, was born and raised in Arlington and is active with the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She was previously part of Communities in Schools at Barcroft Elementary School. Her professional resume includes work for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, and tech company Palantir.

Virasingh’s website lists some campaign priorities as housing for all, equity in education, securing a living wage and Medicare for all.

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

Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.

The winner will face any non-Democratic candidates in November. The Republican Party nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman.

How to vote

Any voter can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, regardless of party affiliation, because Virginia is an open primary state. The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, was May 31.

Polling locations are open until 7 p.m. Voters must cast their ballots at their assigned location, which can be found on the Virginia elections website. If mailing a ballot, it must be postmarked no later than today or delivered in person today.

Photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook

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Karina Lipsman, the Republican nominee for the 8th Congressional District, holds a campaign sign (via Fairfax County Republican Committee/Facebook)

Local Republicans nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman on Saturday to seek the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Early voting is underway for the primary to determine whether Lipsman faces Beyer or his primary challenger, Victoria Virasingh, in the November general election. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.

At the local GOP’s ranked choice convention, Lipsman earned 61.5% of the votes in the first round of vote counting, according to a press release on her campaign website.

Votes for Lipsman came out ahead of other Republican hopefuls as the slate of candidates sought to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Alexandria resident Kezia Tunnell received 19.12% of the vote, and the 2020 nominee Jeff Jordan received 15.92%. Two other candidates, McLean resident Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher, did not break 2.5%, the release stated.

Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment” in the 8th District, an email from Arlington GOP read. The seat has been held by a Democrat for decades, including by Beyer who won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Lipsman fled Ukraine when it was still under Soviet Union control and came to the United States with her mother and grandparents, according to her campaign website. They didn’t speak English, survived on food stamps and lived in low-income housing in Baltimore. When she was 18, Lipsman became a U.S. citizen.

https://twitter.com/KarinaCongress/status/1525243734480367617

She received a bachelor’s degree in economics while she was working full-time in the financial industry, and later earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins, according to the website. She’s worked in the national defense industry for over a decade.

Her website outlines priorities like supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion.

She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs. She also wrote, “We must fight the dangerous voices that call for lowering educational standards in the name of equity.”

After her nomination, Arlington Democrats posted to Twitter calling her an “extreme right candidate,” linking to a recording of her allegedly saying “Fauci should be jailed” at a candidate forum.

Lipsman’s website she mentions extremists and divisive politics. “Let’s be honest — there are loud extremists on both sides, who benefit from dividing our country, and we cannot let that happen,” it reads. “Divisive politics are poisonous and we must work together to overcome the gridlock on the critical issues that are facing our country.”

After living in Arlington for more than 10 years, she says she understands the issues facing the community.

“As your congresswoman, I will engage with you directly and represent your interests and put solutions for our district before partisan politics,” her website reads. “I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, ease transportation and improve our educational standards.”

Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee

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Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Congressman Don Beyer (D-8th) took a quick break from work in Washington today (March 18) for a tour of Alexandria Renew Enterprises’ RiverRenew Tunnel Project.

The $454.4 million project will replace Old Town’s combined sewer system to prevent 120 million gallons of combined sewage from flowing into the Potomac River every year. The project is partially funded through a $321 million loan from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and $50 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Virginia General Assembly mandated that the project be completed by 2025. Alexandria, Lynchburg and Richmond all have CSO projects in development — the latter of which Kaine worked on when he was a member of the Richmond City Council in the 1990s.

“The project had started before I got onto the council, and it’s still going on,” Kaine said after the tour. “It’s such an expensive and massive thing to do… It’s really interesting to see how you solve your challenge here.”

After the tour, Kaine discussed infrastructure and job training at Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge campus.

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In addition to ARPA funding, Alexandria is getting some love from the federal coffers for several longtime local priorities.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) announced last week that $5.4 million had been secured for ten infrastructure projects around Northern Virginia, all of which were in Beyer’s community project funding requests added to the omnibus spending bill.

“This project funding will support storm sewer and climate resilience improvements in Alexandria and Falls Church, improve IT services in Fairfax County, and fund mental health resources in Arlington,” Beyer said in a release. “It will support a pilot program for the deployment of body-worn cameras for the Alexandria Police Department, and help implement recommendations made by the National Park Service’s recently-completed safety study for GW Parkway. It will enhance pedestrian routes across our region, and expand our electric vehicle infrastructure.”

Beyer thanked his colleagues for the bipartisan effort in getting the funding passed and to local leaders who identified and helped develop the requests.

The Alexandria tranche of funding includes:

Project Name: Pilot Deployment of Body Worn Cameras in the Alexandria Police Department
Recipient: City of Alexandria
Amount Enacted: $600,000

Project Name: Clifford Avenue, Fulton Street & Manning Street Storm Sewer Improvements
Recipient: City of Alexandria
Amount Enacted: $420,000

Project Name: George Washington Memorial Parkway – Traffic and Safety Context Sensitive Solutions, Belle Haven to City of Alexandria
Recipient: City of Alexandria
Amount Enacted: $300,000

Alexandria has repeatedly failed to get a body camera program off the ground, with efforts going back as far as 2015. The $600,000 helps, but estimates have put the total cost to purchase and operate the cameras at $13 million.

The storm sewer improvements in Del Ray are also at an area long targeted for storm infrastructure investment. Some preliminary work began at the site in late February, according to the city website.

“I am thankful to my colleagues who enacted the legislation to fund these initiatives, and to the local leaders who worked with me to identify and develop the initial requests,” Beyer said. These projects will make a real, positive difference in our region.”

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The George Washington Birthday Parade returned to Alexandria on Monday after a two year hiatus. The streets of Old Town were lined with celebration for Washington’s 290th birthday.

Alexandria’s health care workers and first responders marched as parade grand marshals. The parade, which started at Gibbon and Fairfax Streets and snaked around City Hall, was attended by thousands. The event is the largest of its kind in the world honoring the founding father and first president.

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Some voters in the 8th District will get an in-person visit from their Congressman in the coming days.

Congressman Don Beyer is door-knocking for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate former Governor Terry McAuliffe. Beyer says he’s never met Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, but is wary that Virginia could reverse course on a number of issues.

“I’ll be doing lots of door-knocking in the coming weeks,” he said. “Youngkin, who I’ve never met, has promised to roll back things like universal background checks (to buy guns). I think we’re all terrified that Virginia could go the way of Texas and outlaw abortions six weeks after your last period. Virginia has come a long way and we do not want to move in the wrong direction.”

Youngkin has reportedly said that he supports banning abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, and that he would have voted against the Texas plan.

Over the past year, Beyer has also thrown his weight behind labor unions, voting in Congress in favor of granting them more bargaining rights. He also said that calls to defund the police are ‘One of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard,’ but did not comment on the recent City Council actions to defund and then reinstate the Alexandria City Public Schools’ school resource officer program.

With no plans to retire, the three-term Congressman says he’s more effective than ever, and that tensions in Washington have loosened considerably since Joe Biden was sworn in as president in January.

“I feel as effective as I have ever been,” Beyer said. “I don’t see anyone who could accomplish what I can accomplish right now. That won’t always be true.”

Beyer, 71, is running for reelection next year, and has a June 2022 primary opponent, Arlingtonian Victoria Virasingh.

“I do my my very best to stay as strong and fit as young as possible,” Beyer said. “I have no trouble working 60-to-70 hours a week, and I want to continue to do that. Obviously there’s an end to everything. I just don’t think it’s time.”

Beyer is also introducing a bill to require proof of vaccination on trains and planes.

“Businesses and agencies are demanding universal vaccination, because it’s not just about your personal health or personal freedom,” he said. “It’s because if you are sick you can go on and get other people sick. Vaccine resistance is prolonging this pandemic.”

He continued, “My bill, which says if you’re going to travel on a train or a plane or work in a train station or airport, you need to either be vaccinated or show proof that you haven’t had the disease for the last 72 hours.”

While Congress will be challenged to pass the Biden administration’s infrastructure and social spending bill and the “Build Back Better” plan, Beyer says he’s hopeful.

“With Biden as president, things are much calmer,” he said. “There are virtually no outrageous things coming up. There are difficult decisions that are made — to leave Afghanistan, for example. And there are difficult challenges ahead.”

“I feel very hopeful,” Beyer continued. “While there are partisan divisions, and while I don’t understand a lot of the Republican objections, for example raising the debt ceiling, it’s (Congress) still a fairly friendly place.”

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Morning Notes

River Farm gets taken off the market — “Local residents cheered over email and text messages Wednesday after learning that the American Horticultural Society’s board — or what remained of it — decided not to sell its 27-acre property overlooking the Potomac River.” [Alexandria Living]

Northern Virginia AFL-CIO presents award to Rep. Don Beyer — “When the bus drivers in Alexandria – the DASH workers (who had been trying to unionize over decades, actually), Alexandria City hired a union buster and Congressman Beyer stepped in and was very forceful with his language in making the city aware that the DASH workers had a right to organize.” [Zebra]

Let’s Meat On The Avenue is restocked again after Saturday outage — “It wasn’t just restaurants impacted by Saturday’s #ArtOnTheAvenue outage. After having to toss much of their inventory, @LetsmeatDelRay is restocked and open! Picked up some beautiful pork chops for dinner. What’s your #artontheavenueafterparty stop today?” [Twitter]

Free food pop-up distribution points announced — “ALIVE! provides bags of food for specific neighborhoods or apartments, in collaboration with community partners, in the parking lot at each pop-up emergency food distribution location.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy skies. High 77F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds. Low 63F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Lot attendant/Porter — “We have full and part time positions available.” [Indeed]

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