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.”
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]
Scott Shaw named Chamber’s 2021 Business Leader of the Year — “For the last six years, he has served as a partner of Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP). ARP operates nine restaurants including The Majestic and Theismann’s Restaurant… Outside of the restaurant industry, Shaw established Founders Hall and co-founded ALX Community. His community involvement includes serving as Chair of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. In this position… In 2017, Shaw founded the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Alexandria’s rich maritime history through educational programs and entertainment.” [Zebra]
Rep. Beyer says he’s working on securing stormwater management funding for Alexandria — “I’m also working to secure more federal funding for storm and sewer projects in ALX in upcoming infrastructure legislation.” [Twitter]
Alexandria accountant pleads guilty to tax fraud — “An accountant from Alexandria pleaded guilty Wednesday for his role in filing false tax returns that led to over $250,000 in federal tax loss.” [Patch]
Recent T.C. Williams High School graduate dies at 18 — “Tommy Lacey was a towering figure. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, he was a gentle giant with a passion for sports and hanging out with friends at Al’s Steakhouse in Del Ray. A standout lacrosse player, the 2021 graduate of T.C. Williams High School was preparing to attend James Madison University in the fall when he died unexpectedly on Aug. 4.” [Gazette]
Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy. High 91F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Scattered thunderstorms during the evening becoming more widespread overnight. Low 72F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Crew member at Trader Joe’s — “If you have a passion for people and a fervor for food, we’d love to meet you. We can teach you the rest.” [Indeed]
U.S. Housing and Ubran Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge was in Alexandria Friday to tour The Spire affordable housing complex and tout the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better agenda.
“There are so many people who live on the outskirts of hope in this country,” Fudge said. “I am in a community now… where the median value of a home is nearly $640,000. Most people can’t afford to live here. There is no place in this country today where a person making minimum wage can rent a two-bedroom apartment.”
Fudge continued, “This project makes me feel good about what I do every day,” Fudge said. “Affordable housing and low income housing was a problem before COVID. It is a bigger problem now.”
Fudge was accompanied on her visit by Congressman Don Beyer (D-8th) and Mayor Justin Wilson. The complex they visited has been praised, since the land was converted by the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection into a 113-apartment affordable housing community.
“We are so excited to welcome Secretary Fudge to the City of Alexandria, and to highlight this project especially,” Wilson said. “This is an exciting project in the city that has brought together so many city priorities.”
The administration’s $7 trillion COVID-relief plan would lower housing costs, raise wages for blue collar workers and would reportedly create millions of clean-energy jobs.
Alexandria is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and lost 90% of its affordable housing stock between 2000 and 2017. Consequently, the city has pledged to produce or develop thousands of units to meet 2030 regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
“We are one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world, certainly in America,” Beyer said. “We’re the best-educated, and there are many people still struggling and living in poverty among us… I believe we’re 150,000 affordable housing units short in Metropolitan Washington D.C.”
Public appearances from Biden Administration officials has become almost commonplace in Alexandria. President Biden visited the city in April and May to make discuss COVID-19, and, in March, Vice President Kamala Harris made her first official visit outside of the White House to stop by Old Town knitting shop fibre space. Also in April, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Ferdinand T. Day School.
What an absorbing week in Alexandria.
Just as the ball gets rolling with reopening and loosened restrictions, the pandemic rears its ugly head. With coronavirus transmission levels climbing, Alexandria is once again recommending that residents go back to wearing face masks indoors.
Our weekly poll found that 37% of respondents (337 votes) don’t plan to wear masks indoors again unless required, 32% (291 votes) never stopped wearing masks and plan to continue, and 30% (275 votes) stopped wearing masks indoors and plan to start again.
In the meantime, Three Dog Night, Tanya Tucker, and more are scheduled to play at the Birchmere next month, and the Little Theatre of Alexandria has gone back to in-person performances with its latest farce, Neil Simon’s Rumors. The city’s annual sidewalk sale is also on track to be largest ever, with participation from more than 70 local boutiques on the pedestrian-only blocks between 700 and 1100 King Street.
Turning toward the Olympics, Alexandria boxer Troy Isley won his first contest earlier this week, but lost his second match in a close split decision on Thursday night. Next week, Alexandria City High School will host a watch party for alumnus star sprinter Noah Lyles, who is the favorite to win the gold medal in the 200 meter race.
- Woman killed walking on Interstate 495 in Alexandria on Sunday morning
- ACPS to decide next week whether to require face masks when school restarts
- Newcomer Founders Bank eyes expansion to Alexandria
- Torpedo Factory Art Center goes back to requiring masks indoors
- Carjacking suspect suffers medical emergency while getting booked into Alexandria jail
- Rep. Beyer: Calls to defund police ‘one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard’
- GoFundMe launched for Will Nichols, retiring manager of St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Del Ray
- Report details life of Black Alexandrians post-Civil War in home slated for redevelopment
- Soul food brings flavor to multi-sensory African American walking tour in Old Town
- Alexandria exhibition for vintage and bizarre cars returns this fall
- Alexandria car dealership receptionist busted for alleged credit card fraud
- One year of lane closures in Potomac Yard starts today
- Man arrested after armed carjacking in West End
- BREAKING: Potomac Yard Metro opening pushed back to September 2022
- New Potomac Yard luxury condo community sells 30% of properties before construction starts
- Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
- Local Democrat challenges Rep. Don Beyer in 8th District Primary
- Cigar and vape shop to open on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray
- EXCLUSIVE: Halal slaughterhouse opens, gives away free chickens for first two days in business
- Without School Resource Officers, Superintendent wants more private security inside and police patrolling outside
- Poll: Do you plan on wearing a mask indoors again?
Have a safe weekend!
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) swung by Arlington’s County Board last week to recognize 60 local first responders who responded to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
It’s the latest step in a complicated dance for the congressman as he faces a new primary challenger, and Democrats nationwide grapple over balancing public safety concerns as outcry over police killings and accusations of brutality continue.
“The ‘defund the police‘ slogan is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard,” Beyer told ARLnow, adding: “I do think it’s completely fair and appropriate to continue to look at ways of making policing more effective.”
The slogan gained attention nationwide in protests last year, which have left Democrats divided.
The cry to cut police funding took center stage last year after the murder of George Floyd. Advocates say the slogan is part of efforts to shift resources away from heavily militarized police departments to housing, mental health programs and other services.
Beyer said police reform can include making how much departments spend to settle with victims of police brutality more transparent, which is part of the Cost of Police Misconduct Act. But generally, Beyer’s approach to police reform includes more carrots than sticks.
Part of that approach is evident in the Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act authored by Beyer, which offers grants to police departments for reporting hate crime statistics.
“Greatly strengthens reporting of hate crimes,” Beyer said. “Rather than punishing police for not collecting hate crime data, [the bill] gives them funding for doing it.”
Beyer said he supports the widespread use of body cameras, pushing to fund a pilot program in Alexandria and helping to ensure that U.S. Park Police are outfitted with body cameras after the shooting of Bijan Ghaisar. The congressman has been outspoken about seeking justice for Ghaisar’s family.
Beyer also believes in increased pay for police. Nationwide, police salaries have been increasing over the last few years. In Virginia, the mean income for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in 2020 was $60,190, though that doesn’t account for overtime.
“It’s about investing in the police to make them stronger and more effective, and part of that is increasing their incomes,” Beyer said. “There is strong research about the amount of education a police officer has and the likelihood of them being involved in police misconduct. What’s going to draw them? Better incomes.”
Beyer noted that members of the Capitol Police with whom he speaks regularly say they’re facing the same morale crisis that police departments are seeing nationwide, following outrage over a series of high-profile police shootings and violence. Last year, for instance, the Arlington County Police Department was called into D.C. to clear out protestors from Lafayette Square before they were recalled by county leadership.
“They’re really good people who are struggling right now,” Beyer said of the police force in general. “I read about the departures from police departments all over the country. That’s not sustainable. We have to make sure our police feel respected, and that includes independent citizen review. I was thrilled with Fairfax and now Alexandria set up independent citizen review. As we’ve seen too many times, it’s really hard to ask your peers to pass judgement on what you just did.”
The County Board voted last week to establish a new Community Oversight Board and Independent Policing Auditor, with subpoena powers, to investigate community complaints about police officers. The vote was criticized by the local NAACP for not going far enough in ensuring accountability.
In D.C., gun violence has surged over the last year. While Beyer said the causes for the increase are a complicated mix of issues related to poverty and discrimination, Beyer said there’s at least one immediate solution: appoint David Chipman as the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“I’m frustrated this wonderful guy, David Chipman, an ATF veteran that the president nominated him to lead ATF — it’s not clear that he’ll get through the Senate,” Beyer said. “[Opponents] fear that an ATF director will actually do something. There are more federally licensed firearms dealers in America than there are McDonald’s, but we have have no ATF director.”
Chipman passing Senate approval is unlikely, as even a single Democrat voting against his appointment would cause the vote to fail. Chipman’s critics decry the potential ATF Director’s advocacy for gun control.
“The 350 million guns in America are the big factor [on crime],” Beyer said. “It’s still way too easy for criminals and the mentally ill to get their hands on weapons. We’ve done virtually nothing about gun violence in this country. I think it’s naive to think just putting more police on the street is going to keep lowlifes from shooting each other from one corner to the other.”
The most recent example, Beyer said, was a shooting on 14th Street NW in D.C. that left two injured.
“That poor scene the other night on 14th Street — police were there in five seconds,” Beyer said. “Police were there in astonishing time, but that didn’t stop people from being badly wounded.”
Beyer’s 8th District seat is up for reelection in the 2022 election. The Democratic primary between Beyer and Victoria Virasingh is currently set for June 21, 2022.
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.
🚨 It’s official🚨 I’m running in VA-08! If elected, I will be the FIRST woman to represent my district! Fund the fight here!
— Victoria Virasingh (@Victoria4VA) July 20, 2021
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
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]
After a long meeting that stretched into the early hours of Wednesday, the Alexandria City Council punted on a collective bargaining ordinance to an upcoming special meeting.
The meeting, which is not yet officially set, is intended to allow Council members to go through issues line by line. The establishment of a community police review board was also pushed to the same meeting.
Congressman Don Beyer (D-8th) threw his weight behind Alexandria’s unions by speaking for a more inclusive and slowed down process in establishing the collective bargaining ordinance. The city’s draft ordinance limits the scope of bargaining to wages and benefits, and local labor groups say that the proposal is not enough.
“You end up making everybody mad when you kind of go incrementally on big picture issues,” Beyer told Council. “I know that some of the labor leaders have been critical of the first draft of the collective bargaining agreement. I’m not an expert on it, but I would encourage you to try to find a way to make sure that you don’t just win the battle potentially win the war.”
Earlier Tuesday, Beyer, voted in Congress favor of federal legislation granting more bargaining rights to unions.
Today, @HouseDemocrats are voting to pass the #PROAct – the most significant upgrade for workers’ collective bargaining rights in more than 80 years. Unions built the middle class. We must protect workers’ right to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. pic.twitter.com/bf7kEAMVgj
— Joint Economic Committee Democrats (@JECDems) March 9, 2021
Josh Turner, president of the Alexandria Fire Fighters Inc. and International Association of Firefighters Local 2141, said that the city’s proposal is counterproductive and restrictive.
“The current city proposals are so narrow and restricted to the process of collaborative problem solving, they would be counterproductive to the prospects of expanding the firefighters voice, just focusing on wages and benefits locks the door on improving public safety services, the services that benefit all residents,” Turner told Council. “I’m glad to city wants to be among the first in the Commonwealth to pass a collective bargaining ordinance. However, on behalf of the city’s labor organizations, I ask that instead of passing a narrow version of collective bargaining proposed by the city’s administration, you demand that the city pass an ordinance that gives employees a real voice and a seat at the table.”
Collective bargaining was made possible with passage House Bill 582 last year, and Governor Ralph Northam postponed its implementation until May 2021 due to the pandemic.
The scope of bargaining remains chief among the issues complicating the passage of the ordinance.
City staff were asked last month to go back to the drawing board by reengaging with unions and employee organizations on the scope of bargaining, the number of bargaining units, the exclusion of public safety supervisors from bargaining units, the selection of the labor relations administrator and where staff stands on mediations in the event of an impasse with the city manager’s office.
While Alexandria already engages in collective bargaining with the DASH transit company, Cynthia Hudson, an attorney hired by the city to draft the ordinance, says that the city should take a cautious approach to the issue given its limited experience and only focus on negotiating over wages and benefits, and then expand negotiating if warranted by council at a later date.
“We simply were not able to meaningfully come together on that,” Hudson said. “The staff still stands by the recommendation of wages and benefits to start.”
Even though the matter has been pushed to the special meeting, Councilman Canek Aguirre said that the city does yet have to decide on the matter.
Northam Remarks on a Year of Coronavirus — “For far too many people, life will never be the same again. It has been a hard year, but I have been encouraged by the strength of Virginians in every corner of our Commonwealth.” [Patch]
Beyer Remarks on a Year of Coronavirus — “A year ago today Virginia’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed at Ft. Belvoir in Fairfax County. I remember it like it was yesterday, a frightening time. We’ve lost so many people since then, as the country endured misery and hardship. But we are going to beat this virus.” [Twitter]
Plant-Based Cottage Bakery Coming to Del Ray — “Soon, Del Ray residents and visitors will be able to follow their noses to a new place for flaky croissants and more: Le Petit Grump. The cottage bakery is starting small – really small, in fact. Owner Mel Gumina’s 437-square-foot home in Del Ray is the place where the magic has been happening for months as Gumina perfects her pastries in anticipation of a springtime opening.” [Gazette]
Capital Bikeshare Comes to West End — “West End: Another @bikeshare station has been installed…on Taney Ave., near Howard St. More stations on the way…” [Twitter]
Art Adorns Alexandria Trails in New Public Art Initiative — “Artist Cristina Fletcher spent Thursday moving ladders and hanging colorful birds from trees along Holmes Run Trail in Alexandria’s West End. She is one of three artists installing public art exhibitions on Alexandria park trails as part of a grant program from the Alexandria Commission on the Arts.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s Weather — “Sunny skies. High 54F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph… Mostly clear skies. Low 37F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Youth Soccer Coach — “Soccer Shots blends soccer, education, and fun into high energy 30-minute sessions to kids ages 2-8 throughout the DC/MD/VA area. You’ll laugh. You’ll break a sweat. And you’ll go home at the end of the day knowing that you made a difference.” [Indeed]