Alexandria, VA

Hundreds of Alexandrians, including U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) went to the polls for in-person early voting on Friday, September 18.

There were 518 cast ballots as of 12:30 p.m. at the city’s Office of Voter Registrations and Elections. There were reportedly around 50 people waiting in line for the office to open at 8 a.m.

Warner, who is running for reelection against Republican Daniel Gade, said that the long lines and turnout are indicative of the importance of this election.

More than a quarter of Alexandria’s 107,000 registered voters have already applied by mail to vote in the upcoming election.

Paul Alan Friedman, an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention for former Vice President Joe Biden, was in the front of the line to vote and said that the nation is facing a crisis.

“Trump is a barrier to our ability to tackle climate change, COVID-19, creating jobs and fixing our infrastructure in an environmentally sound way, which would address climate change and jobs,” Friedman said. “That’s why I made a special effort to be the first person to vote against Trump and Pence in Alexandria, and vote for the wonderful alternative team of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

The ballot for the November 3 election includes races for president and vice president, one U.S. Senate seat, the 8th Congressional District and two Virginia Constitutional amendments.

The deadline to vote in-person absentee is 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 31.

IN-PERSON EARLY VOTING begins today Virginia! You have several options to vote safely and securely this year. However you choose to cast your ballot, it’s critical that you vote and make your voice heard.

Posted by Senator Mark Warner on Friday, September 18, 2020

About 500 at noon and 786 at about 2:15pm, and this line hasn’t signed in yet. Things are going steady and well for the first day of early/absentee voting in Alexandria.

Posted by Jack Powers on Friday, September 18, 2020

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It’s the end of a busy week in Alexandria!

Our top story was the Del Ray car crash on Mount Vernon Avenue, and there’s some good news to report. The driver, who crashed her car due to a medical emergency, was sent home without any injuries the following day.

The city also experienced flooding after Thursday’s rainstorms, prompting the City Council to get an oral report on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stormwater management improvements. As reported, there have been more than a half dozen flood events in Alexandria this summer.

Council also received a report on the establishment of a community police review board, and sent it back for some additions. Namely, Council asked staff to include an option that would give the review board independent investigative authority, an action that prompted a police union to call the idea of the review board “superfluous.” Incidentally, crime stories are among the top articles read every week on ALXnow.

This was also the first week of the historic 2020-2021 school year, and with classes starting virtually it will be an altogether different experience than years past.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Driver Suffers Life Threatening Injuries in Del Ray Car Crash
  2. UPDATED: Flooding Reported in Parts of City After Heavy Rain
  3. Planning Commission Approves Density Compromise Despite Outrage from Civic Associations
  4. Video: Protestors Perform ‘Die-In’ Outside Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf’s Alexandria Home
  5. Arrest Made After Shots Fired in Old Town
  6. Police Investigating Public Indecency Incidents in Del Ray
  7. Police: Three Alexandria ABC Stores Broken Into, High-End Liquor Stolen
  8. Council to Vote on Requiring Face Masks in Alexandria
  9. Just Listed in Alexandria
  10. Hundreds in ‘Trumptilla’ Boat Parade Sail Past Alexandria
  11. Alexandria Woman Uninjured in Tuesday Carjacking at Gunpoint in Potomac Yard

Have a safe weekend!

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Morning Notes

Beyer: We Must Protect the U.S. Postal Service —  “I have been in touch with local postal officials, who express their commitment to ensuring the timely delivery and return of all ballots. This could be an issue in many parts of the country, however, and I will be working with my colleagues to exercise constant vigilance and ensure that elections are fair and safe. My Northern Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, serves as the chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and with his tireless leadership the House will do all it can to fix these problems and restore operations and service at USPS.” [Gazette]

Three City Parks Scheduled for Improvements — “Projects at or near Powhatan, Hooffs Run, and Brenman Parks to occur over next two months.” [Zebra]

City Holding Virtual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Online — “Alexandria’s ceremony is prerecorded and virtual to avoid a large gathering during the pandemic. It will include remarks from Mayor Justin Wilson, City Manager Mark Jinks, and representatives from the Alexandria Fire Department, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Office. There will also be a “Return to Quarters” bell-ringing ceremony.” [Patch]

Alexandria Wedding Showcase Goes Virtual — “Tune in virtually on Sunday, Sept. 13 to hear from a variety of vendors on trends, wedding industry changes, and what you need to know while planning your wedding during a pandemic.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Concert Series Starts Friday — “Enjoy the Carlyle Farmers Market while you attend the Concert! Alcohol is available for purchase at select vendor stands and bar as well BYOB-Bring Your Own Beverage will be observed in designated area.” [Facebook]

Harvest Moon Yoga Tonight in Del Ray — “Shine on Harvest Moon! Free outdoor yoga in Del Ray returns every Wed. Sept. 9 – Oct. 14, 6:00 – 7:00 pm at the Del Ray Psych & Wellness lot, 1900 Mt. Vernon Avenue (Corner of E. Bellefonte) in the Heart of Del Ray.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then mainly cloudy overnight with thunderstorms likely. Heavy and torrential downpours at times. Low 72F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Dog Walker and Pet Sitter — “Are you a veterinary technician who has been pet-sitting under the table to supplement your income? Have you worried about your lack of insurance or back-up plan if you got sick? If so, then joining Cat Nanny Jess might be the answer to all your worries!” [Indeed]

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Hundreds of boaters supporting President Trump sailed up the Potomac River on Sunday (September 6), as they took to the waves as part of the “Trumptilla” boating parades around the country.

The event saw both protestors and supporters along the waterfront as the boats sailed under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and up to the Memorial Bridge.

“For me at the end of the day it’s about freedom versus socialism,” said Matthew Truong, a former Republican Congressional candidate for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, who organized a small rally for the boaters at Jones Point Park. “What I see right now, it’s eerily similar to what happened in Vietnam before the fall of Saigon when the communists took over. All the violence, chaos, protests, a lot of crazy things — what that does is effect the minds of people.”

Virginia Delegate Mark Levine (D-45) was among the protestors who chanted, “Trump lies! People die!”

“Folks who think that Joe Biden is a socialist need to stop watching Fox News,” Levine said. “We need to take our country back. We have a president in the thrall of a Russian dictator, and doing everything he can to serve himself, and 200,000 unnecessarily dead Americans from coronavirus is not a price I’m willing to pay for anything. Every other country on the planet has handled this better than we have.”

A Nice view of the Boat Rally for Trump and Asian Pacific Americans rally support Trump on Sunday 6th September at Jones Point Park Alexrandria Virginia.

Posted by Phillips Nguyen on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Photos via courtesy Eli Wilson Photography

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The City of Alexandria is looking locals to help run the upcoming election in November.

“There are 30 precincts in the City of Alexandria, each requiring a minimum of 5 election officers,” the city said on its website. “These officers are needed to maintain a high level of service throughout Election Day… More than 200 election officers are needed to conduct each election (and as many as 500 for the Presidential Election). Alexandria enjoys an excellent reputation for conducting honest and efficient elections. The City needs your help to maintain this tradition.”

As a presidential election, high voter turnout is expected, though the city has also seen a record number of absentee ballots requested.

Election workers are required to report for work at 4:45 a.m. on election day and prepare the polls for voting. They are tasked with setting up voting equipment and verifying voter registrations during the day, then closing the polling place down and certifying the results to the precinct.

Election workers are also required to attend a training session before the election.

The work is paid, with $225 for chief officers, $150 for assistant chief officers, and $125 for election officers. There’s also a small $25 stipend for attending the training.

To qualify, election workers must:

  • You are a registered voter in Virginia.
  • You are civic-minded with basic computer user skills.
  • You must attend a training class prior to Election Day.
  • You must be available to work the entire day on Election Day.
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In 2016, Alexandria’s Office of Voter Registrations and Elections sent out 1,668 absentee ballots by mail in September. This year, there are 18,498 applicants already signed up.

“We have definitely seen a large increase in absentee by mail ballot requests,” said Angie Maniglia Turner, Alexandria’s new General Registrar. “[As of] this morning we’ve had 18,498 applications processed and they’re coming in every moment. This year is going to be very unique.”

Turner said the main question her office has received so far has been voters wondering where their ballots are. Turner said that the first round isn’t sent out until mid-September. The deadline to register for an absentee ballot is Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. That’s when the registration has to be physically received by the Office of Voter Registrations and Elections, so Turner advised those hoping to vote absentee to send in their request as soon as possible.

While there have been concerns about how long it could take for absentee votes to be tallied, Turner said that Virginia law allows election offices to do something called pre-processing.

“That means we can process absentee ballots and do everything we’d do on election day except tallying,” Turner said. “That allows us an opportunity to ensure we can get all of these processed in time.”

The state is also currently reviewing whether dropbox voting will be allowed, though no decision has been made yet.

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U.S. Senator Kamala Harris was named Joe Biden’s vice presidential candidate on Tuesday, and some in the deeply blue Alexandria are celebrating.

Alexandria Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) said Harris is a powerful and historic choice.

“I congratulate Vice President Biden, who knows better than anyone the importance of this decision, on his excellent judgment, and I congratulate Senator Harris,” Beyer said in a statement. “This is a ticket that will get things done.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said he appreciated Harris’ background in local politics. The California Senator previously served as a district attorney in San Francisco and as Attorney General of California.

“I’m super excited,” Wilson said. “I was excited to endorse her a year ago for president. I thought she brought an important voice to the ticket. At a time where a clear vision for the future of the country is needed, she’s not only someone who can articulate that vision but she’s also really a fighter. She showed that in the Senate and in California.”

It’s one of the few traits she shares with her opponent, Vice President Mike Pence, who was a Congressman from 2001 to 2013 and then governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017.

“I’m also particularly excited as someone privileged to lead a city,” Wilson said. “I’m excited to have someone who comes out of a city and has experience in city government. There is a lot of urban innovation and I’m hopeful the federal government will be back as a partner… as it relates to housing and economic and workforce development.”

Federal and local partnerships had been particularly vital over the last few months as the city utilized federal CARES Act funding to programs like rent assistance and small business grants.

Del. Charniele Herring was also an early supporter of Harris and shared her reaction on Twitter.

Other Alexandria Democratic leadership swiftly rallied around Harris.

“A winner of three statewide elections in America’s largest state and a smart, tough, effective leader, Harris lives and breathes our country’s progressive values,” Del. Mark Levine wrote in an email. “I’m confident she will give Biden good advice in the Oval Office and be an effective President, if necessary, in the event of tragedy.”

Biden-Harris 2020! Time to take back the White House!!!

Posted by John T. Chapman on Tuesday, August 11, 2020

“Amid a strong field of highly qualified women, Senator Harris stands out as a powerful and historic choice,” said Congressman Don Beyer. “Senator Harris’ leadership in America’s largest state, her commitment to progressive ideals, and her battle-tested record in the U.S. Senate all speak to her readiness to serve. If elected, she will break barriers as the first woman, the first Black American, the first Asian American, and the first HBCU graduate to hold the office. Kamala Harris will be a great Vice President.”

Harris has faced some criticism from Democrats further on the left who say she did little to prosecute cases of excessive force by police and has referred to herself as a “top cop,” according to the New York Times — is tone deaf in an era of widespread protest against police brutality and injustice.

Wilson said he recognized those concerns but said that Harris’ experience inside the judicial system will mean she has the experience to make changes.

“As we turn a very critical eye to the criminal justice system, I think having folks who have been on the inside and understand how the system works on a ground level is going to be vey important,” Wilson said. “Folks like me who don’t have a law degree or experiencing on the policing and judicial side, we can say things but having someone like her with her experience is going to be very helpful. Having someone on the federal side is going to be very important.”

During the campaign, neither Harris nor Biden visited Alexandria (which voted overwhelmingly for Biden in the primary). Wilson said he hopes the situation will be improved enough to have campaign rallies in Alexandria, but that currently the public health considerations come first.

“If we can’t welcome her as a vice presidential candidate this year,” Wilson said, “I hope we can welcome her as Vice President next year.”

James Cullum contributed to this story
Photo via Charniele Herring/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Beyer Warns of Trump Election Conspiracy in November — “Trump’s threat to defy the will of the American people by refusing to accept election results in November is particularly alarming given what is happening in Portland. Trump is not a king. All who swore an oath to defend the Consit(u)tion must reject this, regardless of party.” [Twitter]

November Election Less Than 100 Days Away — “Election day is just a little over 100 days away. For the first time in Virginia history, you can request a ballot in the mail with no excuse required!” [Twitter]

More Alexandria Playgrounds Reopen — “The City of Alexandria announced this evening that its playgrounds as well as those on Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) property have reopened to the public. They were shuttered in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” [Zebra]

Seazante` Williams Oliver Named Principal at George Mason Elementary School — Oliver is a familiar face around George Mason. She has served at the school as assistant principal since 2012, and just last month, became interim principal. She assumes the duties of principal on July 20. [Zebra]

Library Hosting Virtual ‘Rocknoceros’ Concert at 11 a.m. Today — “Children will enjoy bopping along to Williebob and Boogie Bennie’s catchy tunes. All ages.” [Alexandria Library]

ARHA Board Meeting This Wednesday — “The meetings will immediately convene in Executive Session to discuss important matters.” [City of Alexandria]

New Job: Dog Walker/Pet Sitter — “We are currently hiring exceptional pet sitters and dog walkers to join our wonderful team. This position is fun and rewarding as you get to enjoy the outdoors, get exercise and be loved by amazing local dogs, cats and other companion animals!” [Indeed]

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Alexandria’s Congressman Don Beyer is still working from home, and he’s not happy. He says is office is constantly inundated with calls from constituents angry about a host of issues.

“Did you watch that farce of a speech in the Rose Garden?” Beyer asked ALXnow over the phone. “It was pretty outrageous. You know, it depends on the day, but generally the phone rings off the hook from constituents. Ninety percent of our calls are from people upset with what’s happening with the White House, and since there is a new outrage every day – it’s literally day by day.”

Beyer said the biggest most recent issue was the U.S. turning away visas for international students — a policy which the administration just reversed. Now he says the voters in the 8th Congressional District are worried about mail-in voting and not wanting to stand in line for hours on election day in November.

“Trump definitely seems to be spiraling out of control,” Beyer said. “He’s afraid he’s going to lose. My fear will be Trump’s allegations of cheating when there is little cheating going on. Yes, we know that many of the swing states with Republican governors are trying to suppress the vote, but that’s not a new phenomenon. Georgia, for example is the saddest, by cutting the number of voting machines in Democratic precincts.”

Beyer added, “Biden is going to beat him by many millions of votes, and I hope and expect the Electoral College. But the balance of power depends on respect for the law. Donald Trump has no respect for the law. He has ignored Congress in every possible way. I have constituents every day who ask me to do something about it. What else do you want me to do? He was impeached in the House, and that took a while.”

Well before the pandemic, Beyer’s Twitter account was a daily outlet for his criticism against the president. The coronavirus added fuel to his fire, and without any votes this week in the House, Beyer is stuck at home.

“We’re setting new records for recorded coronavirus cases every day,” Beyer said.

Additionally, unemployment will soon be slashed, as the Senate did not pass an extension of the $600 weekly unemployment boost legislation. Beyer has since condemned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Twitter.

“A third of Kentucky adults are on unemployment insurance,” Beyer said. “In Virginia, we had 800,000 people apply, which is 10% of the total population. In 15 days the payments going out will go from $837 to $237. I don’t know anybody who can survive on that every week.”

Beyer, who is a former Lieutenant Governor, said that he is not worried about ACPS making the right decision regarding reopening school this fall.

“Let’s not be worried about grades,” Beyer said. “Look at the CDC guidelines. When you put children together you risk a viral explosion. The local school systems have figured it out. Fairfax County has given them the option to go to school or not or engage in distance learning. Fairfax County figured it out pretty well, and so will Alexandria.”

File photo

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Morning Notes

Gade Wins Primary, Faces Warner in November Election — “Gade handily defeated Thomas A. Speciale II and Alissa A. Baldwin in Tuesday’s Republican primary with about two-thirds of the votes cast statewide. In the City of Alexandria, Gade received about 63 percent of approximately 2,100 votes cast.” [Alexandria Living]

The Birchmere Reopening in July — “The Birchmere on Mount Vernon Avenue announced that the Billy Price Charm City Rhythm Band will perform July 10… During the public health emergency, there will be a $25 food and beverage minimum and a $5 fee the venue is calling a ‘Covid fee.'” [WTOP]

Two Free Food Distributions Today — “There will be a food distribution this Thursday, 6/25 from 5-6pm at John Adams with ALIVE and World Central Kitchen and this Saturday, 6/27 from 8:30-10:30am at both John Adams and Cora Kelly.” [Facebook]

New Job: DASH Temperature and Wellness Screener — “DASH is looking for temporary Temperature and Wellness Screeners to work full-time and part-time at the Alexandria, VA facility. Medical experience and/or a medical certification is preferred but not required. Temporary assignment will start ASAP with end date depending on business needs related to COVID-19.” [Indeed]

New Job: Police Human Resources and Labor Relations Division Chief — “The Human Resources and Labor Relations Division Chief is responsible for a variety of departmental functions including human resources, budgeting, new police officer training, DCJS mandated training, employee wellness, Peer Support and resiliency programs, and engagement with departmental labor groups.” [City of Alexandria]

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Morning Notes

School System Gives Parents Update on Coronavirus — “We are finalizing our operational and instructional plan should we need to close for any length of time… Anyone with a fever should stay home from school for at least 24 hours after the fever has gone without the use of medication. Individuals who need medical care should contact their primary care physician. Anyone who has come into contact with anyone confirmed with coronavirus should contact the Alexandria Health Department. Potentially impacted schools will be thoroughly cleaned overnight.” [ACPS]  

CVS to Waive Prescription Delivery Fees — “CVS Health announced Monday that beginning immediately, the drugstore chain will ‘waive charges for home delivery of prescription medication,’ including locations in Alexandria… With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging people at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay at home as much as possible, this is a convenient option to avoid coming to the pharmacy for refills of prescriptions.” [Patch]

Beyer to Self-Quarantine After Exposure — “As coronavirus continues its rapid spread, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is among those self-quarantining after coming into contact with someone who had the disease. Beyer announced Tuesday night that he recently dined with a friend in D.C. who later tested positive for COVID-19.” [ARLnow]

Beyer Gains a GOP Challenger — “On Friday, Mark Ellmore officially filed to seek the Republican nomination for Congress from Virginia’s Eighth District in 2020…. It is currently represented in Congress by Democratic Rep. Don Beyer.” [Falls Church News-Press]

NOVA Teen Book Fest This Weekend Cancelled — “Our priority, as a festival, has been to create a transformative, positive and safe environment for all of our participants. With the recent spread of COVID-19 to the Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC Metro areas, we are unable to ensure that all of our authors, volunteers, exhibitors, staff and attendees will be safe at the festival this weekend.” [NOVA Teen Book Festival]

D.C.-Area Coronavirus Cases Rise — “Six new coronavirus cases were announced in Maryland and Virginia on Tuesday, and officials said several universities in the region will temporarily halt in-person classes in an effort to stop the virus from spreading. Twenty-two coronavirus cases have now been reported in the region.” [Washington Post]

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Former Vice President Joe Biden had a strong showing on Super Tuesday in Virginia and in Alexandria — where he won every precinct and 54% of the vote — but Alexandria’s second choice was not as clear cut and broke down along geographic lines.

Both senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were neck-and-neck with 18% of the vote, with Bloomberg trailing in fourth with 10% of the city’s vote, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Throughout Old Town, Biden won over 50% of the vote, but for the precincts at City Hall and North Old Town, Bloomberg came in second with around 15% of the vote.

Those were Bloomberg’s only second-place finishes in Alexandria. Across the rest of Alexandria, Warren and Sanders duked it out for second.

Warren won second in a stretch of Alexandria from Del Ray and Parkfairfax in the north. Those second place wins for Warren stopped at Quaker Lane, however. Seminary Hill, the West End, and Landmark areas all voted Biden in first and Sanders in second.

While Biden lost one precinct in Arlington to Sanders, he never dipped below 43% of the vote in Alexandria. The closest race was Precinct 302 at the Patrick Henry Recreation Center, where Biden was still 127 votes above Sanders.

There was also still some support for candidates who’d already dropped out. Counting the non-absentee votes, 64 people still showed up to the polls for Pete Buttigieg and 86 for Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Both got more total votes than still-in-the-race Tulsi Gabbard.

Absentee voting, largely reflecting a more crowded field prior to Biden’s big South Carolina primary win and endorsements from Buttigieg and Klobuchar, narrowly favored Warren. The Massachusetts senator received 21.3% of the absentee vote to 21.0% for Biden, 17.0% for Bloomberg, 16.4% for Buttigieg, 14.8% for Sanders, 8.1% for Klobuchar.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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