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Voting at Alexandria City Hall (staff photo by James Cullum)

Virginia’s dual presidential primary is Tuesday, March 5. Here’s what you need to know about Super Tuesday in Alexandria.

Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Unofficial results will be posted with the Virginia State Board of Elections after polls close. Virginia is one of 15 states conducting a presidential primary on Tuesday.

The Democrat ballot features three names — President Joe Biden, Rep. Dean Benson Philips (D-MN) and Marianne Williamson. Williamson had dropped out of the race but has since un-suspended her campaign.

There are six candidates on the Republican ballot, including a number who suspended their campaigns. Republican frontrunner former President Donald Trump is on the ballot with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

The ballot also includes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ryan L. Brinkley and Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, though all of them have dropped out of the race.

In Alexandria, the ballots will contain a contest for either the Democratic or Republican nominee for President of the United States,” notes the Alexandria Office of Voter Registration and Elections. “In Dual Primary Elections, qualified voters may vote in either Primary, but not both. They must indicate their choice to the Pollbook officer and may not be challenged on their choice.”

In the last Democrat presidential primary in March 2020, Biden won with nearly 50% of ballots cast, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with 18.33% and then Sen. Bernie Sanders with 18.23%.

Early voting started on January 19, and the in-person early voting deadline is March 2 at 5 p.m. at the city’s Office of Voter Registrations and Elections (132 N. Royal Street).

There are a number of polling place changes for the primary.

According to the city registrar’s office:

  • The former South Port Apartments Precinct will vote at Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School (435 Ferdinand Day Drive)
  • The Masonic Temple Precinct has been relocated to Douglas MacArthur Elementary School (1101 Janney’s Lane)
  • Two new precincts (Del Pepper Center and The View Alexandria) have been brought on-line in the West End. Affected voters have been notified via mail, but we encourage all West End voters to double check their polling place

Voters are asked to show identification — anything from driver’s licenses to voter confirmation documents, a U.S. passport, employee identification or student identification. Unregistered voters can also register on Tuesday at their correct polling precinct.

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ALXnow will be running a series of City Council candidate interviews through the local election filing deadline on April 4.

City Councilman John Taylor Chapman says that he wants small businesses to come out on top, regardless of where the city lands with the $2 billion Potomac Yard arena deal.

Chapman says that it’s “interesting” that Alexandria is being considered for the arena, but that the deal has to be right for the city.

“I think we need to be poised, however we deal with the arena question, to attract business,” Chapman said in a recent interview. “We’re going to have the catalyzation of Potomac Yard. You’re going to be able to have smaller businesses and brands there, not just the national brand or the franchisee.”

He continued, “You are going to have people take a chance on Potomac Yard as a business concept. You don’t have to go very far to the Water Park development that JBG Smith just opened up in National Landing. That’s nothing but small businesses that came to the area. So, opening up opportunities for them happens when you have the catalyzation of that area.”

Like his Council colleagues, Chapman wants more city representation on the Virginia Stadium Authority board, which would own and finance the future home of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals. A House version of the bill to create the board was approved earlier this month, but the Senate version of the bill is currently stalled.

“We’ll see if it gets passed in the General Assembly,” Chapman said.

With 12 years of Council experience under his belt, Chapman is running for a fifth three-year term. Winning in the June 18 primary and general election in November would make him the senior member on the seven-person body.

“As Tysons Corner grows, how do we compete?” Chapman said. “As MGM and National Harbor grow, how do we compete? As tourism becomes more complex in the region, how do we compete? With the the challenges with office, how do we retain them? I think that’s the fight that we continue to be in.”

The Alexandria native said at his campaign kickoff last month that he’s a product of the rich and poor parts of the city. Chapman grew up with his single mother in public housing in Old Town, and also attended St. Stephens and St. Agnes School throughout middle and high school. He said that his upbringing reinforced a perspective that the city needs to protect its poor and elderly residents.

“I got to see the different side of Alexandria that many of us don’t really get to see and be a part of,” Chapman said. “During the day I went to school with some of the more wealthy folks in our community, and I was also in a community of folks who were trying to make ends meet.”

Chapman said that the city’s recent property tax assessments will mean that Council will have to consider cutting city services in the upcoming fiscal year 2025 budget. He also says that the city will have to keep converting office buildings into apartment buildings.

“It means for this year’s budget that we’re gonna have to look at cuts around city services,” Chapman said. “We need to continue to press on how we deal with losses in the commercial, particularly the office building, sector. We’ve converted a number of old office buildings to residential, and I think that’s something that’s going to continue. I’m not sure that’s in the long-term best interests of the city, because we the cyclical nature of things, but where we are right now, I think it is how you decrease the pain of falling office values.”

Some of that pain could get eased with the right kind agreement on the Potomac Yard arena, but Chapman said that the project has to meet a number of benchmarks.

“I think it’s a project that like many others, hits on the value system of the city,” he said. “Whether it’s aligned with some of our climate goals, whether it’s aligned with our kind of multimodal way that we look at transportation, brings in appropriate revenue and catalyzes the opportunity to have different amenities and municipal supports like schools and affordable housing within a neighborhood, attracts small, medium and large businesses, ensures that the process has resident input and residents can see the changes made through their input, and I think is an overall win for the city.”

By day, Chapman is a community use specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools. A West End resident, he says that the biggest changes in his life since being elected in 2012 have been his marriage and the birth of his son.

He also founded the Manumission Tour Company in 2016, and provides walking and bus Black history tours around the city. He says that after this election year that the tours will expand to include the West End, as well as a more in-depth look at the city’s African American churches.

On public safety, City Council will eventually consider City Manager Jim Parajon’s choice for the open police and fire chief positions.

On hiring a new police chief, Chapman said that the city manager needs to look for community focused candidates who are diverse, policy driven and able to communicate well with city hall.

“I think you need somebody that is able to communicate with all of our communities,” he said. “I’m not looking for a specific background, but I’m looking for that ability.”

Chapman said that the city is losing a responsive communicator in outgoing Mayor Justin Wilson, and that the next mayor needs to be a collaborator who knows how government works and can bring together the city’s business and residential communities.

“Relationships mattered, particularly during the pandemic,” Chapman said. “And the ability for our mayor to get on the phone with the chair of Arlington and the chair of Fairfax County to talk about what the region needs and then being able to lean in as a region and say, ‘This is who we are, this is what our challenges are, this is what we need. How do we work together to solve that, you know, bringing, you know, internally within the city, bringing partnerships together.”

Chapman is also the unofficial “Night Mayor” of Alexandria, a position he styled for himself after D.C. and New York City’s nightlife mayors were hired to improve the night lives in their respective cities. He says he will focus more on the city’s nightlife after the election.

“Once this election is over, I think the focus is back on what does what does evening look like for Alexandria?” he said. “How do we maximize the experience for folks who don’t want to go home at 8 p.m.?”

One way, potentially, could be Chapman’s idea to open up the 200 block of King Street as a pedestrian-only zone. The move would mean expanding the pedestrian-only zone at Alexandria’s waterfront and going all the way up to City Hall’s Market Square (301 King Street). Chapman wants to introduce the measure into the FY 2025 budget.

“We’ve done the zero block and the 100 block (of King Street), and the 200 block is the next step,” Chapman said. “Now I’m talking to those retailers to see if I can get their buy-in.”

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Alexandria City Council candidate Charlotte Scherer (staff photo by James Cullum)

ALXnow will be running a series of City Council candidate interviews through the local election filing deadline on April 4.

Alexandria City Council candidate Charlotte Scherer is running to be Alexandria’s first transgender City Councilor and is one of the few candidates firmly against the Potomac Yard arena deal.

Like her City Council opponents in the Democratic primary, Scherer is focusing her campaign on housing affordability, transparency and fully funding the Metro and city school systems. Unlike many of them, however, she is firmly against the $2 billion Potomac Yard arena deal, and stands with labor unions in their opposition.

“I stand firmly against the construction of the arena, primarily due to the considerable public investment and resources it requires,” Scherer said. “The prospect of creating 30,000 jobs loses its appeal when it becomes apparent that only a minority will (be offered) a living wage.”

Scherer continued, “The expected influx of tens of thousands of commuters from Maryland and the District on event nights will become a permanent feature of our lives.”

In the last three years, the former attorney and Alexandria magistrate said goodbye to her previous identity and changed her name to Charlotte Achelois Scherer. She also became the first trans member on the city’s Commission for Women.

“Alexandria is really facing a housing affordability crisis,” she told ALXnow. “Near 40% of people in Alexandria are paying more than a third of their gross income just to pay the mortgage or the rent. Something needs to be done about it.” 

In her campaign announcement to the Alexandria Democratic Committee (ADC), Scherer said that she had to undergo a journey within herself over the last several years.

“I came out to my wife in 2021 as transgender, and the first thing she said to me was, ‘We’re going to get through this,’ and we did,” Scherer said. “I didn’t even realize at the time just what kind of journey I was undertaking then, just beginning two-and-a-half years ago.”

Scherer says that she got multiple facial reconstructive surgeries and trained with a speech therapist to remodulate her voice. She says she paid for the surgeries from a large settlement from the Catholic Church in a case alleging sexual abuse against her when she was a child.

Scherer also admitted to getting a DUI in Howard County, Tennessee, in 2013. She says that therapy helped her to stop problematic drinking and eventually embrace her new identity.

“But for the DUI ten years ago, I would not have sought out therapy,” she said. “Without therapy, I would not have acknowledged the abuse that happened to me as a young child. Without speaking about that, I never would have received compensation. And compensation gave me the means of becoming who I truly am.”

Scherer has a law degree from the University of Florida. She says she tried about 60 cases as a public defender in Fort Myers, and is now studying online to get a Master’s Degree in psychology from Harvard University.

Scherer also unsuccessfully ran for a County Commissioner seat in Florida as a Republican in 2004. A Tampa Bay native, she says that the culture there leans Republican, and that she became a Democrat after moving to the D.C. area in 2011 to work as a contract attorney on legal teams negotiating mergers. She became a member of the ADC in 2015, after which Scherer and her future wife moved to the Braddock area, where they still live today.

On May 31, 2022, Scherer was arrested for trespassing inside Madison Street Tattoo (1012 Madison Street), which is within walking distance from her apartment. It was Memorial Day and Scherer had been asking for a Georgia O’Keefe-styled orchid tattoo for months from the shop, but was previously told via email that the service was unavailable. When the conversation with the manager intensified, shop owner Danny Zelsman left the customer he was tattooing and asked Scherer to leave.

“At that point, my manager said that she felt uncomfortable with the proximity of Ms. Scherer to her and that she was making us uncomfortable,” Zelsman recalled. “And Ms. Scherer slammed her fist down on the table and said, ‘You’re making me uncomfortable,’ at which point she sat down on the bench and refused to get up and leave, despite me saying that the police were coming.”

Scherer says that she refused to leave out of an act of civil disobedience.

“Madison Street Tattoos cannot deny they denied me service,” Scherer said. “I am absolutely convinced I did the right thing. A peaceful sit-down protest in the face of discriminatory actions.”

Scherer had been trying to get the tattoo for several months, but was told in an email in March that the traveling artist Madison Street Tattoo used for such work had recently parted ways with the business. The manager apologized and provided Scherer with the artist’s contact information, according to emails provided to ALXnow.

In one email, Scherer wrote, “Madison Street Tattoos made a promise to me four months ago — that’s what an appointment is, a promise. I don’t have an Instagram account, and I’m not going to set one up just to get blown off/brushed off/ignored again. I’m trans, I get kicked around enough.”

The trespassing charges were later dropped when Zelsman and Scherer signed an agreement where, in exchange for no charges, Scherer would not step within 1,000 feet of the business, disparage it in any way or take any legal action against it.

Zelsman said that Scherer should not hold public office.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to see this person in a position of power that’s dictating the way other people would live,” he said. “The level of calm and rationale that was not expressed here, in a moment of being rejected for a service that we don’t provide is really small potatoes. If that is the way you behave when you are dismissed by someone that’s just trying to run a small business and contribute to this community in some way, how is it gonna play out when you’re in City Council and making real decisions that really affect other people?”

Scherer said she’s focused on working hard to win her self-funded campaign, and that she’s seeking no endorsements.

“I am running to make Alexandria a better place,” Scherer said. “And I will always do the right thing in my heart and in my mind that I think is right.”

The Democratic primary is on June 18.

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ALXnow will be running a series of City Council candidate interviews through the local election filing deadline on April 4.

Kirk McPike jokes that he no longer has a work-life balance, he has a work-Council balance.

McPike, by day the chief of staff to California Democratic Congressman Mark Takano, says he’s seeking a second three-year term on Alexandria’s seven-seat City Council to help steer the city through issues like the $2 billion Potomac Yard arena deal, implementation of zoning for housing legislation, and development in the West End.

He says that the financial picture is positive for the Monumental Sports arena and entertainment district in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood, but that the journey to its development is rocky. He said that the city will need to work through the transportation impacts, as well as housing affordability in Potomac Yard.

“We need to see those elements related to transportation in particular, and really shake them down and check them out before we can say that this is something to move forward on,” McPike said. “We got to really dig into it and see if we can possibly make it work.”

Like his Council colleagues, McPike wants more city representation on the Virginia Stadium Authority board, which would own and finance the arena. A House version of the bill to create the board was approved earlier this month, but the Senate version of the bill is currently stalled.

“We can come to a deal that benefits the city financially and the Commonwealth financially,” McPike said. “One that has manageable impacts on some of the quality of life concerns that we have with any large development.”

Zoning for housing, which ended single-family housing zoning, was arguably the most controversial issue that Council tackled last year. That is, until the arena deal was unveiled in December.

“I would love to continue serving the second term to take on the implementation of zoning for housing, to make sure that those first projects get done correctly,” he said. “And if the Potomac Yard arena goes forward, there’s gonna be a lot of work that needs to be done to make sure that everything is done correctly.”

A native of Dallas, Texas, McPike received a political science degree from Southern Methodist University, and last year began part-time Masters studies in political science at George Mason University. He moved to the area to manage the successful campaign of State Sen. Adam Ebbin in 2011.

On crime, McPike said that he wished former Police Chief Don Hayes had addressed the Council when police provided an update on a crime surge. Now with Hayes retired, the city is undergoing a national search for his replacement,

“I think the police department both has its eye on the ball and has a lot of work to do,” McPike said. “Frankly, I do not think that the one we received last spring was appropriately handled.”

Council receives two briefings from police every year on crime, and will get briefed again this spring.

McPike said that the city needs to improve its communication efforts to non-English speaking residents. He said that hundreds of residents spoke at City Council’s two public hearings on the subject, but that none of the translators the city provided were needed.

“We didn’t need them once, because nobody from those communities showed up to speak,” McPike said. “Obviously, we’re not connecting with some of our particularly non-English speaking, new arrival communities to the degree that we should be, and that’s a failure for the city, because these are some of the people who use our city services the most, who may need city services they’re not receiving because they don’t know about them, and who are trying in many cases to solidify their foothold in our country and find a place to build their lives.”

McPike and his husband Cantor Jason Kaufman live in the Seminary Hill neighborhood with their beagle, Punky.

“Before I was elected, I had work-life balance,” McPike said. “Now I have work-Council balance. My husband has been incredibly generous with our time together, allowing me to spend a lot of evenings and hours on the weekends, doing council work, meeting with residents, attending the various boards and commissions that I’m appointed to. But we still carve out time, and Jason and I have dinner together basically every Friday night.”

McPike is also an avid Star Trek fan, and that like the fictional heroes of that universe, he says that he rejects cynicism.

“I would love it if I could be in any way shape or form compared to Captain Picard,” McPike said. “I don’t take as many risks as Captain Kirk, despite my name, and less likely to punch an omniscient being in the face as Captain Sisko.”

McPike continued, “I try to reject cynicism, which I think is very Star Trek. My general philosophy when people come to come to my office with a problem is that I want to get to yes. I try to empower the people and trust the people that I work with, and I try to be supportive of that.”

The Democratic primary is on June 18.

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ALXnow will be running a series of City Council candidate interviews through the local election filing deadline on April 4.

(Updated 2/15) After the tumult of the pandemic, Alexandria City Councilman Canek Aguirre thought this term would be a breeze.

Turns out it’s been anything but, with the city’s controversial upending of its residential zoning policies and welcoming of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals to Potomac Yard.

Now running for a third three-year term, Aguirre is touting a number of successes and says that the $2 billion Potomac Yard arena deal is “fragile,” but that it’s a net positive for the city.

“We can’t be stuck holding a bag with a bunch of debt,” Aguirre said. “I think that’s there’s still some questions around that. I just want to say this deal is very fragile. There’s a lot of different pitfalls.”

Aguirre wants more city representation on the Virginia Stadium Authority board, which would own and finance the arena. He also says that new taxes created for and generated from the site will potentially help pay for city services and keep residential property rates steady.

Transportation is the biggest portion of this that can completely fold the entire deal,”  Aguirre told ALXnow. “Not just funding but also making sure that we’re thinking outside the box to make adjustments to different modes across the region and across the area, because this isn’t just affecting Alexandria, it’s also Arlington and south Fairfax County. And honestly, because this potentially draws people from the entire region, how do we put protections in place for the community, for Del Ray and Arlandria, not just for parking, but also for housing.”

Like his colleagues, Aguirre was sworn in virtually after winning his second election in 2021. Now with nearly two terms under his belt, he is among the more senior members of Council, along with John Taylor Chapman (four terms), Vice Mayor Amy Jackson (two terms) and outgoing Mayor Justin Wilson (five terms).

“I was joking with Chapman and Wilson shortly after the 2021 election that this term was going to be easy,” Aguirre told ALXnow. “During the pandemic I didn’t take a day off for like a year-and-a-half, practically.”

Aguirre says that the city’s ARISE Guaranteed Income Pilot is his proudest achievement, providing $500 a month to 170 randomly selected participants for two years. He also said that the next mayor needs to be a communicator who can run a tight meeting.

“Definitely need a good communicator, someone who is collaborator, someone who’s willing to bring people together, who’s going to listen to everybody, try and bring all the ideas to the table,” said Aguirre, adding that he has not decided on whether to make an endorsement. “Personally, this is just my own thing, I like someone who knows how to run a tight meeting. You don’t want to be keeping people forever at meetings, and so being able to have a good meeting is as important to me as well.”

Aguirre announced that he’s running for reelection to the Alexandria Democratic Committee on Feb. 5.

“We’ve made some great strides together to meet collective bargaining agreements, Landmark Mall finally coming back to life, the first fare-free bus system in the region, and, oh, by the way, the largest electric bus fleet in the Commonwealth,” Aguirre told the ADC. “We opened a new metro station, we fully funded our schools and… all the while we still had time to do a guaranteed basic income pilot here in the city.”

He continued, “I don’t want to stop now. I want to keep on going. I want to keep on fighting for all you keep on fighting for our democratic values. So I’m humbly asking your support. I’m humbly asking for your vote.”

A first generation son of Mexican immigrants, Aguirre was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Latino studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For the last eight years has been chair of the Virginia Board of Social Work, and through City Council is the i

Aguirre is also the lone Latino running in this year’s June 18 Democratic primary, and says he’s looking out for the interests of the city’s fastest growing demographic. There are nearly 30,000 Latino residents in the city today (about 18% of all residents), about triple the number in 1990, according to the city.

“Even though I represent Alexandria, there’s a larger burden, if you will, representing for the region in the state, a growing demographic,” Aguirre said. “That’s not lost on me.”

Aguirre said in his next term he wants DASH bus service to continue to be free for riders, and for it to expand into Arlandria.

“That’s very important to me,” Aguirre said. “A huge pet peeve of mine is that the bus doesn’t go all the way down Mount Vernon Avenue. It basically stops at E. Reed Avenue and then doesn’t service the rest of Arlandria.”

Alexandria has also experienced a crime surge since the pandemic, and Aguirre said that the city’s search for a new police chief will help reduce crime.

“With the Chief retiring, we’re gonna have an opportunity to try and find somebody new and I think that’ll definitely be not just a priority, but something that’s drilled home with the next person in charge,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre’s campaign kickoff will be held at El Cuscatleco Restaurant (3819 Mount Vernon Avenue) on Feb. 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. Alexandria’s Democratic primary is on June 18.

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Alexandria’s political scene is heating up, as a number of Democrat candidates formally launched their campaigns over the weekend.

City Council Member Alyia Gaskins held a packed kickoff at Indochen in Cameron Station on Sunday, following her opponent Vice Mayor Amy Jackson’s kickoff on Jan. 21 at Doyle’s Outpost in the West End. On Saturday, City Council Member Kirk McPike launched his campaign at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray and City Council Member John Taylor Chapman did the same at Port City Brewing Company.

In her speech, Gaskins didn’t get into her positions on large projects in the city, like the Potomac Yard arena or the massive WestEnd development, but said that she is devoted to the nitty gritty of policies that maintain a quality of life for residents.

“I am running to be your next mayor to make sure that your city, that my city, that our collective city is a place that is safe, affordable, accessible, and one that truly and finally works for all of us,” Gaskins said.

A third mayoral candidate, Steven Peterson, will announce his candidacy to the Alexandria Democratic Committee on Monday, Feb. 5, followed by his formal kickoff later in the month.

City Council Members Sarah Bagley and Canek Aguirre are also running for reelection and have not announced when their kickoffs will be held. Aguirre is finalizing details for an event in Arlandria next month, he told ALXnow. Candidate Charlotte Scherer, a former Alexandria magistrate, is holding her campaign kickoff on Feb. 21 at Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe & Wine Bar in Old Town.

Chapman has been on council since 2012, and is the most senior member running for reelection. An Alexandria native who grew up in public housing, he said at his kickoff that doing City Council work is a “labor of love.”

“We have a thriving city,” he said. “It takes good policy, it takes advocating for resources.”

The other candidates with intentions to run haven’t announced when their campaigns will formally launch. They include Alexandria School Board Members Jacinta Greene and Abdel Elnoubi, West End Business Association President James Lewis, Del Ray’s Jesse O’Connell and Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority Resident Association President Kevin Harris.

The Democratic primary is on June 18. No Republican candidates have entered the race.

Campaign finances

Gaskins is leading the money race so far, raising $46,000 with $34,000 on-hand as of Dec. 31, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Jackson has raised $16,900, and has $15,800 on-hand.

Longtime City Council Member Del Pepper endorsed Gaskins and donated $3,000 to her campaign.

“She has the ability to work with people she disagrees with,” Pepper said at the event. “You’ve got to have that if you want to be a good mayor.”

In the Council race, Chapman leads with fundraising, having raised $19,579 with $16,624 on-hand. McPike has raised $14,790, with $12,087 on-hand, followed by Aguirre, who raised $7,020 and has $10,716 on-hand. Bagley raised $3,320 and has $856 on-hand and Scherer is self-financing her campaign and contributed $900.

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Del Ray’s Jesse O’Connell is running for the Alexandria City Council (courtesy photo)

Del Ray’s Jesse O’Connell has thrown his hat into the City Council race.

O’Connell launched a campaign website this morning and announced his intention to run in an email.

“I have been really lucky to work across a wide variety of city departments and issues,” O’Connell told ALXnow. “I think I have really good perspective on how all these things fit together. Fundamentally, I’m somebody that likes to solve problems. I think I’m really good at listening to people and sort of building consensus. I’m a collaborator, and I hope to bring that to Council.”

The married father of two is chief advancement officer at the American Council on Education, and has served for more than a decade on a number of city boards and commissions, including as chair of the city’s influential Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee. He sees himself as a collaborator, a “servant leader” who believes that the city’s Zoning for Housing policies don’t go far enough in expanding affordable housing opportunities. He also says he’s excited about the potential for a good deal with the controversial $2 billion Potomac Yard arena.

“I think a good deal looks like the opportunity to fundamentally change the city’s revenue projections,” O’Connell said. “We’ve made investments in our public safety workers, we are working on stormwater infrastructure, we are spending a lot of money on stuff that we have to spend money on, and a lot of that revenue burden is borne by our taxpayers. I think the chance to get kind of a transformative commercial-oriented source of revenue is a really exciting one for the city.”

O’Connell is a New Jersey native and moved to the area to attend Georgetown University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in social and public policy. He is also a former All-American track star, who placed fifth in the U.S. Olympic trials in 2004 in the 800 meters. He and his wife moved to Alexandria in 2012.

“The whole time we’ve lived here, I have looked for ways to give back and to contribute,” he said.

Since last August, he’s also co-authored an Alexandria-focused blog, ALXtra. It’s a satire blog, O’Connell says, humorously intended for millennials.

“I think the newsletter is very informed by kind of a millennial sensibility,” he said. “I think it’s very informed by kind of a literacy with internet culture.”

On Zoning for Housing, O’Connell said that the city’s elimination of single family zoning is a good start.

“I think where the city landed at the end of this first phase was the right place to be,” O’Connell said. “People want to live here because it’s a great place to live. If we don’t have the housing supply to meet that demand, prices are going to go up. I’ve been really encouraged to see the city think more holistically more creatively about giving this broader set of tools to meet that housing demand.”

O’Connell is also a running buddy with Mayor Justin Wilson, who is not running for reelection. He also said that the next mayor will have to be a collaborator.

“I think we’re losing somebody that is tireless and dedicated,” O’Connell said of Wilson. “I genuinely can’t think of a better example of constituent service. He’s responding to people and interacting with people at all hours of the day and night. It’s clear that he deeply cares about Alexandria and wants to ensure that Alexandria is able to be the city for a whole sort of wide set of people.”

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Tim Beaty is the new District A School Board member (via ACPS)

There’s a new member of the Alexandria School Board. Tim Beaty, the retired former global strategies director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was sworn into office on Thursday night.

Beaty won a special election on Jan. 9 to fill the seat vacated by former School Board Member Willie Bailey. He will fill the remaining 11 months of Bailey’s term before the next School Board is sworn into office in January 2025. During that time, he said that he wants to help Alexandria City Public Schools edge closer to a collective bargaining agreement with staff.

“I am truly honored to serve on the Alexandria City School Board,” Beaty said in a release. “I look forward to bringing that experience to the division as we move forward with collective bargaining to enhance labor-management relationships between employees and the division.”

Beaty moved to Alexandria a decade ago with his wife, who is a principal at a Fairfax County Elementary School. He retired two years ago, and has been a substitute teacher at two ACPS elementary schools since then.

“We are excited to welcome Mr. Beaty to serve on our School Board,” said School Board Chair Michelle Rief, who also represents District A. “Mr. Beaty has not only contributed directly to ACPS as a substitute teacher but the greater Alexandria community as well, volunteering and serving in various capacities throughout the city.”

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A voter participates in the Super Tuesday primary at Mount Vernon Community School, March 3, 2020 (Staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated 3:35 p.m.) Early voting will start on Friday, Jan. 19, for the dual Presidential primaries.

The primaries are scheduled for March 5. The deadline for early voting is March 2.

“The ballots will contain a contest for either the Democratic or Republican nominee for President of the United States,” a release from the City of Alexandria said. “In Dual Primary Elections, qualified voters may vote in either Primary, but not both.”

The release said voters must indicate their choice to the polling officer.

Incumbent President Joe Biden is running against Marianne Williamson and Dean Benson Phillips in the Democratic Presidential Primary.

On the Republican ballot is:

  • Chris Christie
  • Ryan Binkley
  • Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Donald Trump
  • Ron DeSantis
  • Nikki Haley

Christie and Ramaswamy have since dropped out of the race. In the Iowa primary, Trump led the pack with 51% of the vote, with DeSantis at 21% and Haley at 19%.

The Office of Voter Registration & Elections is open for in-person voting from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Tim Beaty asking for signatures to run in the January 9 special election for the open Alexandria School Board seat, at the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s monthly meeting at Alexandria City High School on Dec. 4, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 11:30 p.m.) Tim Beaty, the retired former global strategies director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was declared the winner in tonight’s special election for the open School Board District A seat. He defeated Gina Baum, an Alexandria City Public Schools parent and former longtime member of the city’s Park and Recreation Commission, and will be sworn into office next week.

Beaty won the election 1,270 votes (56%) to Baum’s 962 votes (43%), and 5.5% of the registered voters in District A (41,335 voters) cast ballots on this rainy Tuesday. District A includes Old Town, Del Ray, Potomac Yard and Arlandria. The results will be certified in the Alexandria Voter Registrar’s office near City Hall on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work,” Beaty told ALXnow. “I’m very grateful for everyone who endorsed me, from the two other School Board Members in District A, to the teachers union, four City Council Members and Sheriff Sean Casey. The endorsements were a reflection of some good friendships and relationships that I’ve been lucky to be involved with over the last few years.”

Baum called Beaty to concede at around 9:15 p.m.

The District A seat became available in late November when School Board Member Willie Bailey abruptly resigned, prompting the Alexandria Circuit Court to order the special election for Jan. 9. Beaty will serve out the remaining 11 months of Bailey’s term before the next School Board is sworn into office in January 2025.

Baum told ALXnow that having the month of December to campaign for political office was a daunting challenge.

“I think I started off slow, and started to gain traction with the (online candidate) forums when people heard my thoughts about improving schools, academic achievement and restoring teacher’s steps,” she said. “Hopefully that will influence the current budget process. The teachers really got the short end of the stick last year with their steps being frozen. Falls Church City is offering teachers step increases and a 3.5 COLA adjustment for an average 6% increase on top of their higher pay scale. ACPS leadership is not willing to compete at that level or provide that to our educators, who quite frankly deserve it.”

Beaty’s been a substitute teacher at two ACPS elementary schools since his retirement from the Teamsters two years ago, and will have to quit earning an ACPS paycheck in order to be a School Board member. He was previously global strategies director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and says that he wants to help the school system, get closer to a collective bargaining agreement with ACPS staff. He’s lived in Alexandria for a decade, has six grown children and is married to a Fairfax County Public Schools elementary school principal.

“I would really like to push hard in the direction of getting union recognition and collective bargaining much further along than it is now,” said Beaty. “I would also really like to make myself particularly available to the efforts that the school system is making with the Latino community so that they can take full advantage of the system in educating students.

Beaty’s seat, along with the eight other school board seats, is up for grabs in the Nov. 5 general election. Beaty says he will decide in the next few months whether he wants to run for the same office in November and complete a three-year term.

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