Alexandria, VA

Justin David Maddox, a former CIA branch chief with a deep background in identifying and disseminating political propaganda, has announced his candidacy as a Republican for the 45th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

“I am a counter-propaganda expert, and I hate lies,” Maddox told ALXnow. “What is driving me at a fundamental level is the concept that I can be a guy who brings truth to this organization (the General Assembly). I really want to do that.”

J.D. Maddox, as he’s known professionally, has been a member of Alexandria’s Commission on Information Technology since October 2020. Previously, he had a 22-year career with the federal government, starting in 1995 with a four year stint as a reservist in the U.S. Army leading a small team in “tactical propaganda dissemination, deception operations and intelligence gathering training,” according to his Linkedin page.

From 2001 to 2004 he spent tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a nuclear threat response team for the National Nuclear Security Agency. After that he spent two years briefing Congress and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on intelligence and law enforcement. From 2006 to 2011, he was a CIA branch chief assessing online propaganda from foreign adversaries, and from 2012 to 2017 he was the Deputy Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center at the U.S. State Department.

Maddox won’t say whether he supported former U.S. President Donald Trump, and instead says he wants to focus on the present and the future, not the politics of the past. He hasn’t yet spoken with incumbent Del. Mark Levine, who is running against Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker for the Democratic primary on June 8.

Maddox doesn’t have a blueprint for local issues, but said that he wants to focus on improving the public school system, the state’s IT infrastructure, Alexandria’s sewers, and the transportation network without raising taxes.

He also said he wants to develop fresh opinions on local issues by establishing focus groups and that he doesn’t want to insert divisive legislation into policy, which is one of the criticisms he had against Levine.

Levine’s House Bill 1800, for instance, calls for the removal of state funding to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It states that “(i)f the UDC wants to maintain statues or gravesites honoring slave-holding traitors, they can still do so, but they have to raise money from private funds and not rely on taxpayers to do so.”

Maddox said that the language is out of place.

“The current representative of the 45th District is actively calling southerners traitors in legislation,” Maddox said. “There’s a place for finding these solutions to our divisive problems, but it’s not by name calling, and it’s not through really inserting divisiveness into legislation. I want to move away from that.”

Maddox now runs his own government contracting firm, Inventive Insights, and is an adjunct professor teaching national security challenges at George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering. He also has a degree from St. John’s College and a Master’s Degree in national security studies from Georgetown University.

Courtesy photos

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Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker says she’s been serving residents of the 45th District for the last three years, and that she didn’t consider politics when moving into the district in December.

Bennett-Parker said that she moved with her 99-year-old grandmother, her husband and cat to the 45th District in December after her grandmother fell two times. The following month, she announced she was running for the seat, which is currently held held by Del. Mark Levine as he runs for Virginia Lieutenant Governor.

I am running because I think I have a lot to bring to this seat,” Bennett-Parker told ALXnow. “Having the perspective of being a small business creator, co-leading a nonprofit that works with underserved women in our community and serving on City Council, where we don’t always agree but we get things done, it gives me the insight and skills that it takes to be an effective delegate.”

Bennett-Parker would not say anything negative about Levine or his tenure in the House, but said that she would work with him well if he is elected lieutenant governor. Levine is also running for his House of Delegates seat against Bennett-Parker in the June 8 democratic primary.

“I wish him well in his bid for lieutenant governor and and I believe we would continue to work well together with him in that role,” she said.

During the last year, Bennett-Parker volunteered at food distributions with ALIVE! and World Central Kitchen, worked with Volunteer Alexandria and joined the Alexandria Medical Reserve Corps. One of her proudest moments was during spring break last year when a staffing shortage was forcing Alexandria City Public Schools to stop their daily free food distribution.

“Hunger doesn’t stop for spring break,” Bennett-Parker said. “I brought this to the attention of city staff and we worked to find a solution. Through my day job, I have a food manager’s license, and no one else who was available had, so I wound up leading the food prep efforts at the T.C. kitchen that week with an amazing group of RPCA (Recreation Parks and Cultural Activities) and ACPS staff, and as a result we will to continue providing food to students during spring break.”

Bennett-Parker said that she did not consider moving to the District to run for office.

“I moved because my grandmother fell twice within a week in our home, and thankfully she was fine but it was terrifying and our priority is to keep her safe,” she said. “

A political newcomer going into her election as vice mayor three years ago, she is now running as a Northern Virginian with local elected experience. She is also co-director of the nonprofit Together We Bake.

“One of the reasons I’m running is because of the limitations that have been placed on localities like Alexandria by the state,  leaving us lacking authority to really be able to serve our residents in the best way,” Bennett-Parker said. “That experience is lacking in Richmond, where there are now only 18 members of the House of Delegate who served in local elected office. None of those are from Northern Virginia, and we face different issues here than other parts of the state.”

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Critics of the  Taylor Run and Strawberry Run stream restoration projects will get some of their questions answered this spring.

A recent City Council memo is asking staff to schedule a legislative meeting — preferably in April — for an update on the projects, which a growing chorus say disrupt natural habitats. The issue would be raised during the oral reports portion of the Council meeting.

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Councilman John Taylor Chapman drafted the memo, which was sent to the city manager’s office on March 10.

“Over the past several months, city council has received public comment, emails and other communication regarding the city’s stream restoration projects at Strawberry Run and Taylor Run,” the memo states. “We are also hopeful, that given resident concerns, staff would be able to discuss the challenges and opportunities posed by alternatives that resident groups that come forward with, as well as any fiscal impact.”

There are two upcoming legislative meetings in April — on Tuesday, April 6, and on Tuesday, April 27.

Opposition has been led by the Environmental Council of Alexandria, which also says that the city’s soil tests at Taylor Run are not accurate. City Councilwoman Amy Jackson also recently went against the Taylor Run project after the Environmental Policy Commission (EPC) advised Council to step back. Staff’s plan to clear the waterway near T.C. Williams High School and Chinquapin Park will result in the removal of 269 trees, of which they say 22% are dead.

“The proposed restoration method will degrade — not improve — the physical, chemical and biological features of the stream and the adjacent natural resources,” wrote EPC chair Kathie Hoekstra. “We believe the City needs to step back and address unanswered questions before proceeding with a project that would irreversibly impact Chinquapin Park for several decades at least.”

Photo via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

GoFundMe Raises $29K for Family of Bishop Ireton Student — “It is with a heavy heart that the BI community mourns the death of our fellow classmate Andrew Benson, who was taken from us much too soon. He was one of the nicest people we knew and was a member of the BI varsity soccer team. He played fullback  and was an avid soccer player and was one of the hardest workers on the team. He always had a smile on his face and he never failed to make you smile with a joke or make a stressful or hard day a little better.  Please donate if you can or remember him in your thoughts and prayers. All proceeds go to the family and to help with funeral arrangements.” [GoFundMe]

Holy Cow Honors Sue Kovalsky with ‘Burger of the Moment’ — “Sue, we appreciate you! This #BOTM is for you.” [Facebook]

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter Announces Reelection Bid — “I hope that you will join us online for our campaign kick-off on Wednesday, March 3rd at 7:00 p.m. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about how you can be involved in this campaign and our vision of criminal justice reform.” [Facebook]

Virtual Open House on FEMA Flood Map Update Process — “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is updating its flood maps of Alexandria and has requested that the City of Alexandria provide community outreach assistance. The City will host a virtual open house on March 1, from 7 to 8 p.m. Residents and businesses are encouraged to participate to learn more about the update to the floodplain maps.” [City of Alexandria]

Bennett-Parker Gets More Endorsements in Race for 45th District Seat — “I’m honored to announce I have been endorsed by Arlington County Board, Vice-Chair @kcristol and Board Member @libbygarvey! Both have an impressive record of public service and I look forward to continuing to work with them on the issues that are important to our region.” [Twitter]

ALIVE! Free Food Distribution Set for Saturday — “On Sat, Feb 20, 8:30-10:30am, @ALIVE4AlexVA will distribute food in Cora Kelly Elem School parking lot and parking lot B-1 of NOVA-Alexandria Campus (map at alive-inc.org, if college closes due to weather, distribution cancelled).” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 36F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy (in the evening). Snow showers developing after midnight. Low 28F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Real Estate Photographer — “Nova Virtual Tours, Inc. provides photography, videography, aerials, and interactive 3D Virtual Tours to all industries. We work closely with realtors in the Northern Virginia area to provide them with marketing tools and media to sell their listings, and we also work with commercial clients in many different industries within NoVa and beyond.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Mayor Asks Residents to Shovel Snow — “Grab your shovel and help us make it safe for pedestrians around our City. Sidewalks must be cleared by Thursday at 3 PM! @Volalex is back supporting our ‘Snow Buddy’ program for those who need assistance or can assist.” [Twitter]

Beyer Criticizes Trump’s Lawyers — “Trump’s lawyers misspell “United States” right at the beginning and somehow it only gets worse and more amateurish from there.” [Twitter]

Governor Urges Virginians to Recognize Black History Month — “Virginia native Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded #BlackHistoryMonth in 1926 to help recognize the achievements and contributions of Black Americans. Black history is American history–this month, and every month, let’s continue working to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate it.” [Twitter]

Del. Levine Firearm Bill Passes House — “My Safe Capitol Bill just passed the House! The bill bans firearms in the Capitol, Capitol Square, and state government buildings. If you want to lobby us, use your voices. Threaten our re-election, not our safety. Guns have no place in the public square.” [Twitter]

Former Del. Krupicka Endorses Bennett-Parker for 45th District Seat — “As a former Council Member and a former Delegate for the 45th district, I know that local government experience in Richmond is crucial and that’s why I know Elizabeth will be the best candidate to serve the residents of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax. Her deep commitment to the environment and our public schools and students are traits that I know will make her an effective Delegate. We need her leadership in Richmond and I am proud to endorse her.” [Elizabethfordelegate.com]

ALIVE! Gets Donation From Scottish Group — “Mike Bible and Rick Cady, representing the Alexandria Scottish Rite, presented a check to Jennifer Ayers of ALIVE! in Alexandria, VA for $2,350 on January 19, 2021. This will help with providing food to the local Alexandria community.” [Twitter]

Former Mayor Euille Among Senior Services of Alexandria Award Honorees — “Senior Services of Alexandria is pleased to announce that it will honor three individuals who have made significant contributions to the Alexandria community through their work, activism and philanthropic efforts at its 2021 Virtual Annual Gala. They are Barbara Anderson; William D. Euille and C. Eugene Steuerle. A special honor will be given to Kate Garvey, Director of Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Services for her leadership of the City and non-profit agencies’ responses to the global pandemic.” [Zebra]

New Job: Police Crime Analyst — The Alexandria Police Department is looking for a Police Crime Analyst to join our team. You’ll play an important role in our investigations and operations. [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Winter Weather Advisory in Effect for Alexandria — “A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect through 9 am Tuesday with expectations of mixed precipitation and possible accumulations of 1-2 inches of snow and ice. Expect slippery roads. Be prepared, slow down, and use caution while traveling.” [Twitter]

More Contagious Coronavirus Variant Found in Northern Virginia — “The Virginia Department of Health said in a news release Monday that the B.1.1.7 variant was confirmed in a Northern Virginia adult resident who reported no recent travel. As of Jan. 22, VDH said almost 200 cases of the variant have been found in the U.S. in 23 states.” [Patch]

Beyer Calls Incoming Treasury Secretary ‘Crisis-Tested Trailblazer’ — “Warmest congratulations to @JanetYellen, the first woman to hold the office of Secretary of the Treasury, on her bipartisan confirmation. Secretary Yellen is the kind of experienced, crisis-tested leader the country needs overcome this historic economic crisis.” [Twitter]

Levine Bill Banning Guns in Polling Places Passes House of Delegates — “My Safe Elections Bill (HB2081), banning guns at polling places, vote counting centers, and recount centers, has passed the House! This bill protects both voters and election workers from intimidation. Those with guns don’t make the rules. Voters do. [Twitter]

School Board Considers Affordable Housing on School Property — “At a work session Thursday evening, school board members discussed at length whether school properties, specifically the Minnie Howard Campus of Alexandria’s high school, could be a good place to build affordable housing.” [Alexandria Living]

Former Del. Van Landingham Endorses Bennett-Parker for 45th District Seat — “Today, I’m incredibly honored to announce Marian Van Landingham’s endorsement. She served the 45th District for 24 years as a Delegate, and has been a champion for better schools, better childcare services, and for a thriving and inclusive Alexandria.” [Twitter]

ALIVE! Food Distribution is this Saturday — “On Sat, Jan 30, 8:30-10:30 am, @ALIVE4AlexVA will distribute food in Cora Kelly Elementary School parking lot (3600 Commonwealth Ave) and parking lot B-1 of NOVA-Alexandria Campus (via Dawes Ave; map at alive-inc.org).” [Twitter]

Casa Chirilagua Needs Volunteers — “VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Fill grocery bags at our food pantry every other Tuesday from 4 to 6 pm (changed from Monday mornings). Email [email protected] to join in!” [Facebook]

New Job: In-Person After School Tutor — “Our current after-school instructor opportunities are for students of financially challenged families that are in need of affordable academic assistance.” [Indeed]

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It was a short, but news-filled week in Alexandria.

With Monday off in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we started the week running with a COVID-19 update. Cases of COVID-19 in the city now stand at 8,975 and fatalities are at 99. That’s an increase of three deaths and 165 cases since Tuesday, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Our top story this week was a story that was published before election day in November, when residents with Joe Biden for president signs in their yards received anonymous letters stating that Biden is a pedophile.

Our second most-read story was the widely reported plans to close Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, brought worldwide attention to Alexandria’s neighboring jurisdiction of Washington D.C. for Biden’s inauguration, and while there were calls from members of the community for a 6 p.m. curfew, there were no reported incidents from protestors in Alexandria.

In fact, Alexandria Sheriff’s deputies and police officers helped during the inauguration by working with regional partners to shut down the 14th Street Bridge to traffic.

In case you missed them, here are a few important posts:

Here are our top stories of the week:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant Closing on Jan. 24
  3. New Boarding House Planned Over Old Town Barber Shop
  4. Man Charged With DWI After Horrific Crash in West End Parking Lot
  5. Contested Parker-Gray Townhouse Returns to City Tomorrow
  6. Police Chief: Many Recent Shootings in Alexandria Are Related
  7. Curfew Not Likely for Alexandria on Inauguration Day, No Known Threats Detected
  8. BREAKING: Woman Gets Arm Amputated, Police Investigate if She Was Thrown From Car in West End
  9. Vice Mayor Bennett-Parker Asks Alexandria Hotels to Cancel ‘Proud Boy’ Reservations
  10. Local Business in Hot Water with City Architects After Unauthorized Paint Job
  11. COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expanded, City Says Aggressive Calls to COVID-19 Hotline Not Tolerated

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via Atlantis Restaurant/Facebook

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What a week in Alexandria.

With the region still reeling from the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol, Alexandria Police are mobilized and prepared to respond to security threats in the run up to the inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20. At this time it is not likely that a 6 p.m. curfew will be imposed on the city.

On the coronavirus front, the death toll in Alexandria now stands at 94, and the number of cases is 8,448 as of today, according to the Virginia Department of Health. This week, Governor Ralph Northam expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 65 years of age and older, in addition to anyone 16 and older with preexisting conditions.

Northam was in town on Tuesday in a vaccination event for Alexandria City Public Schools staff, and many called the event a turning point against the virus.

ACPS also postponed its partial reopening on Jan. 19 due to the virus, and School Board member Margaret Lorber took heat from the community (and later apologized) for supporting a cautious reopening by asking in a board meeting whether parents wanted their children alive or educated.

There was also a COVID-19 outbreak at the office of the Alexandria Clerk of the Court, leaving just four out of 22 employees working at the office.

Below are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandria Police Ask ATF to Help Stem 49% Surge in Gunfire Incidents
  2. American Physical Therapy Association to Open Next Week at Potomac Yard
  3. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  4. St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub Opens in North Old Town
  5. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School Submits Plans for New Expansion
  6. Superintendent Says Reopening Plan Uncertain, School Board Member Lorber Takes Fire for Comments
  7. New Boarding House Planned Over Old Town Barber Shop
  8. Police Investigating Carjacking and Shooting
  9. Alexandria City Councilman Seifeldein Calls for Closure of Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
  10. Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker Announces Candidacy for 45th District Seat
  11. “Lipstick on a Pig” Heritage Development in Old Town Headed to Planning Commission

Have a safe weekend!

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Virginia Lieutenant Governor candidate Del. Mark Levine has joined legislators in calling for the resignation of Republican State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) over her involvement with the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol.

“She should resign,” Levine told ALXnow. “She is saying things that aren’t true and she’s inciting violence. She’s basically attacking the foundations of our democracy, and it really disappoints me because we work together. We had a good personal relationship. I’m just very disappointed in what she’s done.”

Chase attended the rally that preceded the riot but did not participate in the attack on the Capitol building.

Chase, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, is accused of committing insurrection by the Senate Democratic Caucus and faces multiple calls for her resignation. Her Facebook account was briefly shut down after she said publicly in a video that the incident at the Capitol was the fault of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protestors, a claim that has since been disproven.

Levine, 54, announced his intent to run for Lieutenant Governor last month, and if he loses the democratic primary says that he will run for reelection for the 45th District seat that he has held since 2015. His only opponent for the 45th is Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, who announced this week that she is running for the seat.

Levine said that Bennett-Parker did not call him about her entering the race for the 45th District.

“It’s not like the vice mayor called me and told me she was running. She didn’t,” Levine said. “I’m gonna run for lieutenant governor, because I think, frankly, what I’ve done for the 45th has been so positive that I think I can deliver for the entire state, the whole Commonwealth of Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax. But should I not prevail in the governor’s race, I think I’ve got a very good record to run for reelection as delegate, and obviously I hope to prevail.”

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Less than a week before the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden on Jan. 20, Alexandria’s Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker is asking hotels in the city to cancel reservations for the Proud Boys.

In a letter to the Holiday Inn Alexandria-Carlyle, Bennett-Parker said that it rented rooms to members of the Proud Boys before the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.

“It is my understanding that members of the Proud Boys, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, stayed at your hotel during their insurrection attempt earlier this month,” Bennett-Parker wrote. “These anti-democratic groups are inciting violence and must not be welcome in our city.”

On Jan. 4, a protest at the Holiday Inn was canceled for security concerns after a notification was posted on the pro-Trump site thedonald.win and a commenter said that if any Trump supporters arrived early to the hotel that “it’s time to give them a show of force.”

Bennett-Parker asked that Alexandria hotels cancel reservations with anyone associated with the group. The hotel is located one block from the Eisenhower Avenue Metro station, and reservations can be made online.

“There is another planned armed militia insurgence from January 17, 2021, through January 20, 2021,” she wrote. “Please join me in condemning these right-wing terrorists by denying them lodging at your hotel. Your actions will send a message that there is no place for hate in Alexandria. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.”

Photo via Grassroots Alexandria/Facebook

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