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Alexandria City Council Member Alyia Gaskins has more than doubled the campaign contributions raised by her opponent Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and triple the amount raised by former real estate developer Steven Peterson.

As of March 31, Gaskins raised $149,107 with $69,425 on-hand. Jackson has raised $59,984 and has $22,682 on-hand, while Peterson has raised $44,700 with $14,019 on-hand.

The April 15 quarterly campaign finance disclosure deadline follows a recent Alexandria Democratic Committee straw poll that Gaskins resoundingly won. The previous campaign disclosure report was on Dec. 31, and showed Gaskins with $46,000 and Jackson with nearly $17,000 in campaign funds.

Gaskins received 79 cash donations more than $100 totaling $72,775, five in-kind donations totaling $15,558, and 263 donations $100 or less totaling $15,280, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Gaskins’ top donor is Reginald James Brown, an attorney with Kirkland & Ellis, who donated $13,318 (and $20,500 since her 2021 campaign). Her number-two contributor is Brown’s wife, Tiffeny Sanchez, who gave the candidate $20,000. The Northern Virginia Labor Federation also gave her $10,000, and she received $1,000 for former Delegate Rob Krupicka, $500 from former City Council Member David Speck, as well as $200 from retired Sheriff Dana Lawhorne.

Jackson received 66 cash donations more than $100 totaling $21,946, 132 cash donations of $100 or less, and 20 in-kind contributions more than $100 totaling $5,206.

Jackson is the top donor of her campaign, donating $8,271, followed by her second-biggest contributor, her mother, Martha Bickford, who donated $5,516. Former State Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw gave Jackson $3,000, and other notable contributions include $1,500 from 2021 City Council candidate Bill Rossello, $849 from assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David Lord, and $437 from School Board Member Tammy Ignacio.

Peterson received 11 cash contributions more than $100 totaling $24,500, two contributions of $100 or less totaling $200 and one in-kind contribution of $20,000.

Peterson is also his own top donor, having given his campaign $30,000. His second-most contributor is Michael Srabek, who donated $10,000.

The City Council race

City Council Member John Taylor Chapman leads in fundraising so far in the Council primary, closely followed by Council Member Kirk McPike and with newcomer Jesse O’Connell having raised the third-most of the 12 candidates.

Chapman received his biggest donations from fibre space owner Danielle Romanetti ($5,000), and from NOVA Labor ($5,000). Reginald Brown also donated $2,500 to his campaign, and other notable contributors include $250 from Sheriff Sean Casey and former Alexandria Toyota manager John Taylor, who donated $2,000.

McPike’s top donors included NOVA Labor ($5,000), Reginald Brown for $2,500 and Tiffany Sanchez ($1,000). Sheriff Casey also contributed $250, and former City Council Member Del Pepper gave him $300.

The City Council Democrat and Republican primaries are on June 18. Election day is Nov. 5.

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Alexandria mayoral candidate Alyia Gaskins won the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s Straw Poll on Sunday night.

Gasksins defeated Vice Mayor Amy Jackson 117 votes to 23 votes, or 81% to Jackson’s 16%. A third mayoral candidate, Steven Peterson, did not show up for the event, and received 4 votes (3%).

City Council’s four incumbent members running for reelection also won, and so did two newcomers. The unofficial and unscientific contest is held before every Council primary at the Port City Brewing Company (3950 Wheeler Avenue).

“The results from the ADC straw poll show that a range of Democrats — some of who have been engaged in local politics for decades and others who are brand new — overwhelmingly agree that I’m the best candidate for mayor,” Gaskins said. “I’m excited to build on this momentum as I continue to spread my vision for a safer, more affordable, more accessible Alexandria.”

There are 11 Council candidates in the running in the June 18 primary for the six-seat Council, as well as three mayoral candidates.

Council Members John Taylor Chapman and Kirk McPike tied for the top spot among the City Council candidates. In the general election in November, the top vote-getter becomes the city’s vice mayor.

The Democrat and Republican primary is on June 18 and the general election is on Nov. 5.

The Results

  1. John Taylor Chapman 98 votes (68%)
  2. Kirk McPike — 98 votes (68%)
  3. Sarah Bagley — 93 votes (65%)
  4. Canek Aguirre — 81 votes (56%)
  5. James Lewis — 78 votes (54%)
  6. Jesse O’Connell — 77 votes (53%)
  7. Jacinta Greene — 75 votes (52%)
  8. Kevin Harris — 50 votes (35%)
  9. Abdel Elnoubi — 47 votes (33%)
  10. Jonathan Huskey — 18 votes (13%)
  11. Charlotte Scherer — 15 votes (10%)

The ADC Straw Poll got it right in 2021 by correctly predicting the mayoral and council members elected that November. But the poll is not always accurate. In 2018, former City Councilor Willie Bailey received the most votes but lost reelection. Former City Councilwoman Del Pepper, Jackson and former Council Member Mo Seifeldein didn’t make the unofficial cut either, still winning in the June primary and the November general election.

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The political season is officially underway in Alexandria, as the three Democrat candidates for mayor will face off in their first forum on Wednesday. There are also a number of forums and meet-and-greets scheduled for the 11 Democrat City Council candidates and lone Republican candidate.

The Democratic and Republican primaries for City Council are on June 18.

The Del Ray Citizens Association will host the first event for its members via Zoom at 7 p.m. with the three mayoral candidates — Vice Mayor Amy Jackson, City Council Member Alyia Gaskins and former real estate developer Steven Peterson.

The event will run until 8:30 p.m.

The current list forums is below.

April 10 at 7 p.m. — Online Del Ray Citizens Association mayoral forum (members only)

April 15 at 6 p.m.Mayoral and Council candidate forum at Lost Dog Cafe in Old Town (808 N. Henry Street) hosted by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the Alexandria Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee

April 17 at 7 p.m. —  Alpha Kappa Alpha and the League of Women Voters will host a mayoral forum via Zoom

April 24 at 6 p.m. — The Federation of Civic Associations will host a candidate forum at Alexandria Police Department headquarters (3600 Wheeler Avenue)

April 25 at 7 p.m. — The Alexandria NAACP mayoral debate. Location to be determined

May 2 at 6 p.m. — Tenants and Workers United and Grassroots Alexandria will host a candidate forum at 3801 Mount Vernon Avenue

May 7 at 7 p.m. — The PTA Council of Alexandria will conduct a candidate forum in the Alexandria City High School cafeteria (3330 King Street)

May 9 at 7 p.m. — Alexandria NAACP debate with council candidates. Location to be determined

May 11 at 7 p.m.VOICE candidates forum at Third Baptist Church of Alexandria (917 Prince Street)

May 13 at 6 p.m. — Del Ray Business Association candidate forum. Location to be determined

May 15 — North Ridge Citizens Association mayoral forum. Location to be determined

May 15 at 7 p.m. — The Lynhaven and Hume Springs Civic Association will conduct an in-person and Zoom mayoral forum at the Leonard “Chick“ Armstrong Recreation Center (25 W. Reed Avenue)

June 4 — The Chamber ALX mayoral debate will be held “in the evening” at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial

June 8 at 10 a.m. — The West End Business Association will hold a mayoral forum at Taqueria Picoso (1472 N. Beauregard Street)

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With Thursday’s filing deadline, Alexandria’s slate of mayoral and City Council candidates is officially set.

Here’s who’s running for office in the June 18 primary, according to the city’s Office of Voter Registration & Elections.

Three Democratic mayoral candidates are vying to fill the seat being vacated by outgoing two-term Mayor Justin Wilson.

Those candidates are:

There are 11 Democrat candidates and one Republican candidate, Celianna Gunderson, running for the six-seat City Council. Gunderson is running unopposed in the Republican primary and will likely be on the ballot in November, while only the top six Democrats will move forward after June 18.

Independent and Republican candidates can still file until June 18.

The City Council candidates are:

Early voting for the Democratic and Republican primaries begins on May 3. Primary polls will close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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Alexandria City Council members and candidates are opening up about their positions on the city backing out of the Potomac Yard arena deal.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the city will be spending a lot of time unpacking what led to the announcement that it was backing out of a plan to move the Washington Wizards and Capitals from D.C. to a new arena with an entertainment district in the city’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.

The deal is now a historic defeat, joining the failed attempt in the 1990s to build a stadium for the Washington Redskins (now Washington Commanders) at Potomac Yard.

“We’ll spend some time unpacking all of this,” Wilson told ALXnow. “But in the end, this proposal got caught up in some powerful politics in Richmond. Now, as a result of those very same politics, some very significant priorities of Alexandria are very vulnerable in Richmond. That’s a shame.”

Wilson said those components of the state budget include funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, education and public safety. Wilson was enthusiastic about the deal since it was announced Dec. 13, remaining steadfast in his support of its economic potential until yesterday’s announcement. Wilson is currently vacationing with his family and has been responding to the situation from Greece.

“Gun legislation has already been vetoed, and I imagine many, many vetoes to go,” Wilson said.

All of City Council sat on stage alongside Wilson, Governor Glenn Youngkin and Monumental Sports & Entertainment owner Ted Leonsis at the surprise announcement on Dec. 13 in Potomac Yard. Youngkin characterized the move as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, wanting the arena to open next door to the Potomac Yard Metro station in 2028.

The $2 billion project stalled in the Democrat-controlled Virginia State Senate, held up by Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Louise Lucas, who refused to include it in the state budget. This week, Lucas said that Leonsis could pay for the entire project himself instead of relying on $1.5 billion in bond financing from Virginia taxpayers.

Former Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg joined the Coalition to Stop the Arena at Potomac Yard in Richmond to protest the move during the General Assembly’s session earlier this month. She said that the city backing out of the deal was a great relief.

“The financial risks were terrible for the Commonwealth and our city, as well as the traffic impacts that would have overwhelmed our city over 275 nights a year,” Silberberg said. “I hope the city will now focus its economic development vision on more compatible uses for this property. As I have said often since 2018, I envision a tech corridor with the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus as the anchor and catalyst in addition to mixed use development.”

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Alexandria’s annual George Washington Birthday Parade brought the usual pomp and circumstance befitting the country’s first president.

This year’s parade marshals were the recipients of the prestigious Living Legends of Alexandria award. The theme of this year’s parade was “George Washington: Alexandria’s Living Legend.”

A number of political candidates marched (or rode) in the parade, including mayoral candidates Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and Alyia Gaskins, as well as Sheriff Sean Casey and Clerk of Court Greg Parks. City Manager Jim Parajon also marched, as did his counterpart in the school system, Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt. Former Mayor Allison Silberberg also marched in the parade with the “Coalition to Stop the Potomac Yard Arena.”

Alexandria’s next parade is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Town on Saturday, March 2.

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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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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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Tim Beaty and Gina Baum, the candidates in the Alexandria School Board’s Jan. 9 special election for the open District A seat (staff photos by James Cullum)

There’s less than a week to go until the Jan. 9 special election for Alexandria’s open District A School Board seat, and things are getting interesting.

With a focus on helping Alexandria City Public Schools craft a collective bargaining agreement with staff, retired labor leader Tim Beaty has secured key endorsements from the two other School Board Members in District A — Board Chair Michelle Rief and Jacinta Greene, as well as from City Council Members Canek Aguirre and Kirk McPike, Sheriff Sean Casey, NOVA Labor and the Education Association of Alexandria teachers union.

His opponent Gina Baum, a former longtime member of the city’s Park and Recreation Commission has positioned herself as a candidate willing to fight with her colleagues on the dais and to ask City Council to pony up millions to restore step increases to teachers.

The candidates have had a few notable public appearances since the seat opened up in November. In a Liberally Social podcast moderated by Alexandria Democratic Committee Chair Sandy Marks on Dec. 26, Baum expressed concern over a perceived lack of public discourse between the Board and the public, and questioned whether School Board Members are operating within their guidelines by when going into closed session during meetings. They also spoke Tuesday at an Alexandria Democratic Committee meeting, and last night in an Alexandria PTA Council forum.

“I think one of the oddities with this board as opposed to some of the other boards I’ve served on in the city is that we on other boards actually fight with each other,” Baum said on the podcast.  “I’m finding with this board for whatever reason, there seems to be a lack of open public discourse in our community, I believe feels like that, that they’re hiding things from us, right and they’re not being transparent. “

Beaty, on the other hand, positioned himself as a Spanish-speaking bridge-builder who wants to improve relations with non-English speaking families within the school system.

“I think we have to help parents understand what their kids are going through,” Beaty said. “I think I can I can be part of a link to do that.”

Beaty’s been a substitute teacher at two ACPS elementary schools for the last two years, and was previously global strategies director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He says that he has 40 years of collective bargaining experience and that a good agreement will result in staff retention.

“My experience throughout my life is that a strong relationship between labor and management does a lot of good for the efficiency of any institution where it exists,” he said in the podcast. I think it’s important that we recognize our teachers by letting them form a union, by encouraging them to form a union and to encourage this process of collective bargaining, leading to a contract. I think it’ll attract it’ll help maintain our current staff.”

Baum is a managing broker with Keller Williams Metro Center. She has not been endorsed by any groups, but has gotten the endorsement of a number of individuals, including former Mayor Bill Euille, and one current public official — City Council Member John Taylor Chapman. If elected, Baum said she would get the support of her colleagues to ask City Council to find upward of $8 million to solve a staffing crisis by restoring step increases for teachers.

“I would suggest that (ACPS Superintendent) Dr. Kay-Wyatt and the School Board write to Council and say, ‘We need this amount of money because we have to restore teacher’s steps,'” Baum said on the podcast. “They deserve their salary increases. They deserve the cost of living increases, and it’s a political year. All of our council members are going to be running a campaign. We have the campaign for the mayor happening. I think if we go to them and say this is for our teachers, they will, in fact, find the money.”

Baum said that the proposal is procedurally possible, drawing criticism one Council expert, who called it a “fairy tale.”

“Sure, it’s possible,” said the source, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. “I mean, anything is procedurally possible. The reality is a completely different thing. All you have to do is look at the budget right now, and that the school system had to take $50 million out of the Capital Improvement Program budget. How are we going to find the $8 million for teachers? Don’t get me wrong, it’s an admirable thing to do, but you don’t just find money out of the blue and do this overnight. Where you realistically find it is within the collective bargaining process.”

ACPS approved funds to develop an official ACPS plan and policy for collective bargaining with employees in the current budget.

The District A seat became available when School Board Member Willie Bailey abruptly resigned, prompting the Alexandria Circuit Court to order the special election for Jan. 9. The winner will serve out the remaining 11 months of Bailey’s term before the next School Board is sworn into office in January 2025. It also means that the seat, along with the eight other school board seats, is up for grabs in the Nov. 5 general election.

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