The race for the 45th District House of Delegates seat is a weird one.
Delegate Mark Levine announced in December that he would be running for Lieutenant Governor. A month later, Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker announced that she would be running for Levine’s delegate seat. The wrinkle in all of this, however, is that Levine is also running for reelection in the 45th district as a precaution in case he doesn’t win the fairly crowded Lieutenant Governor primary.
He’s not alone in this — running for two seats is legal in Virginia — but it leaves the 45th district in an awkward Schrödinger’s cat-type race where Bennett-Parker is simultaneously running and not running against Levine.
“It’s a weird situation,” Levine admitted. “I never expected this to happen. [But] it’s legal under Virginia law. I think I’ve been a good delegate and the people should re-elect me. If I win both, I’ll resign from the 45th district and there will be a special election.”
(The 45th District itself is a bit odd, encompassing some of the residential neighborhoods around Pentagon City to the north; Shirlington and Fairlington to the west; Del Ray, Potomac Yard and Old Town Alexandria in the center; and a narrow corner of Fairfax County to the south.)
While much of Levine’s campaign finance has been focused on the statewide race, in the 45th District Bennett-Parker has raised twice as much as Levine’s campaign for delegate.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Bennett-Parker has raised $106,434 to Levine’s $45,573 — though Levine has raised $705,284 in the lieutenant governor race. Bennett-Parker’s top donors include attorney and Democratic financier Sonjia Smith, Levine’s 2015 opponent Julie Jakopic, and Alexandria School Board member Veronica Nolan.
Levine, a former radio talk show host, was elected in 2015 and campaigned for stricter gun control regulations and expanding healthcare access, among other progressive goals. Levine, like many Democrats in the state legislature, has found it easier to make good on those campaign promises after Democrats took the majority in 2019.
“This year, the predominant gun regulations have been my bills and in all state-owned buildings and offices and polling places,” Levine said. “Introduced 47 bills and passed half of them… and it wasn’t my bill on marijuana legalization that passed, but I led the way.”
Bennett-Parker, co-director of the nonprofit Together We Bake, was elected to the Alexandria City Council in 2019 and said her experience working in local government would bring a unique perspective to the state legislature.
“First, having served as Vice Mayor, I understand the nuance of the role that local government plays in people’s lives and how the state is often an impediment to localities in serving their residents,” Bennett-Parker said. “Currently there are only 18 Delegates out of 100 who have served in city or county government and none of them are from Northern Virginia. Obviously, we face different issues than other parts of the Commonwealth. I hear from constituents all the time who want the City Council to do things that we can’t do because we don’t have the authority.”
Bennett-Parker also noted that she would be the minority in a government body that is still 70% male.
“Women have for too long been held back by governmental policies and programs designed by men,” Bennett-Parker said.
Together We Bake is an Alexandria-based workforce training program that helps women exiting the criminal justice system, experiencing homelessness, recovering from abuse or addiction, or facing unemployment.
Bennett-Parker has been reluctant to criticize Levine openly, saying instead that she aims to focus on campaign goals.
“When I decided to run, this race looked like it would be an open seat, as Delegate Levine had announced he was running for Lieutenant Governor,” Bennett-Parker said. “I am focused solely on this district and serving its residents. I have delivered results for the 45th district as Vice Mayor and on regional bodies, and I will keep doing so in Richmond.”
Levine, in contrast, has no qualms about saying that he doesn’t think Bennett-Parker is the right candidate to replace him as the 45th District delegate.
“No, I don’t think so,” Levine said when asked if he thought Bennett-Parker would make a good replacement.
Levine said that part of his role as delegate has been taking an active role in community meetings and discussions, something he says he hasn’t seen from Bennett-Parker.
“I absolutely have not neglected my community,” Levine said. “We had a shooting in Old Town on Monday night. I was at a community meeting with Police Chief Michael Brown. [Bennett-Parker] wasn’t there. It was a room full of concerned constituents and she wasn’t there… I was out at a COVID memorial. I was there. [Mayor Justin] Wilson was there. [City Council member Mo] Seifeldein and [City Council member Canek] Aguirre were there. You know who wasn’t there? Elizabeth Bennet-Parker. I’m more active in the community every day and I don’t see her.”
Some of Levine’s peers have disagreed with his assessment, however, with Bennett-Parker winning endorsements from state Senator Adam Ebbin and former delegates Marian Van Landingham and Rob Krupicka, among others.
For both Levine and Bennett-Parker, expanding healthcare and combatting the effects of climate change are two of the major priorities ahead for the state legislature.
“In terms of fights ahead: healthcare is the big one,” Levine said. “We need affordable healthcare. I think healthcare needs to be more transparent and we need to make sure people aren’t being bankrupted by healthcare costs.”
Bennett-Parker said the state should take the momentum from expanding Medicaid and keep moving forward.
“Expanding access to affordable health care,” Bennett-Parker said, when asked about her top priorities. “Expanding Medicaid was an important step in the right direction, but we need to do more to make healthcare, including mental healthcare, more accessible and affordable for all Virginians. We also need to find a way to lower prescription drug prices, especially for seniors.”
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.
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.”
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]
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]
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.
We’re not going to take this anymore. Get your popcorn folks and tune into the Senate tomorrow. I have a few surprises of my own. https://t.co/TxZTdYkwG3
— Senator Amanda Chase (@AmandaChaseVA) January 14, 2021
Amanda Chase encouraged the Trump-led deadly insurrection against the United States. She is a stain on our Commonwealth. pic.twitter.com/kurtHYwlfe
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) January 14, 2021
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.”
A political newcomer going into her election as vice mayor three years ago, Bennett-Parker said she is running to improve the environment and help area families struggling with the pandemic. A Democrat, she is the first person to announce a run for the seat.
“I am excited to announce my candidacy for the Virginia House of Delegates today,” Bennett-Parker announced Tuesday morning. “I want to be a part of the solution by ensuring all Northern Virginians have access to good jobs with worker protections, helping small businesses thrive, making sure families have access to quality care and education for their children from early childhood onwards, and taking urgent action to protect our environment and build an infrastructure to respond to climate change.”
Mayor Justin Wilson said he was disappointed to lose Bennett-Parker. There are now two open seats for city council, as longtime Council member Del Pepper recently announced her retirement.
“I am disappointed to lose Elizabeth’s leadership on City Council, but I wish her well in her next pursuit,” Wilson told ALXnow. “Every three years, the voters of our City have the opportunity to shape the future of our community. I am confident that we will have an experienced and qualified crop of candidates offering themselves in service to our community.”
Bennett-Parker grew up in Alexandria and lives with her husband and grandmother in the city’s Rosemont neighborhood, is also the co-director of the nonprofit Together We Bake.
“As the caregiver for my grandmother during this pandemic, I also know firsthand the challenges so many around Northern Virginia have been facing when it comes to caring for our seniors,” she said. “Families, workers, educators, and students continue to struggle with the pandemic’s impact, and they deserve an advocate in Richmond.”
Bennett-Parker has not been an outspoken member of council, and is known for heavily researching topics before coming to decisions. A Fulbright Fellow, she has a Master’s degree in anthropology from the University of London and a history degree from Cornell University.
The primary for the race is on June 8, and election day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.
I’m excited to announce I am running for delegate in the 45th district! Visit https://t.co/7sGYtbKgIt to find out how you can get involved, sign up to volunteer, and become one of our founding donors! pic.twitter.com/wsFwxwWW3e
— Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (@EBP4Delegate) January 12, 2021
It’s been a hell of a morning Del. Mark Levine.
News broke this morning that Levine, a Democrat from Alexandria, is now one of 12 candidates who have thrown their name into the Lieutenant Governor race and one of eight Democrats. Since then, Levine says the morning has been one of non-stop phone calls.
“I’m excited,” Levine said. “It’s a firehose and I’m starting to drink the water.”
Levine said part of his goal is to transform the role into a full-time position rather than the part-time, back-up position it currently occupies.
Levine touted his history of working for Barney Frank, the fight to put his brother-in-law behind bars after his sister’s murder, and his history of pushing for LGBT rights. If elected, Levine would be the first openly gay statewide elected official. It’s a series of accomplishments that were at the forefront of Levine’s campaign for the House of Delegates in 2015, but this year some of the attention is shifting towards work done over the last year now that the Democrats control the legislature.
“I’ve introduced 47 bills; 23 became law: some in my name and some in colleagues’ names,” Levine said. “A number of my bills were incorporated into other bills.”
Levine’s website has a 20-page summary of progress made on bills during the 2020 legislative sessions and a few areas where Levine hit stumbling blocks. Of those, Levine said one of the ones he’s most proud of is the “most comprehensive LGBT rights bill in Virginia” that Levine said added sexual orientation and gender to non-discrimination statutes. Another required voter-verified paper ballots.
One of the bills that failed was one that would allow localities to fund law libraries — a longtime priority for Alexandria — and one that would make it easier for non-clergy to perform marriage ceremonies.
Levine has been an outspoken Democrat, particularly on gun control issues — though Levine said he prefers to call it gun violence prevention. Earlier this year, an armed protester stood outside Levine’s house to protest Levine’s position.
“The people who disagree with me are passionate, but they aren’t the majority of Virginia,” Levine said. “I’m not trying to ban guns. [Gun owners should] have background checks and should be trained. So I think some of my stances have been overstated, frankly, but I think reasonable people will support me, including reasonable gun owners, because I think reasonable gun owners don’t mind background checks. The people who believe every child should have a bazooka, no, they’re not going to support my campaign.”
Levine said if he does not win the Lt. Governor race primary this summer, he intents to run for reelection as a Delegate later that year.
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.
Photos via courtesy Eli Wilson Photography
Levine Says Murder Suspect Should Have Stayed Behind Bars — “Simply put, I think the judge made a tragically wrong decision here.” [Blue Virginia]
Lynching Victim Honored in Old Town — “121 years to the day after a mob lynched young Benjamin Thomas, the successor of the Mayor who made a half-hearted plea for due process and the successor of the “City Sergeant” (@AlexVASheriff) who failed to project Benjamin, stood at the corner and laid wreaths in his memory.” [Twitter]
Eviction Proceedings Halted Until Next Month — “On August 7, Governor Ralph S. Northam (D-VA) announced that starting Monday, August 10, a statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings will go into effect. The moratorium, which passed by a 4-to-3 vote, runs through September 7.” [Zebra]
School Board Approves Virtual Learning This Fall — “Students, unlike during the spring semester, will be graded on finished work. They will also receive simultaneous lessons in subjects, as if they were in the classroom.” [Zebra]
ACPS Kicks Off ‘Kindergarten Prep’ — “ACPS is adjusting the format of the traditional Kindergarten Prep summer session in response to the current pandemic.”
Del Ray Company Donates Soap to Casa Chirilagua — “We are so grateful to Truly-Life Eco Gifts for donating 200 bars of handmade soap to Casa Chirilagua — even during these challenging times, our small businesses are so generous!” [Facebook]
Today’s Weather — “Mostly clear. High, 92F, Low 73F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Automotive Finance Manager — “BMW of Alexandria has an opportunity for a motivated, hard-working, enthusiastic Finance Manager to join our team.” [Indeed]