History was made this week in Alexandria.

Our top story was on Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday, defeating former Mayor Allison Silberberg. Alexandria historically votes for democratic mayors, and Wilson faces off against Republican candidate Annetta Catchings in November.

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker also unseated Del. Mark Levine for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 45th District seat in the House of Delegates. Levine also lost his bid for lieutenant governor.

The three incumbents running for City Council all made it through the primary, with City Councilman John Taylor Chapman receiving the most votes. The other candidates who made it, and will move on to the general election in November are Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins, Councilwoman Amy Jackson, Councilman Canek Aguirre, Sarah Bagley and Kirk McPike.

This Saturday is will also see the final graduating class of T.C. Williams High School walk the stage before the school’s name is changed in July to Alexandria City High School.

Next Sunday is also Father’s Day, and a number of Alexandria businesses are offering unique specials.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. BREAKING: Wilson wins Democratic mayoral primary, Silberberg concedes
  2. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown puts in his notice
  3. A rare glimpse inside Alexandria’s abandoned and overgrown GenOn power plant
  4. BREAKING: Bennett-Parker declares victory in 45th District race, Levine loses Delegate and Lieutenant Governor races
  5. Pride flags torn down outside City Hall and thrown into fountain at Market Square
  6. Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown isn’t just retiring, he’s leaving the city altogether
  7. BREAKING: Incumbents hold on in Alexandria City Council Democratic primary
  8. Three incumbents and lots of newcomers running for Alexandria School Board this November
  9. Here’s how much it would cost to reverse the Seminary Road Diet
  10. Democratic primary settled in Alexandria, but underlying issues linger
  11. Critical Missing Person Alert issued for 13-year-old autistic boy

Have a safe weekend!

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Last night was a rout for a vocal contingent of Alexandrians pushing for a change in city leadership, but both top dogs in the local Democratic party and their opposition say the fight isn’t over.

At Los Tios Grill in Del Ray, former Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg told enthusiastic supporters that conversations over issues like the Seminary Road Diet and Taylor Run Stream restoration project would continue, although the candidates who put those issues at the forefronts of their campaigns lost.

Silberberg said that her supporters should join boards and commissions and join their civic associations, continue speaking out and working on changing the city from within.

“This is a democracy,” Silberberg said. “All voices need to be heard. I remain dedicated to those causes and getting things done, and I encourage people to stay involved.”

On the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook group, a page that had been a social gathering place for locals frustrated with city leadership, the reaction was dour, with members calling the results “depressing” or blaming the outcome on outside influences in local politics.

In terms of voting precincts, Silberberg won City Hall and a handful of the more residential areas in the center of the city, like around Seminary Hill, but Wilson won the more densely urban West End, Old Town, and Del Ray.

The election saw 23% of registered voters show up to the polls — a relatively high voter turnout rate for a non-Presidential election year.

Clarence Tong, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, said the high number of candidates — 13 candidates in the Democratic primary for six seats — was likely one of the reasons for the high turnout, and that last night’s results were an endorsement for the leadership of Wilson and the incumbent City Council.

“Yesterday we experienced high primary turnout in Alexandria. this was a reflection of the high quality of the democratic statewide and local candidates on the ballot, likely the largest number in our history,” Tong said. “The great thing about the Democratic Party is the broad range of experiences and perspective from our candidates.”

Tong said that many of the issues debated during the campaign will likely continue to be debated after the election.

“I would fully expect the policy issues that were debated during the Council primary to continue in other public forums,” he said.

Photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook

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Morning Notes

McAuliffe, Ayala, Herring win statewide Democratic primary — “Former Virginia governor and longtime fixture as a national Democratic Party leader Terry McAuliffe won the state’s Democratic nomination for a second term as governor in Tuesday’s primary election, the Associated Press reported at 7:44 p.m. In the two other statewide races, the lieutenant governor’s contest was called by AP for Del. Hala Ayala. In the attorney general race, Del. Jay Jones conceded to incumbent Mark Herring.” [Patch]

Council candidates pose after Democratic primary — “Congratulations to our 2021 Democratic nominees for Alexandria Mayor (Justin Wilson) and City Council (John Chapman, Alyia Gaskins, Amy Jackson, Canek Aguirre, Sarah Bagley, and Kirk McPike), and the 45th House District (Elizabeth Bennett Parker)! Onward to November!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Health Department expands clinic partnerships and locations — “In recent weeks, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) has expanded vaccine clinic partnerships and locations. In Alexandria and the region, mass vaccination events have slowed significantly over the past month. In response, AHD has focused on targeting outreach in communities where vaccination rates are lower and partnering with organizations to reach priority populations.” [City of Alexandria]

Made in ALX hosting first art show and sale — “Saturday, June 26, join a group of Alexandria artists on the patio behind ALX Community (near the gazebo between the Torpedo Factory and The Blackwall Hitch) to see new pieces and pick up something unique for your home!” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 88F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Overcast. Low 71F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Front desk assistant — “Dogtopia, the industry leader in dog daycare, boarding, and spa services has an immediate opening for an energetic, organized, sales and solution-minded individual to join our team as our Sales Receptionist.” [Indeed]

Photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook

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(Updated at 12 p.m.) After months of debating, campaigning and posting, the Democratic primary in Alexandria is finally here.

Polls across Alexandria are open today until 7 p.m., and anyone in line by then will be permitted to vote.

According to the city website, all voters are required to bring a form of identification at the polls or sign an ID confirmation statement. Anyone who doesn’t bring an ID or sign a confirmation statement will be offered a provisional ballot.

A full list of voting precincts is available on the city website.

In addition to the statewide Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General races, Alexandrians will be voting in a competitive Mayoral and City Council race. Residents of the 45th District will also vote between incumbent Mark Levine and current Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.

The mayoral race is a rematch between incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson and former Mayor Allison Silberberg, whom Wilson ousted three years ago.

“I’m feeling great,” Silberberg said. “We’ve got a huge precinct operation and we’re hearing from people across the city. It’s thrilling and we’re running right through the tape. People can vote until 7 p.m. Every vote will matter.”

“This has been an exciting election season that has allowed our community to have an intense discussion about our City’s future,” Wilson said. “I hope to earn the support of our City for another term as Alexandria’s Mayor.”

So far, more than 6,100 residents have voted absentee — about three times as much as in the 2018 Democratic primary (2,007 absentee votes) and a 255% jump over the 2017 Democratic primary (1,687 absentee votes). The absentee numbers will continue to increase, and as long as they have a postmark dated June 8 will be counted along with the other ballots before their official certification by the Alexandria Electoral Board on Monday, June 14.

That means that the unofficial election results could change depending on the final absentee numbers. As of 10 a.m. there were 4,018 in-person votes cast —  totaling 10,123 with absentee votes — out of 98,728 registered voters in the city. That’s about 10%.

The registrar’s office is anticipating turnout in the 20% to 30% range, and as of 10 a.m. the top performing precincts are Mount Vernon Recreation Center with 615 total votes, George Washington Middle School with 591 votes and the George Washington National Masonic Memorial with 540 votes..

After polls close, both candidates will host their respective results parties at Del Ray restaurants within a stone’s throw of each other. Wilson said his campaign will be gathering at Pork Barrel BBQ (2312 Mount Vernon Avenue) and Silberberg will be at Los Tios Grill (2615 Mount Vernon Avenue), in another mirror to the 2018 election.

Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, who is running against Del. Mark Levine for the 45th District seat in the House of Delegates, voted at around 6:30 a.m. at Matthew Maury Elementary School. She said that she didn’t sleep the night before out of nervous anticipation.

“I think we ran as hard a campaign as we could have,” Bennett-Parker said after voting. “We’ve knocked on almost 12,000 doors, we’ve sent mail and communicated with voters in a lot of different ways. I don’t think there’s anything at this point that I could have done differently.”

There are 13 candidates in the Democratic primary for six City Council seats. With only three incumbents running for reelection, at least half the City Council is guaranteed to be new starting next year. The top six vote-getters will face off against Independent candidate Florence King and Republican Darryl Nirenberg in November.

City Councilman John Taylor Chapman, while carrying his young son, voted shortly after polls opened at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. It was his third Democratic primary as a candidate. Chapman said he plans to watch the results at ALX Community (201 N Union Street) in Old Town.

“There is always a little bit of nervousness,” Chapman said after voting. “Our team has worked hard to reach as many Alexandrians as possible, talk to them about the issues and our platform, and we’ve hit close to 20,000 doors and sent mailers to more than 30,000 folks… I think elections are the concrete reminder that they are the way the community gets what it wants.”

Candidates Alyia Gaskins, Councilman Canek Aguirre, Sarah Bagley and Kirk McPike also spent the morning outside the Mount Vernon Recreation Center precinct.

James Cullum contributed to this story

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What a week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on President Joe Biden stopping by the Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria last Friday with First Lady Jill Biden and Governor Ralph Northam.

Seeing the president around town is getting to be a regular thing. The president, who also visited in April, discussed “the state’s progress against the coronavirus pandemic” and the celebration of “summer as Virginia lifts all COVID-19 distancing and capacity restrictions.”

This week, we also followed up on a New York Times report about the Virginia Theological Seminary making reparations payments to slavery descendants. The program was launched in 2019, and the school issued $2,100 in annual payments to 15 families in February.

On Wednesday, the Fire Department released its restructuring plan, which goes into effect June 12, and is intended to help emergency response times by shifting resources. AFD will conduct community conversations on the restructuring on Saturday, June 5, at 10 a.m.; Monday, June 7, at 2 p.m. and Thursday, June 10, at 7 p.m.

Closing the short workweek, on Friday Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown announced that his retirement. Brown’s last day is June 25, and the City Manager is soon expected to name an acting chief to lead the department while the city’s undergoes a national search for a permanent replacement.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. UPDATED: President Biden and Gov. Northam visited Alexandria this morning
  2. JUST IN: Virginia State Police chase U-Haul pickup truck through Alexandria
  3. Bennett-Parker says Levine mailer on Commonwealth of Virginia letterhead is ethics breach
  4. Goodie’s Frozen Custard & Treats opens in Old Town
  5. Hank & Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen closes for the foreseeable future in Old Town North
  6. Volunteers needed this weekend to help clear dangerous stretch of Mount Vernon Trail
  7. Wilson and Silberberg mayoral debate finale opens possibility of ‘tweaking’ Seminary Road Diet
  8. Homegrown Restaurant Group gives employees raise to $15 an hour, will ease COVID restrictions at 6 restaurants
  9. ‘Rock It Grill’ eyeing karaoke expansion, bringing back Halloween party
  10. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  11. Ownership of Landmark’s streets could make a big difference down the road

Photo via White House/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Biden Wins Virginia — “Virginia voters have overwhelmingly given former Vice President Joe Biden a sizable win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election. According to unofficial state election returns, Biden has been called the winner of the state with 53.3 percent of what was a record primary turnout, and will capture the largest share of its 99 delegates.” [Patch, Washington Post]

City Holding Coronavirus Info Session — “The City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Health Department, Inova Health System, and the Alexandria City Public Schools will hold an online virtual information session on Thursday, March 12, from 8 to 9 p.m., to provide information and answer questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The session will be accessible at alexandriava.gov/Health.” [City of Alexandria, Alexandria Living]

North Old Town Quickly Developing — “Old Town North has been witnessing metamorphic change evolving before our eyes over the last two decades. Residential and mixed-use developments, including rental apartments, townhouses, condos, and retail spaces scattered throughout. Among notable additions are the Harris Teeter at The Kingsley, the Gables Old Town North with apartments, restaurants and retail built on the old Giant/ABC Store site. Redevelopment of the abandoned Bus Barn site has just commenced.” [Zebra]

Nearby: Redevelopment Floated for Shopping Center — “One developer is proposing putting 900 apartments where the Belle View Shopping Center — recently ravaged by a fire — now stands.” [Alexandria Living, Covering the Corridor]

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Morning Notes

Presidential Primary Day in Alexandria — Today is Super Tuesday, the presidential primary day in Virginia and 13 other states across the U.S. Here in Alexandria, polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. [City of Alexandria]

New Development Near Braddock Road Metro — “CRC Cos. LLC is pitching a plan to redevelop several single-family homes across from the Braddock Road Metro station into a new mixed-use building. The Arlington-based real estate firm submitted plans to Alexandria officials last week for a seven-story, 177-unit building along North West Street, bounded by Madison Street and Wythe Street. The proposal also calls for a small space set aside for ground-floor retail.” [Washington Business Journal]

Meeting Planned for Tot Lot Renovations — Alexandria’s parks department “will renovate Woodbine Tot Lot  in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation mid-March through mid-April. A community pre-construction meeting with City staff and the contractor is scheduled for Saturday, March 7 at 10 a.m. at Woodbine Tot Lot (1509 Woodbine St.). Make-A-Wish Foundation America approached the City of Alexandria with a wish from Whitaker, a local four-year-old undergoing cancer treatment.” [City of Alexandria]

A Tale of Two Kindnesses — A man who stopped to help a family in need in Alexandria was, soon thereafter, helped by the same family when it turned out that he was in need of assistance, too. [Alexandria Living]

Trampoline Park Opens in West End — “Get Air, an indoor trampoline park with a variety of activities, has opened at 340 South Pickett Street in Alexandria. The venue has thousands of square feet of trampolines, including vertical trampolines, a trampoline dodgeball area, trampoline lanes for slamball, tightrope walking challenge, and a foam pit.” [Patch, Alexandria Living]

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Morning Notes

Schools Preparing for Coronavirus — “ACPS has partnered with the Alexandria City Health Department and local first responders to form a COVID-19 Task Force Planning Committee to work closely to monitor this evolving situation. We plan to provide updates as we progress with this planning and work.” [ACPS]

Reminder: Primary Day is Tomorrow — “On Tuesday, March 3, there will be a Democratic Party presidential primary election in the City of Alexandria. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]

Business Robbed in Old Town on Sunday — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a commercial robbery in the 800 block of South Washington Street. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Kaine Campaigning for Biden Today — Sen. Tim Kaine is scheduled to help Joe Biden’s re-energized presidential campaign phone bank at its Eisenhower Avenue office this afternoon.

Resident: Parking Is Too Sparse in Old Town — “Personally, I have consciously put off or cancelled Old Town plans several times because the parking crisis made visiting a business or meeting up with friends impossible with my own vehicle. I believe our city planners should consider building a public parking deck or similar facility somewhere in the neighborhood in order to alleviate the impossibly high demand on our limited parking situation.” [Gazette Packet]

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