What an unexpectedly busy summer week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.
Our top story was on an Alexandria woman who claims she was roofied at a restaurant on the waterfront on the evening of July 9. A police report has been filed, and no charges have been made.
This week we sat down with acting Police Chief Don Hayes, who said that he’s thrown his hat in the ring with City Manager Mark Jinks to keep the top job. Hayes, a 40-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department took over after the sudden departure of Chief Michael Brown last month, and will have to contend against candidates in a national search.
The Tokyo Olympics also start this week, and the games will include three T.C. Williams High School graduates — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley. In fact, Lyles just had a comic book biography published in the Washington Post. If you’re a fan of the Olympic games, check out this list of local restaurants celebrating with special events and meals.
- Pot enthusiasts quiet in early days of legalization in Alexandria
- Alexandria sees 90 COVID cases in July, another death
- Local historians profile former slave in Alexandria who struggled to rescue his family
- Alexandria man caught with gun at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport checkpoint
- New Potomac Yard luxury condo community sells 30% of properties before construction starts
- Testing for Alexandria’s controversial stream restoration work starts next week
- Two years after massive flooding, city moves forward with Holmes Run trail restoration
- Del Ray licensed family counselor completely booked since launching in May
- Alexandria businesses advised to sharpen e-commerce as consumer patterns evolve
- Alexandria swimming pools operating with reduced hours, residents signing waitlists with capacity overload
- Without annual music festival, Del Ray is celebrating with a bar crawl
- Del Ray affordable housing completes long-awaited overhaul
- Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
- Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
- Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
- Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
- No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
- DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
- ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
- After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
- New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
- Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
- Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs
Have a safe weekend!
Virginia extends ‘cocktails-to-go’ laws for another year — “During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many restaurants were shuttered, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) created a safe and secure way for restaurants to offer cocktails to go with a meal. The General Assembly has now continued this practice in statute for one year.” [Zebra]
Republican mayoral candidate Catchings announces she won’t get education endorsement — “I will not be receiving the endorsement from APACE – Alexandria Political Action Committee for Education. What matters most is that I receive the support from Alexandria parents and citizens for School Choice !!” [Twitter]
Alexandria Restaurant Week returning Aug. 20-29 — “For 10 days (including two weekends), diners can enjoy specials from 60+ restaurants throughout Alexandria including Old Town, Del Ray, Carlyle, Eisenhower and the West End. Participating restaurants will be offering special $49 in-person and/or to-go dinner for two and select restaurants will also be offering a $25 in-person and/or to-go dinner for one.” [Alexandria Living]
‘Queens On King Street’ is back — “After a hiatus of more than a year due to the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions, Alexandria’s Queens on King Street group will reconvene on Tuesday, July 13th at The Light Horse from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The occasion will also serve as the group’s five-year anniversary. In 2015, co-founders Timothy McCue, Nathan Sell, and Alex Rodriguez-Rozic created Queens on King Street to provide a space for LGBTQ+ individuals that live, work, or just love to visit Old Town Alexandria.” [Visit Alexandria]
VDOT seeking feedback on Little River Turnpike improvement plan — “Give input on a study assessing potential Rt 236 (Little River Tpk) improvements from I-495 in Annandale to I-395 in Alexandria! View a presentation and take our online survey (also available in Spanish and Korean) through 7/28.” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). Hot. High near 95F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low around 75F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Manager — “Dolci Gelati is a small, customer-focused cafe and gelato shop in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria. We strive to serve the very best in innovative coffee drinks, gelatis, and various other pastries and desserts.” [Indeed]
Months of campaigning came to a head last night as Mayor Justin Wilson and three City Council incumbents held onto their seats despite opposition and the three new members of the City Council were among those most closely aligned with the incumbents.
The city also had relatively high levels of voter turnout for a non-Presidential election year, with 23% of registered voters showing up to the polls.
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.
- Bennett-Parker says Levine mailer on Commonwealth of Virginia letterhead is ethics breach
- Wilson keeps fundraising lead over Silberberg in mayoral primary, McPike leads City Council candidates
- City Council candidate thinks divisive local issues are Republican comeback opportunity
- Former City Council member Willie Bailey announces bid for School Board
- A rare glimpse inside Alexandria’s abandoned and overgrown GenOn power plant
- Virginia Theological Seminary is making reparation payments to slavery descendants
- Alexandria military veterans honored on Memorial Day
- Alexandria brings back summer cooling and senior care program
- Police investigate Old Town hit and run
- Woman arrested in Braddock for attacking father of her child with pepper spray and a knife
- Driver in stolen U-Haul pickup truck successfully eludes Virginia State Police
- Alexandria Jail slowly lifting COVID restrictions, in-person attorney visitation for inmates resumes
- Mayor releases figures for ongoing eviction crisis in Alexandria
- ‘Rock It Grill’ eyeing karaoke expansion, bringing back Halloween party
- UPDATED: President Biden and Gov. Northam visited Alexandria this morning
- JUST IN: Virginia State Police chase U-Haul pickup truck through Alexandria
- Bennett-Parker says Levine mailer on Commonwealth of Virginia letterhead is ethics breach
- Goodie’s Frozen Custard & Treats opens in Old Town
- Hank & Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen closes for the foreseeable future in Old Town North
- Volunteers needed this weekend to help clear dangerous stretch of Mount Vernon Trail
- Wilson and Silberberg mayoral debate finale opens possibility of ‘tweaking’ Seminary Road Diet
- Homegrown Restaurant Group gives employees raise to $15 an hour, will ease COVID restrictions at 6 restaurants
- ‘Rock It Grill’ eyeing karaoke expansion, bringing back Halloween party
- Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
- Ownership of Landmark’s streets could make a big difference down the road
Photo via White House/Twitter
It’s been nearly ten years since Republicans had a spot on the City Council, but Republican City Council candidate Darryl Nirenberg is hoping several divisive issues that have cropped up over the last couple years can help break the blue stranglehold on the city this November.
“Prospects for a Republican are better now than they have been for years,” Nirenberg said. “The issues facing our city, such as divisive plans to house adults on school grounds; road diets; promoting more density in the midst of a pandemic; neglect of our storm drains and infrastructure; and destroying green space — are not partisan.”
Nirenberg also has a personal tie to the legacy of racism within the Republican party. From 1992-1995, he was chief of staff to Senator Jesse Helms, who is largely known for his fierce opposition to desegregation and his derision of Martin Luther King Jr.
According to a biography at his employer’s website, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Nirenberg listed his work with Helms as dealing with banking, financial, and judicial issues. Before that, from 1987 to 1992 he was a counsel and deputy chief of staff for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and from 1983 to 1987 he was a staffer on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
Nirenberg, a graduate of The George Washington University Law School, said he has experienced prejudice himself firsthand and, despite working for a segregationist, that he has always supported civil rights:
Having known and experienced prejudice myself growing up Jewish in rural New York, I have always supported civil rights, and I believe everyone has the right to marry whomever they wish regardless of gender. I have worked for Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R-NY) and Sen. S.I. Hayakawa (R-CA), served on the staff of two Senate Committees, and practiced policy advocacy for Tom Boggs. Instead of talking about these jobs and a long deceased Senator for whom I worked over a quarter century ago, I’d much prefer to focus on what’s at stake in this election and how we can work together to improve the quality of life for all who live in our city.
Even within the Democratic primary, housing co-location at schools, the Seminary Road diet, and stormwater infrastructure have been contentious issues between candidates. Nirenberg said he hopes the frustration with incumbents can lead to local citizens throwing more support behind Republican candidates in November.
“There is a growing recognition that the process is broken; that 100% one party rule over time does not produce the best results, and that there is a need for checks and balances,” Nirenberg said. “We all know the best decisions are reached when there are people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse perspectives sitting around the table.”
Along with Nirenberg’s City Council bid, Annetta Catchings is running as the Republican candidate for mayor. The last Republican City Council members were Alicia Hughes and Frank Fannon, who were ousted in 2012. The last Republican Mayor was elected in 1872 — years before the party’s staunch opposition to the Civil Rights movement starting in the early 20th century led to party realignment.
“We need to plan for our future, not muddle into it,” Nirenberg said. “These policies aren’t divisive or partisan. They are just common-sense.”
So far, Nirenberg has raised $42,807.
His top issues are:
- “The learning gap and reopening schools — not housing adults there.
- “Restore Seminary Road and end road diets.”
- “Save Chinquapin Park and preserve our green space.”
- “Fix our storm drains now.”
- “Stop spending tax dollars to promote more density until our schools and infrastructure catch up and there is a plan to accommodate more density.”
Photo via DarrylNirenberg.com
It’s been nearly 150 years since Alexandria elected its last Republican mayor.
The year 1872 was big for Republicans. President Ulysses S. Grant won his second term in office, and it’s also the last time that Alexandria elected a Republican as mayor.
There have been only three Republican mayors elected in the city’s history, according to the Office of Historic Alexandria.
“Please keep in mind that before the Civil War, the majority of Alexandria’s mayors were either Federalists or Whigs,” City historian Daniel Lee told ALXnow.
Lewis McKenzie was the first Republican mayor of the city, performing as the acting mayor from 1861 to 1863 while the city was occupied by the Union. McKenzie later served as Congressman for Virginia’s 7th District. Charles A. Ware was the next Republican mayor, and served from 1863 to 1866.
Alexandria underwent a deep depression after the war ended. The city was filled by refugees and policed by an army garrison, and was governed under military rule from 1868 until 1870 — when Virginia was formally readmitted to the Union. While not a Republican, conservative Mayor Hugh Latham was removed from office (after serving two years) in 1868 along with all other municipal officers throughout the state as part of the federal Reconstruction Acts.
“Because of the orders, no municipal elections were held in Alexandria in March of 1868 or 1869; this was the first time in the city’s history that elections had been canceled,” the City notes. “Former Confederate soldiers and citizens who had voted for the Ordinance of Secession were disqualified from holding office. Indeed, candidates who aspired to public office were required to take an oath swearing allegiance to the United States and its Constitution.”
The last Republican elected mayor was William Berkley, who was installed by the military in 1868, and then was formally elected in 1872 before resigning that year to be the city’s postmaster.
While much attention has been paid to the ongoing Democratic primary for the City Council election, a small but growing pool of Republican challengers for the general election has gotten slightly larger with the addition of Darryl Nirenberg.
Last year, Nirenberg wrote in a letter to the editor in the Alexandria Times challenging Mayor Justin Wilson’s assertion that cultural white supremacy was still prevalent in Alexandria and Virginia. Nirenberg also challenged Wilson over issues of density, which has become a rallying cry for opposition to incumbents this election– in both general election challengers and within the Democratic primary.
“The same crowd has controlled our city for decades,” Nirenberg wrote in the letter. “They have rigged the system so those with whom they fundamentally disagree can’t get elected to anything. Instead of taking responsibility, the tactic appears now to claim that to make things right, a radical ‘urbanist’ agenda for which there is no electoral mandate must be imposed on the city.”
Earlier this month, Nirenberg made an announcement for his campaign on the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook group, which is non-partisan but focused around opposition to projects like the Seminary Road diet and the Taylor Run stream restoration.
“Thanks to the administrators and those who post here for raising and assessing the issues before our city,” Nirenberg said in his post. “The range of well argued positions posted here have reinforced for me that now is the time for our City Council to put aside divisive policies such as promoting density in the midst of a pandemic, road diets, housing on school grounds and paving over our green space, and instead, look for ways to build consensus on major issues and pull together our city. That’s why I am running, and hope you will visit my website to sign up, volunteer your time, request a yard sign and a bumper sticker, and throw in a contribution.”
Nirenberg’s financial history shows extensive donations to Republican candidates like Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan.
Nirenberg also listed several government transparency goals, including public disclosure of grant applications, an annual publication of city contracts, and returning to election by wards or districts.
Nirenberg could not be reached for comment on this story.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 8, and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.
Photo via DarrylNirenberg.com
Beyer Accuses Trump of Racism — “Just more straight-up racism here from the man who couldn’t disown white supremacy on a national stage 24 hours ago.” [Twitter]
Alexandria GOP Chair Says Residents Fear Being Republican — “He said that the local Republican chapter is in full support of Donald Trump. He believes that Republicans in Alexandria may be silent but significant… He shared that many local Republican supporters fear repercussions if they make their opinions public.” [Alexandria Living]
Apartment-Hotel Company Leases Old Town Building — “Sonder USA Inc. has applied with Alexandria to operate the apartment-hotel coming to 805 King St. The 9,700-square-foot, four-story building, owned by North Carolina’s Asana Partners, has a Warby Parker eyeglasses boutique on the ground floor. Renovations are underway to convert the offices around and above that store to residential units, all with small kitchens, ranging from 225 square feet to 527 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]
Alexandria Drivers Third Rudest in U.S. — “According to a study by Insurify, Alexandrians aren’t very nice people behind the wheel. In fact, we’re pretty darn rude.” [Alexandria Living]
Police Congratulate Retiring Parking Enforcement Officer — “Congratulations and best wishes to PEO (parking enforcement officer) Charity Roberts. Thank you for your 31.5 years of service–you will be missed!!!” [Twitter]
Living Legend James Henson Honored — “On Sunday, Sept. 27, the newest Living Legend of Alexandria, James Henson, received quite the surprise. Friends presented him with his official Living Legends portrait. They gathered outside the Departmental Progressive Club (DPC) to walk to his home.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “Sunny, along with a few afternoon clouds. High 73F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.A steady rain in the evening. Showers continuing late. Low 53F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 70%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Marketing and Communications Manager — “You will be responsible for supporting APCO’s communications and marketing efforts associated with elevating the organization’s profile within emergency communications. The ideal candidate will create and execute strategies that promote the organization’s programs and services while developing and implementing communications plans and related promotional collateral.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Woman Finds Missing $100K Lottery Ticket — “Four months ago she purchased a ticket using some of her favorite numbers, 2-14-15-17-21, and matched all five winning numbers on March 1, but she only just discovered that fact when she cleaned out her purse recently.” [Zebra]
Beyer Says Economic Warning Signs Troublesome — “It’s been a month since Senate Republicans cruelly allowed Americans’ enhanced unemployment benefits to expire amid a pandemic and economic crisis. Don’t be fooled by the stock market: millions of families are experiencing deep hardship. Warning signs for the economy abound.” [Twitter]
Mayor Gets Sneak Peek at ‘The Spire’ Affordable Housing Complex — “Great opportunity to check out AHC Affordable Housing’s latest housing project in the City under construction and arriving early next year. ‘The Spire’ will be 113 units serving 40% – 60% of Area Median Income.” [Facebook]
Ascend Cycle Wins Northern Virginia Magazine Award — “Did you hear?? We won the Best of NOVA: Cycling Studio 2020 We are SO excited to win this honor for a 3rd year in a row!” [Facebook]
Firefighters Raising Funds With Virtual Boot — “Ordinarily at this time of year, the men and women of Alexandria Firefighters, Inc. IAFF Local 2141 would be out around our community working to ‘Fill the Boot’ in support of Muscular Dystrophy Association. Join me in helping them Fill the ‘Virtual’ Boot this year!” [Facebook]
Volunteer Alexandria and Senior Services of Alexandria Need Help — “To meet the increased need due to COVID-19, Senior Services of Alexandria urgently needs 10 more volunteers to help deliver meals to local seniors. Volunteers are asked to commit to delivering meals once a week for three months.” [Facebook]
Today’s Weather — During the day, “Mainly sunny. High 88F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.” At night, “Partly cloudy. Low 73F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Virginia Quality Mental Health Specialist — “ACPS serves as a Local Coordinator for the City of Alexandria and is a part of the VQ Northern region. The VQ Mental Health Specialist will increase caregivers/teachers/directors use of strategies and practices to promote the social emotional development of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children.” [TopSchoolJobs.com]
School System Gives Parents Update on Coronavirus — “We are finalizing our operational and instructional plan should we need to close for any length of time… Anyone with a fever should stay home from school for at least 24 hours after the fever has gone without the use of medication. Individuals who need medical care should contact their primary care physician. Anyone who has come into contact with anyone confirmed with coronavirus should contact the Alexandria Health Department. Potentially impacted schools will be thoroughly cleaned overnight.” [ACPS]
CVS to Waive Prescription Delivery Fees — “CVS Health announced Monday that beginning immediately, the drugstore chain will ‘waive charges for home delivery of prescription medication,’ including locations in Alexandria… With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging people at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay at home as much as possible, this is a convenient option to avoid coming to the pharmacy for refills of prescriptions.” [Patch]
Beyer to Self-Quarantine After Exposure — “As coronavirus continues its rapid spread, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is among those self-quarantining after coming into contact with someone who had the disease. Beyer announced Tuesday night that he recently dined with a friend in D.C. who later tested positive for COVID-19.” [ARLnow]
Beyer Gains a GOP Challenger — “On Friday, Mark Ellmore officially filed to seek the Republican nomination for Congress from Virginia’s Eighth District in 2020…. It is currently represented in Congress by Democratic Rep. Don Beyer.” [Falls Church News-Press]
NOVA Teen Book Fest This Weekend Cancelled — “Our priority, as a festival, has been to create a transformative, positive and safe environment for all of our participants. With the recent spread of COVID-19 to the Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC Metro areas, we are unable to ensure that all of our authors, volunteers, exhibitors, staff and attendees will be safe at the festival this weekend.” [NOVA Teen Book Festival]
D.C.-Area Coronavirus Cases Rise — “Six new coronavirus cases were announced in Maryland and Virginia on Tuesday, and officials said several universities in the region will temporarily halt in-person classes in an effort to stop the virus from spreading. Twenty-two coronavirus cases have now been reported in the region.” [Washington Post]