One year after her race against incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson, Annetta Catchings has been elected chair of the Alexandria Republican City Committee (ARCC).
A release from ARCC noted that Catchings is the first black woman elected to the position in ARCC.
“It’s about winning,” Catchings said in the release. “Seeing me in this role destroys some of the narratives from the Democrats, and helps people think about politics in new ways.”
While some past Republicans have taken a more neutral tone on the Republican Party’s positions to try to curry favor in the heavily blue Alexandria — which hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1872 — Catchings’ Twitter page includes references to abortion as genocide and opposition to gun control.
“Democrats beware,” Terri Hauser, a current vice-chair with the ARCC and former chair, said in the release. “Annetta Catchings is injecting fresh energy and infectious optimism into the Alexandria GOP at a time when so many Alexandrians are frustrated with the direction of our city and country.”
Any ambitions to unseat Democrats in Alexandria city leadership face an uphill battle. Wilson won reelection with 67.66% of the vote in 2022 compared to 30.93% for Catchings (1.41% went to write-in votes). Darryl Nirenberg, the Republican candidate for City Council, won 8.69% of the vote. In 2020, Joe Biden won 80.28% of the vote in Alexandria compared to 17.63% for Donald Trump.
“The election of Ms. Annetta Catchings as the Chair of the Alexandria Republican City Committee is historic for this former slave-trading city,” former Vice Mayor Bill Cleveland said in the release. “The fact that she has earned her place as the first woman of color to lead Alexandria Republicans shows that the party is open to all, and that the party of Lincoln strives to live up to our national ideals.”
I’m both honoured and grateful. Looking forward to working with dynamic leaders such as yourself.@TimParrishVA @RedRenaissance_ https://t.co/EoIkYQBUhc
— Annetta Catchings for Alexandria (@annetta_of) July 9, 2022
The full press release is posted below the jump:
Local Republicans nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman on Saturday to seek the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).
Early voting is underway for the primary to determine whether Lipsman faces Beyer or his primary challenger, Victoria Virasingh, in the November general election. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.
At the local GOP’s ranked choice convention, Lipsman earned 61.5% of the votes in the first round of vote counting, according to a press release on her campaign website.
Votes for Lipsman came out ahead of other Republican hopefuls as the slate of candidates sought to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Alexandria resident Kezia Tunnell received 19.12% of the vote, and the 2020 nominee Jeff Jordan received 15.92%. Two other candidates, McLean resident Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher, did not break 2.5%, the release stated.
Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment” in the 8th District, an email from Arlington GOP read. The seat has been held by a Democrat for decades, including by Beyer who won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.
Lipsman fled Ukraine when it was still under Soviet Union control and came to the United States with her mother and grandparents, according to her campaign website. They didn’t speak English, survived on food stamps and lived in low-income housing in Baltimore. When she was 18, Lipsman became a U.S. citizen.
She received a bachelor’s degree in economics while she was working full-time in the financial industry, and later earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins, according to the website. She’s worked in the national defense industry for over a decade.
Her website outlines priorities like supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion.
She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs. She also wrote, “We must fight the dangerous voices that call for lowering educational standards in the name of equity.”
After her nomination, Arlington Democrats posted to Twitter calling her an “extreme right candidate,” linking to a recording of her allegedly saying “Fauci should be jailed” at a candidate forum.
Lipsman’s website she mentions extremists and divisive politics. “Let’s be honest — there are loud extremists on both sides, who benefit from dividing our country, and we cannot let that happen,” it reads. “Divisive politics are poisonous and we must work together to overcome the gridlock on the critical issues that are facing our country.”
After living in Arlington for more than 10 years, she says she understands the issues facing the community.
“As your congresswoman, I will engage with you directly and represent your interests and put solutions for our district before partisan politics,” her website reads. “I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, ease transportation and improve our educational standards.”
Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee
Last week, Agenda Alexandria sat local Republicans and Democrats together at a table to hash things out and try to find a way forward.
The round table discussion featured former Delegate Mark Levine and Legislative Director Sarah Taylor voicing the more Democrat-aligned viewpoint. On the Republican side was The Family Foundation Director of External Relations Michael Leaser and Michael Ginsberg, vice president of CACI and leader of the Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition.
One of the main points of discussion was the Dillon Rule, a longtime nemesis of local governance that the Democrats at the table should be a point of agreement between both Republicans and Democrats but hasn’t been.
“When I first learned about what conservatives were, I’d heard that conservatives believe in local control and elected officials closest to the people should be able to decide these things: that’s a load of hooey,” said Levine. “That’s not true, at least not in Virginia. I guarantee you the Republicans do not want local control for Alexandria, they want power, and if they control the state levers they will use that power.”
Taylor said her job in Richmond is to serve the interests of the city and not be a “party hack”, but said the Dillon Rule has been a source of frustration for local advocates even though it does provide the legislative director with a degree of job security.
“I will never understand why a legislator from far southwest Virginia cares one iota about something we’re going to do in Alexandria,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the main argument she hears from Republican legislators in favor of the Dillon Rule is keeping Virginia laws from splintering dramatically along local lines. Levine said the issue isn’t local vs state control, but which localities are granted more or less authority based on their political alignments.
Ginsberg acknowledged those divisions exist but said that for some Republicans the Dillon Rule exists as a way of holding the line on what he called “principal issues.”
“Some of that is about principal issues, like gun control, where people feel strongly about something in principal,” Ginsberg said. “That’s an issue where you’re down so far away from Alexandria you might say ‘this is a matter of constitutional principal and I’m not going to support that.'”
Still, Ginsberg said there are issues that are very in the weeds where localities understandably “don’t want the camel’s nose in the tent.”
Leaser said he was generally in favor of more of that authority being shifted to localities.
“I am a small-government conservative,” Leaser said. “As much as possible, when it makes sense, local governments know their people better than the state. That might not be a popular opinion among Republicans here, but I think that is a conservative position.”
Leaser said he’s worked across the aisle on other issues, like defeating a casino referendum in Richmond or helping to secure funding for the Martin Scorsese film Silence. Leaser said one area he’s hopeful for collaboration with Democrats is expanding charter school options in Northern Virginia. Leaser said many families have issues with public schools and a “good, robust charter school system in Alexandria” could help diffuse some of the tensions about what is taught in classrooms.
Reaching across the aisle is something Ginsberg said Governor Glenn Youngkin will need to do more if he wants to achieve his aspirations for higher office.
“When you can reach across the aisle and find a middle ground, finding those issues it pays a lot of dividends from a political perspective, but it also sets lane markers for where we can get things done in Richmond,” Ginsberg said. The other thing in this, and this is a thing a lot of activists will tell you: Youngkin is a man of some ambition. I don’t think this is going to be his last elected office. I think he would love to have an opportunity to prove to voters that ‘I can work across the aisle and I can get things done with both sides.'”
Youngkin hasn’t had the best reception in Alexandria so far, but Ginsberg said he’d encourage Youngkin to find common ground with Democrats on more issues.
Levine argued Youngkin has already helped to bring some Republicans and Democrats together, though maybe not in the way he’s intended.
“The tip line, to call the state if a teacher teaches something controversial: every single superintendent in the Commonwealth has signed a letter saying to get rid of that tipline,” Levine said. “He’s brought people together: but against these policies.”
City of Alexandria vs. Commonwealth of Virginia: new governing dynamics https://t.co/h1K6cuQz1n
— Agenda Alexandria (@agendalexandria) March 28, 2022
Among the slate of new officials being picked for statewide positions under Governor Glenn Youngkin is a familiar face among Alexandria Republicans: former City Council candidate Monique Miles.
Miles was tapped to serve as deputy attorney general for Government Operations and Transactions, a division that represents executive agencies, state boards, authorities and commissions in all legal matters.
Miles is an attorney in Alexandria and was recognized by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’ 40 Under 40 list in 2019. Miles ran for City Council in 2015. As a candidate, Miles advocated for more public-private partnerships in schools and cuts to non-essential city services. Miles founded Old Towne Associates, P.C. in 2013.
“I am excited and honored, and look forward to serving the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Miles said in a press release from the Alexandria Republican City Committee (ARCC).
Robert E. Lee home in Alexandria omits famous resident in new listing — “The Potts-Fitzhugh House in Old Town Alexandria is for sale for $5,995,000. The listing for the six-bedroom, five-bathroom, 8,000-square-foot mansion includes a thorough description of the place, but omits a key fact: It was the childhood home of Robert E. Lee.” [Washingtonian]
Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin stops in Alexandria — “At an early Saturday morning campaign stop in Alexandria, Virginia, supporters for Youngkin told Fox News that family and education are top ticket items in their decision to back the GOP candidate.” [Fox News]
City to resume enforcement of vehicle registration decals and more Dec. 1 — “If you drive in Alexandria, this is news you need to know. Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 1, the city will resume the enforcement of state vehicle registration decals, expired driver’s licenses, and HOV lane restrictions.” [Zebra]
New development moves forward at Carlyle with ‘Air Rights’ changes — “The last undeveloped lot in the Carlyle neighborhood is taking another step closer to being developed with a rare subdivision of lots.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
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.
The election isn’t over, however. While Alexandria voters tend to lean blue, City Council candidates will compete against Republican Darryl Nirenberg and Independent Florence King in November.
Mayor Justin Wilson will also face off against Republican Annetta Catchings, and for the 45th District, Elizabeth Bennett-Parker is running against Republican J.D. Maddox.
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