Alexandria, VA

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-31) was in Old Town Thursday to introduce “Women For McClellan”, an initiative to send more than 75 her female supporters around the state in the run up to the June 8 Democratic primary.

McLellan held the event outside fibre space in Old Town, although shop owner Danielle Romanetti could not participate. It was her second event outside the shop, which has gained attention since being visited by Vice President Kamala Harris and being featured on GMA3 and Lifetime.

“It is time that women, and especially Black women who have been the backbone of our party, who have been the backbone of economic opportunity, who have been the essential care workforce — it is time their needs and their perspectives are heard and met,” McClellan said. “Even in 2021, we still have to educate policymakers that sexual harassment and workplace harassment is real, and that women across Virginia face it every single day. It is time for that new perspective, and it is time for someone with that experience to solve those problems on day one.”

Romanetti said that McClellan is a hard-working legislator.

“Sen. McClellan has 15 years of experience as a legislator in Virginia and has shown that she is both thoughtful and hard working,” Romanetti told ALXnow after the event. “It is time that our state elects a woman to our highest office, and I’m proud to support her candidacy.”

While McClellan did not delve into specific policy positions, she was publicly endorsed Thursday by former Congresswoman Leslie Byrne and State Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-33).

“There’s a saying in both politics and business,” Byrne said. “Just don’t tell me what you’re going to do. Show me what you’ve done… She has done so much over her life. She does for the Commonwealth what I hope every citizen would do. She works to make it better.”

McClellan currently trails in third place behind former Governor Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Jennifer Carrol Foy in fundraising. She’s the vice chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, and spent 11 years in the House of Delegates before being elected in a special election to the Senate in 2017.

She also said that her new group of supporters will help “shatter the glass ceiling” that has kept women out of the governor’s mansion.

“When my grandparents and parents fought for the right to vote, for the right to be treated like other citizens, they taught me through their life experience growing up in the Depression as they did under the tyranny of Jim Crow, that at its best government is a force that helps some people, that solves their problems and makes the community better. But at its worst, it oppresses some to the benefit of others,” she said.

McClellan continued, “As we face the worst health pandemic in 100 years, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a reckoning with racial injustice, a growing loss in faith that Virginians have in government’s ability to understand and care about their problems, let alone solve them — we need a new perspective in the governor’s mansion. Virginia has the worst record of elected women to office. It’s time to change that. We’re going to change that.”

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

Volunteers Needed to Unload 40K Pounds of Food for Five Food Pantries — “Getting this food is a huge opportunity and we are excited to provide love and security to families in our neighborhood. Thank you for your help!” [Zebra]

Juvenile Robbed of Phone in West End — “The Alexandria Police Dept is investigating a robbery from a person in the 1400 blk of N. Beauregard St. A juvenile female had her cellphone stolen by a group of juvenile males. No injuries reported. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Northam Gets Legislation Eliminating Death Penalty — “Abolition of the Death Penalty is on the Governor’s Desk. Thank you to everyone who has worked towards this moment. Virginia can start to lead the world again on human rights and justice.” [Twitter]

City Seeks Feedback on Community Policing Review Board — “Options for establishing an Independent Community Policing Review Board will be considered by Alexandria City Council on March 9.” [Patch]

Bill Reagan Named Living Legend of Alexandria — “Recently our Director, Bill Reagan, was announced as a 2020 Living Legend of Alexandria! Read more about how Bill started the Alexandria SBDC and his 25 years of unwavering service to the Alexandria small business community.” [Facebook]

Wonder Woman 1984 Drum Will Be Up Until the End of the Month — “The seven-foot drum prop from #WonderWoman1984 will be on display in Old Town until February 28.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy skies (during the day). High 63F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 38F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Team Member at Barca Wine Bar and Pier — “We are seeking high volume , servers’, bartenders, hosts and support team members as we open Alexandria’s newest waterfront treasure.” [Indeed]

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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.

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.”

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Morning Notes

Beyer Urges Senate to Remove Trump After House Impeachment — “Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States, and a menace to the Constitution. The events of the past week, my conscience, my oath of office, and my duty to the people of Northern Virginia allow no other course than to vote for his impeachment. I urge the Senate to remove him from office as swiftly as possible.” [Beyer.house.gov]

Police Seeking Alexandria Man For Assaulting Woodbridge Boy — “Ian M. Simpson is wanted after police said he attempted to strangle an 8-year-old boy during after two arguments between the two relatives.” [Patch]

Police: Business Robbed on N. Quaker Lane Wednesday Morning — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a robbery from a business in the 1600 block of N. Quaker Lane. It happened around 5:45am. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

WATCH: Governor Northam Gives State of Commonwealth Speech — “My 2021 State of the Commonwealth address is starting–watch live.” [Twitter]

Poll Opens to Select New Names for T.C. Williams High and Matthew Maury Elementary Schools — “Between now and Jan. 27, we are asking everyone to help us whittle down names that have been suggested by our students over the last month. Don’t like any of the options you see? The community will also be given another chance to make suggestions at this time.” [Zebra]

Casa Chirilagua Gets Desk Donations from Building Momentum — “Casa Chirilagua, a non-profit serving the Arlandria neighborhood in northern Virginia near Reagan National Airport, has been one of the largest recipients and distributors of the desks. Adriana Gómez Schellhaas, executive director of Casa Chirilagua, said the non-profit has distributed over 50 desks to homes and learning centers in their community.” [USChamber.com]

Today’s Weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High near 55F. Winds light and variable… A few clouds from time to time in the evening. Low 31F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Experienced Servers at Mia’s Italian Kitchen — “We are searching for Experienced Servers to join our Team at Mia’s in OLD TOWN” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Offers Condolences to Family of Fallen Capitol Officer — “Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick gave his life in the line of duty to keep us safe. I mourn his loss, and I send my deepest condolences to his family.” [Twitter]

Governor Making State of Commonwealth Speech Tonight — “Tune in tomorrow at 7:00 PM for my 2021 State of the Commonwealth address.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Sheriff’s Department Mourns Fairfax County Sheriff’s Deputy to COVID-19 — “Our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant Frederick “Butch” Cameron and to our brothers and sisters at the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office. We are so very sorry.” [Twitter]

Local Businesses Urged to Register with Health Department for Vaccine Schedule — “Have questions about vaccine distribution? #AlexandriaVA businesses that employ essential personnel are encouraged to register with the Alexandria Health Department so they can be alerted when the vaccine is available for their workers.” [Twitter]

Palestinian Roasted Chicken Restaurant Coming to Alexandria — “The rotisserie-style halal chicken with skin that snaps is brined for 24 hours, then coated with allspice, sumac, cumin, fenugreek, and cardamom before going into a specialty oven imported from Lebanon. Shababi is a takeout-only “ghost restaurant” operating out of Roro’s Modern Lebanese restaurant in Alexandria.” [Washington City Paper]

Alexandria Times Celebrates One Year of Podcasting — “In 2020, the Alexandria Times launched its first podcast, Speak Easy, and over the last year reporter-turned-managing-editor Cody Mello-Klein has spoken with the people who make Alexandria tick.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). High near 50F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds overnight. Low 29F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: High Volume Servers —  “We are BLESSED to Be BUSY! We are searching for Experienced Servers to join our Team at Vola’s Dockside in OLD TOWN! [Indeed]

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Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker will not seek reelection and is running for the 45th District seat currently held by Del. Mark Levine as he runs for Virginia Lieutenant Governor.

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.

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As the state legislature continues to work towards marijuana decriminalization, members of the City Council at a meeting last night urged that revenue and opportunities from legal marijuana sales work their way back into communities long punished for its use.

“My concern is that any revenue generated by [decriminalization] is where those funds are going to,” said City Councilman Canek Aguirre. “It’s important to stress this going to people whose lives affected [and] who were locked up.”

Aguirre said that support needs to take the shape of mental health support, job training, housing assistance and food assistance — particularly for those who are being released from incarceration.

“It’s important that we play close attention to what kind of revenue is being generated and where that funding is being sent,” Aguirre said.

Councilman John Taylor Chapman agreed, saying it was important that state leadership pay attention at its upcoming legislative session to who is profiting from decriminalization.

“We [should] also pay attention to who is getting an opportunity to make revenue from this opportunity,” Chapman said. “Now that it’s legal,  [we should see] if there are certain communities where we can make it equitable.”

Profits from marijuana sales landing at large, predominately white organizations after decades of arrests and incarceration of Black Americans has generated controversy.

“We’ve seen that as an issue in other states,” Chapman said. “There needs to be a wholesome discussion.”

Photo via Wesley Gibbs/Unsplash

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(Updated 11/18) The Alexandria City Council met with state legislators this weekend to hammer out priorities for the upcoming year, complete with a few sparks as legislators and City Council representatives clashed.

A few times every year, Alexandria’s city leadership meets with state representatives to iron out what local government sees as priorities for the session. The meetings have grown substantially more hopeful in the year since the Democrats took control of the legislature.

Del. Charniele Herring (D-46), the House majority leader, said much of the upcoming session in the House of Delegates will be focused on the nuts and bolts of infrastructure. In particular, Herring said the increased reliance on the internet for many schools to operate will require the Virginia legislature to explore greater broadband access across the commonwealth.

Funding, as state Senator Dick Saslaw (D-35) noted, will also be a large part of the upcoming session. Mayor Justin Wilson said the city’s priority for funding was ensuring that state funding for schools are impacted by decreases in enrollment.

“Our enrollment numbers are down,” Wilson said. “Not as much as some — we’re down about 3% — and I know there is going to be a more concentrated effort to get a hold-harmless effort on school funding.”

State Sen. George Barker (D-39) said this shouldn’t be an issue, with the state having a hire than expected sales tax revenue.

“Sales tax revenue is up this year so far,” Barker said. “We’ve committed to make sure that any drop in sales tax revenue does not impact schools across the commonwealth.”

Wilson also asked that legislators consider pushing for additional CARES Act support, which has been vital for the city’s testing program.

“Testing three times a week is being funded in partnership with state CARES act dollars,” Wilson said. “A lot of support goes away in January. Anything you guys can do to free that up will be helpful”

Herring and City Councilman Mo Seifeldein briefly clashed as the latter pressed Herring to commit to supporting legislation banning private prisons, urging her to use her capacity as House majority leader to ensure progress is made on the issue, but Herring pushed back that she wouldn’t commit to supporting legislation she hadn’t seen yet.

“You’re asking me to commit to legislation we haven’t seen,” Herring said. “I did say I do not support private prisons. I take this issue very seriously. Don’t assume I don’t support a position of the concept, but I won’t support a bill until I see the legislation, but I do support the concept.”

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker also pressed for the legislature to reform laws that limit online access to meetings, which currently requires physical presence in a room for elected positions with very few exceptions.

“The current law only allows members to participate twice per year electronically,” Parker said. “This body meets 50 times a year. People have had to resign for medical issues or because they had to travel. I have read every single other state’s open meeting law at this point and Virginia is in the minority in how we deal with this issue.”

Del. Mark Levine (D-45) said a bill with more flexibility in online meetings had been passed in the House of Delegates and a similar version was likely to pass the State Senate this year.

The draft legislative package will be considered by the City Council for adoption on Dec. 8.

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While a moratorium on evictions is temporarily back in place, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has proposed legislation that could give residents more of a chance to avoid them in the long term.

“This bill is a win-win and will stem the potential tide of evictions in Virginia,” Ebbin said on social media, “and has consensus support from tenants and landlords alike.”

The legislation requires landlords who own more than four rental dwelling units, or more than 10% interest in more than four dwellings, to serve written notice to tenants of the total rent due and offer a payment plan prior to terminating the rental agreement. Under the payment plan, tenants must pay the total amount in equal monthly installments within six months or the time remaining under the rental agreement.

The legislation was introduced last Monday, Aug. 17, and moved to committee discussion on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

If the tenant fails to pay any installment required by the payment plan within five days of the due date, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement.

Tenants who are participating in rent relief programs are explicitly protected under the ordinance. The change is not permanent, however, and is “not enforceable unless activated by executive order during a declared state of emergency.”

The legislation is the latest move in an ongoing back and forth over renters laid off amid record-high unemployment in Alexandria being required to continue making rent payments. Conflict between renters and landlords have led to protests and rental assistance offered by the City of Alexandria.

The bill was introduced by Ebbin and state Sen. John Bell, and is cosponsored by State Senators Barbara Favola, Jenn McClellan and Jennifer Boysko.

 

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Morning Notes

New Virginia Majority Wants to Suspend Evictions to April 2021 — “Do you live in SD-39 (parts of Alexandria, southern Fairfax County & northern Prince William County)? Your community needs YOU to urge Senator George Barker to support legislation to stop evictions in Virginia through April 30, 2021.” [Facebook]

Beyer Continues Daily Stream of Anti-Republican/Trump Social Messaging — “Still thinking about when Trump wanted to inject people with bleach.” [Twitter]

ACPS Looking for Volunteer Athletic Coaches — “T.C. Athletic Dept is working with coaches who would like to volunteer their time to start outside conditioning days for our athletes. We are polling parents of athletes to gather info so that it can be used to make our final decision.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Fire Department Hiring This Fall — “The next recruitment process for the Alexandria Fire Department is scheduled to begin this Fall!” [Twitter]

City Recognizes ‘Be Kind to Humankind Week’ — “Social support is exceptionally important for maintaining good physical and mental health.” [Facebook]

Flu Shots Available at Giant Food Stores — “Standard flu shots as well as high dose flu vaccines for customers over the age of 64 are available.” [Patch]

Today’s Weather — In the morning: “Sunny, along with a few afternoon clouds. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 94F. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph.” At night: “Partly to mostly cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 69F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Floral Manager — “Designs and fashions live, cut, dried, and artificial floral and foliage arrangements for events such as holidays, anniversaries, weddings, parties, and funerals. Responsible for processing/ packaging/ stocking/ maintaining floral products according to standards, cleaning work areas, providing customer service unloading stock, and reloading salvage.” [Indeed]

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