Newsletter

Morning Notes

Local teen with cancer knits blankets to raise awareness — “West Potomac High School senior Jessica Foss should have been thinking about prom, graduation and heading off to college in the fall. Instead, in May 2020, in addition to missing out on typical senior year activities because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Foss received a diagnosis that would turn her world even more upside down – cancer.” [Alexandria Living]

Deadline nearing to register to vote in November election — “Oct. 12 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 General Election. Any eligible US citizen who will be 18 by 11/2/21 can register to vote. Questions about your registration status? Call us at 703.746.4050. vote.elections.virginia.gov”  [Twitter]

First City Council candidate forum is Wednesday — “The Seminary Road Civic Association will hold two question and answer forums for the nine candidates running for City Council and the two candidates running for mayor. The first of these forums takes place on Oct. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. and will include all candidates for City Council. The second SRCA forum will be held on Oct. 19 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will be between incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson and challenger Annetta Catchings. Both forums will be held on Zoom.” [Alex Times]

7 can’t miss Instagram spots in Alexandria — “Autumn in Alexandria, VA means show-stopping trees sweeping historic streetscapes with autumn hues, photo-ready rowhouses decked out with seasonal décor and gas lamps flickering above red brick sidewalks. Find timely artwork, sip a rainbow cider flight and more this fall–camera in hand. Pack a mask, put portrait mode on and get inspired with our ideas below” [Visit Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Considerable cloudiness (during the day). Occasional rain showers in the afternoon. High near 80F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%… Variable clouds with showers and scattered thunderstorms (in the evening). Storms more numerous during the evening. Low 67F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Professional pet sitter — “Alexandria Pet Care seeks a career pet expert to work with animals in their homes, dog walking and pet sitting. We are the most trusted and most experienced team in town, and we’d love to add you to our team of experts!” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

On Wednesday (September 29), 757 Alexandria City High School seniors in government classes participated in a mock election, and voted for governor, lieutenant governor, the House of Delegates seat in the 46th District, Commonwealth’s attorney and Sheriff. The results were not made public, as the unofficial voting was just an exercise. (Via Claire Going/ACPS)

Aslin Beer Co. opens new scratch kitchen in Alexandria — “For the past two years, Chef Taylor Gates has been learning about pizza and dough — and now the taproom at Aslin Beer Co. in Alexandria’s West End is ready to serve it up. Aslin is opening a new scratch kitchen concept this week called Knead.” [Alexandria Living]

City Council approves additional eviction prevention resources — “City Council’s decision funds $457,000 for two service navigator and two housing relocator positions; storage assistance for household belongings; and additional legal services provided by the Legal Aid Justice Center to assist people at risk for eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [City of Alexandria]

Inova Alexandria Hospital brings peer recovery to the emergency room — “Patients visiting the E.R. for a substance-related crisis can speak with a specialist once they are medically stable. The idea is to help them take that first step toward recovery.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Plentiful sunshine. High 74F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 51F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Employee Rotation Program with the Office of Historic Alexandria — “Work involves writing, editing and planning layout of brochures and flyers, newspaper articles, press releases, and/or planning and implementing publicity and fundraising campaigns. Work requires the exercise of creativity, independent judgment, and a familiarity with Alexandria’s African American history. The work is performed under general supervision of the Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum in consultation with the Director of OHA.” [Governmentjobs.com]

Via Claire Going/ACPS

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Morning Notes

Alexandria chooses historic trolley as 2021 holiday ornament — “The City of Alexandria is now taking orders for its 2021 Trolley ornament, depicting Car 303 of the Mount Vernon Alexandria & Washington Electric Railway. The fleet of art deco cars were purchased in 1918 for the essential trolley line that connected Del Ray commuters to DC and tourists to Mount Vernon. Car 303 ran until the railway’s closure in 1932. It became a diner in 1936.” [Zebra]

Missing 83-year-old West Ender found safe — “Mr. Navia has been located.” [Twitter]

Early voting starts Friday — “Early voting for the Nov 2 General Election begins Fri, Sep 17. In Alexandria, ballot includes contests for VA Governor; Lt. Governor; Attorney General; House of Delegates; Commonwealth’s Attorney; Sheriff; Mayor; City Council & School Board.” [Twitter]

Chamber ALX sets legislative agenda — “Over the last decade we have been an outspoken voice for the completion of Potomac Yard metro, redevelopment of Landmark Mall, streamlining small business regulations and a champion of countless issues directly impacting the business community. We are proud to be entrusted with amplifying the voice of the diverse businesses in our city…” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy skies early will become partly cloudy later in the day. Hot. High 92F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds (in the evening). Low 71F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Chef De Cuisine at The Alexandrian — “Sage Hotel Management is currently seeking a Chef De Cuisine for our King & Rye restaurant located inside The Alexandrian Hotel, in Alexandria, VA.” [Indeed]

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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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The June 8 Democratic primary is next Tuesday, and the latest fundraising totals show that Mayor Justin Wilson has still outraised his opponent, former Mayor Allison Silberberg.

Kirk McPike is also continuing to lead financially among City Council candidates.

Below are fundraising totals for the Democratic candidates from the Virginia Public Access Project, as of June 1, 2021.

Mayoral race

Mayor Justin Wilson

  • Raised — $169,257
  • Balance — $30,583

Former Mayor Allison Silberberg

  • Raised — $126,688
  • Balance — $55,477

Council race

Kirk McPike

  • Raised — $87,853
  • Balance — $15,951

Alyia Gaskins

  • Raised — $77,667
  • Balance — $9,153

John Taylor Chapman 

  • Raised — $74,957
  • Balance — $58,282

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Monday night was a clinic in anti-establishment thinking, as the final group of City Council candidates opined on such issues as transparency, the Seminary Road Diet, the elimination of school resource officer funding and shifting from an at-large to a ward system.

It was the third and final Council forum with the Seminary Ridge Civic Association, which last week featured two virtual panels with the other candidates.

City Councilwoman Amy Jackson said that she voted against the Seminary Road Diet, and that if there is enough support will vote to reverse it in January.

“If I’m reelected and we get the votes of course that’ll be one of the first things I’m going to look at in January,” Jackson said. “City Council, for as much as they say they listen to everybody’s voice, then they go and vote in a way that honestly shows that they weren’t listening.”

Candidate Mark Shiffer said that the concerns of 13 civic associations opposed to the road diet were not taken into account, and that the decision to move forward was predetermined by Council, despite the legislation’s 4-3 Council vote in 2019.

“What we saw was a decision that had already been made, and that’s why we’re seeing that there was an appearance of not listening,” he said, adding that Council also overstepped its bounds with its decision to eliminate school resource officers (SROs) from Alexandria City Public Schools. “I don’t think the City Council should have overruled overruled the (School) Board. That’s why we have a Board to make those decisions, and if you don’t like what the Board does vote them out. If you want City Council to run the schools, well let’s get rid of the School Board, right?”

Jackson said that she held her ground against the 4-3 SRO decision, and that it undermined the School Board.

“I did not want to take $800,000 away from the police because they didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.

However, candidate Kevin Harris is in favor of the elimination of SROs.

“You have to understand me being a young man of color, and attending schools that have had school resource officers,” he said. “I’ve seen so many times how minor, minor disciplinary issues have turned into criminal issues, I’ve had friends personally who have been put sent to juvenile detention centers for things that don’t even make sense.”

Harris also said that colocating affordable housing on school grounds should be kept on the table, while Jackson, Shiffer and Independent candidate Florence King are against the concept.

On ward representation, Jackson said that it would lead to further inequities.

“When you’re a public servant to the city, you really should know everything that’s going on everywhere because one puzzle piece in your neck of the woods may connect and usually does to something else somewhere else,” she said. “I would hate for anything to fall through the cracks just because we have a ward system, and maybe someone who is really not as engaged in that one Ward and then those people don’t have the representation that they need.”

Shiffer said that the at-large system is absurd.

“It’s very difficult to represent 160,000 people,” he said. “My personal favorite is a solution where the mayor is at-large, we have one or two council members at large, and I think in that way, we make sure that all parts of the city are represented.”

The Seminary Ridge mayoral forum between Mayor Justin Wilson and former Mayor Allison Silberberg is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 27.

The Democratic primary is on June 8.

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Morning Notes

Suit alleging admissions discrimination at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology moves forward — “More than 70 percent of the student body at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is Asian American; Black and Hispanic students have been woefully underrepresented there for decades. At a hearing Friday in Alexandria, lawyers for the Fairfax County School Board urged a judge to toss out the lawsuit. They argue that the new admissions policies are race-neutral. But the judge ruled that the parents’ group made a compelling claim that the board’s true motivation was to increase Black and Hispanic representation at the expense of Asian Americans.” [WAVY.com]

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra extends contract for Maestro James Ross — “The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) announced that Music Director James Ross received a contract extension through the 2023-24 season. Ross has been at the helm of ASO since 2018. He is the fifth music director in ASO’s 78-year history.” [Zebra]

Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office tackling workplace stress with wellness challenge — “May is National Employee Health and Wellness Month. For the first time, my office has fully embraced that designation by implementing our ‘Mindful May Wellness Challenge.’ In addition to providing our employees with advice on mindfulness, we have constructed a month of activities and events designed to focus on employee wellness.” [AlexTimes]

Alexandria Drive-In announces June movies — “Tickets are $40 per car, and food trucks will be on-site each night providing delish, savory, and sweet concessions with online ordering through Goodfynd! Proceeds from the movie series will benefit local Alexandria charity, ATHENA Rapid Response Innovation Lab.” [Alexandria Living]

New sign unveiled in Del Ray for hero Rocky Versace — “Alexandria’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Del Ray bears Versace’s name and now, through the efforts of the Friends of Rocky Versace and the City of Alexandria, that narrative was unveiled May 15 during an Armed Forces Day ceremony at the local landmark.” [Gazette]

Local businesses struggle adapting to new mask guidance — ‘”My fear is that people will say they’re vaccinated when they’re not vaccinated and then just walk around unmasked,’ said Nicole McGrew, owner of the clothing and accessories boutique Threadleaf in Old Town Alexandria.” [NPR]

This Friday is the deadline to request a ballot by mail — “Last day to request a ballot by mail for the June 8 Democratic Party Primary Election. Applications must be received in the Voter Registration Office by 5pm. Applications may be submitted online (http://elections.virginia.gov) or by mail, fax (703.838.6449) or email ([email protected])” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Overcast with rain showers at times. High around 70F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… Rain showers early with overcast skies late. Low 59F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Surveillance investigator — “DigiStream Investigations, a fast-growing private investigations firm, seeks a full-time Surveillance Investigator to work under general supervision, investigating suspicious worker’s compensation claims from various corporate clients in the state of Virginia. This autonomous position is both journalistic and investigative in nature, and centers around obtaining quality video footage and detailed report rendering on the activities captured by the investigator.” [Indeed]

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With the Democratic primary underway, candidates for the city council, mayoral, and state seats are putting together lists of endorsements from organizations and other notable locals.

As a local voter, how much do endorsements matter to you?

In national elections, endorsements tend to hold relatively little sway with voters. But in local politics, voters tend to be more directly connected to elected leaders.

(Also, LNN doesn’t endorse, so stop asking)

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After a random selection process this morning (Wednesday), the Alexandria Office of Voter Registration and Elections has the order that candidate names will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary.

The first 11 candidates filed at the same time, and their order was determined by the Alexandria Electoral Board. The names were put in separate film canisters, which were put in a bowl and mixed around. The last two candidates were listed in the order that they filed their paperwork.

In-person absentee voting begins on Friday, April 23, which is 45 days before the June 8 primary. The registrar has sent off the names and currently waiting for approval from the Virginia State Board of Elections before creating a sample ballot, which will include mayoral candidates and candidates for statewide offices.

“Once that has been approved by the state we’ll produce those and get those published,” Alexandria Registrar Angela Turner told ALXnow.

Additionally, since the School Board is an independent body, their filing deadline for reelection is June 8.

The order for Council candidates on the ballot is below.

  1. Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins
  2. Patrick B. Moran
  3. R. Kirk McPike
  4. John Taylor Chapman (incumbent)
  5. James C. Lewis, Jr.
  6. Amy B. Jackson (incumbent)
  7. Canek Aguirre (incumbent)
  8. William E. “Bill” Campbell
  9. Sarah R. Bagley
  10. Kevin J. Harris
  11. William C. “Bill” Rossello
  12. Meronne E. Teklu
  13. Mark Leo Shiffer

After June 8, the top six vote candidates will move on to the November general election, after which the recipient of the most votes will be named vice mayor-elect.

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Mayor Justin Wilson says that a study by a conservative activist group alleging that 105% of the city’s voting population is registered to vote is “BS”.

Wilson wrote that a Judicial Watch study incorrectly calculated U.S. Census data from the American Community Survey (ACS) when it listed the city’s citizen voting age population at 105%, with 109,889 total registered voters and a total of 104,975 eligible voters. The study was picked up by Republican gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Amanda Chase, who said on social media that there needs to be “absolute integrity in our state electoral system.”

“Reports of deceased people, cats, dogs, voters voting multiple times, ghost votes etc are being reported across the Commonwealth and our great country and it must be rooted out,” Chase wrote on Facebook.

The actual ACS totals show that the city’s population is 159,428, and that there are 130,253 residents old enough to vote. There are also 112,736 total registered voters in Alexandria (104,859 active registered voters and 7,877 inactive registered voters), according to Angie Maniglia Turner, the city’s general registrar and director of elections.

Turner said that Mayor Wilson’s numbers were correct. She said she was not aware of the claims by Chase or Judicial Watch when ALXnow called. Judicial Watch also posted a statement earlier this month by its President Tom Fitton that, “Joe Biden is not president-elect.”

“I’m not aware of cats or dogs voting or any type of incident,” Turner said. “We had three individuals who cast ballots prior to passing away, but that is not abnormal. At the time their ballots were cast they were active registered voters and their votes were counted.”

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