(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

Read More

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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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Morning Notes

The Loop Opens in Old Town — “The Loop at 215 (located at 215 N. Payne St. in Old Town) is finally open now. The mission is to help companies and individuals ‘work better, be better, and do better.’ The co-working space has a mixture of serviced private offices and open flex workspaces.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Three ACPS Students are National Merit Scholar Finalists — “Earlier this month, the T.C. Williams High School seniors discovered they had all been named National Merit Scholarship semi finalists after outstanding results in the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last October.” [ACPS]

Alexandria Voters Make Eclectic Write-In Choices — “But let’s be honest, you’re reading this to read about the weird votes. Kanye West was the most electable representative of the world of entertainment for Alexandria, receiving 17 votes for President (including one impressively misspelled as ‘Kanye Wert’) and one for Senate. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson received three votes, and Sterling, Virginia’s own Patton Oswalt received one vote for President, as did ‘Babe the Pig.'” [Washingtonian]

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What a week full of news in Alexandria.

With city offices closed due to Veterans Day on Wednesday, there were still a number of big stories.

For the second week in a row, our top story was on a fraudulent mailer that was sent out to a number of residents before election day. In the story, households with Joe Biden signs posted in front yards were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile.

On Monday, we reported the third murder in the city this year. Yousef Tarek Omar, a 23-year-old Texas man, was shot to death in the West End on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 7. Police have released few details of the incident, except the victim’s name, the general time of the incident and that it occurred in the 4800 block of W. Braddock Road.

City Councilwoman Del Pepper announced on Tuesday that she will not seek reelection. Pepper has been on the Alexandria City Council since 1985.

“There’s really not much to say,” Pepper told ALXnow. “There’s a time for everything, and I just felt this was my time. I have enjoyed every minute that I’ve served on the City Council.”

We also covered the city’s recovery plan for parts of the city devastated by the pandemic, and it lists a number of programs and strategies for impacted residents and businesses.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria surpassed 4,500 cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March. The number of fatalities is still 76, and Latino residents have the highest number of infections.

Additionally, our weekly poll got a lot of attention this week. This week we asked about Thanksgiving plans, and 60% of respondents said they were eating at home with their household, 30% are planning a small gathering with at least one guest, and 10% are planning a large gathering of family/friends.

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. BREAKING: 23-Year-Old Shot to Death in City’s Third Murder of the Year
  3. ‘Clyde’s at Mark Center’ and Other Businesses for Sale in Alexandria
  4. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  5. The Waypoint at Fairlington to Break Ground Next Month
  6. Councilwoman Del Pepper Announces She’s Not Running for Reelection
  7. City Council to Consider Publishing Names of Delinquent Real Estate Taxpayers
  8. Upcoming Signage Plan Could Subtly Shape New Potomac Yard Skyline
  9. One Person Injured in West End Carjacking
  10. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  11. Alexandria Surpasses 4,500 Cases of COVID-19, Counts Now Rising at Summer Pace

Have a safe weekend!

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It was a historic week in Alexandria.

Alexandrians overwhelmingly helped reelect U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer, and 80% of voters chose Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden for president over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Out top story this week was election-related. It turns out that before election day several Alexandria households with Joe Biden signs were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile. The Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee advised that anyone who receives such notes should call the police. The police, in turn, are sending along the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, 91 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about election night plans, and 65% of respondents said they were staying home to watch the results, 24% had no eleciton night plans, 10% planned to protest that evening, and 1% were going to an election night event.

School News

Alexandria City Public Schools were back in action this week — sort of. While the ACPS opened in-person classes on Thursday, fewer than 10 students made it to class. There were about 60 students eligible to go back to school, since only kids with kindergarten through second graders with disabilities were allowed to attend Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School.

It was the first in-person public schooling in Alexandria since the pandemic shut down schools in March. ACPS plans to expand opening for all citywide special education students by December. Meanwhile, however, hundreds of parents want the school system to open and have started the #OpenACPS messaging campaign.

Also in school news, a two-year-long court battle was settled with the city and 15 Alexandria homeowners were settled regarding the addition of stadium lights to Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School.

The Week in Crime

The week started with news that there were two shootings in Alexandria over the weekend.

The was also the story of a 17-year-old on the run since last month after allegedly stealing a car in the West End. The juvenile, who later admitted stealing the car, was seen by the victim — a federal law enforcement officer — driving past his house, and the victim got into another of his cars and followed the suspect. The victim got the juvenile out of his car and held him at the scene until police arrived, and the juvenile left the area after being charged.

We also covered the story of the ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’. Freddie Lee McRae, 34, of Washington D.C., pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during a series of bank and shoe store robberies in and around Alexandria in 2018 and 2019. He will be sentenced on February 23, 2021, and faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison.

Health and Business

As of Friday there were 76 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Alexandria, and the case count stands at 4,444, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

We also reported that longtime Del Ray staple, Al’s Steak House, is for sale since the owner passed away.

This week also saw fewer continued and initial unemployment claims in Alexandria.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. Braddock West Project Headed to Planning Commission Later This Year
  5. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  6. Soft Opening for New Chicken Joint in North Old Town Today
  7. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  8. Juvenile Allegedly Steals Car and is Tracked Down by Victim in the West End
  9. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  10. The Alexandria Drive-In Just Kicked Off an Encore Series on Halloween
  11. Did You Know: The Tall Ship Providence Encountered a Ghost Ship in 1777

Have a safe weekend!

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