The Potomac Yard Civic Association sent a questionnaire to all candidates running for the 2018 Primary Election for Alexandria’s Mayor and City Council positions. All candidates were asked the same questions with a request to respond to at least three questions within 250 words. PYCA does not endorse or support any candidates but will update this post as responses are received.
Extensions were granted to Del Pepper and Canek Aguirre.
As of the deadline of June 6th, no response or acknowledgement of receipt was received from Willie Bailey and Robert Ray.
- Potomac Yard Community
With the exception of the Potomac Yard Metrorail, what are the top two or three priorities or concerns you see facing the Potomac Yard community and how will you as a Council member support Potomac Yard resident in resolving those issues?
John Chapman– Restoring civic trust and faith in local government — I am committed to ensuring that resident voices are heard and help shape Alexandria’s future. On Council, I will fight to strengthen Engage Alexandria to get better connect residents to opportunities to contribute their expertise and experience to issues that the city is working to resolve. Furthermore, I have always and will continue to make it a priority to meet directly with residents to hear their concerns and to resolve issue that affect their quality of life.
– Promoting and protecting community safety — On Council, I have and will continue to work closely with the Alexandria Police Department, the Potomac Yard Homeowners Association, and residents to respond to community safety concerns and issues in a timely manner.
– Reducing traffic issues on Route 1 — During my time on Council, I have successfully advocated for the expansion of public transit options and investments in bike and pedestrian infrastructure to reduce traffic along Route 1.Matthew FeelyOne matter of concern regards the costs and benefits associated with the installation of the electric power transmission lines: tree canopy loss, potential exposure to electromagnetic field, distribution of right of way compensation. See answer to question #3.
A second matter regards the insufficient way city government and city council conduct themselves with regard to lack of inclusiveness, lack of transparency, and resultant lack of accountability. The 2551 Main Line Blvd decision-making process illustrates the insufficiency that has affected many aspects of governance involving Potomac Yard (See response to question #4.).
A third problem regards traffic calming and especially pedestrian safety. It would seem to me critical that the elements of Vision Zero be discussed with the community and then placed into effect as soon as possible.Dak HardwickAs a Cameron Station resident who has been in my neighborhood since the the development was being constructed, I have a deep appreciation for many of the challenges Potomac Yard residents experience. Our issue set may have been different, but the experience was no doubt similar. Your Potomac Yard Metro / Dominion underground transmission line was my ethanol transloading facility and asphalt paving plant. These are issues that united the Cameron Station community, made it a neighborhood, and drove many to local activism.
Outside of the Metro and the underground transmission line, which is addressed below, I do believe Potomac Yard residents will face construction disruption and cut-through traffic challenges over the next few years. As a member of Council, I would concentrate my energies on minimizing the disruption as much as possible, whether it’s through negotiation of haul routes for construction vehicles, additional enforcement to limit cut-through traffic, implementation of city-wide policies that allow for cut-through traffic mitigation that can be applied to Potomac Yard residents, or other quality of life measures. Even though these are some basic measures, I would look to the community to offer additional ideas or recommendations that would further enhance the living experience in Potomac Yard.Chris HubbardTwo issues are traffic and getting the complete mix of uses for a sustainable community. As an expert in walkable mixed use sustainable neighborhoods I will support traffic calming and throughput where needed through best practices. Further I will support getting the complete mix of uses to have a vibrant and economically sustainable neighborhood: including mix of housing types and income, mixed retail, office, restaurants for a live, work,play, eat, sleep, learn neighborhood. School site should be there as well as playing fields -will see. Also we should have LEED certified buildings as well as roof gardens where possible to be the most environmentally friendly Neighborhood. We also need rich human scaled street walls throughout the Neighborhood as per the promise of Old Town and Del Ray. I won’t support less than best practices in these areas.Amy JacksonMy concerns, other than the Potomac Yard Metrorail, revolve around the livability factor of that area. We have built housing near shops and restaurants that might be torn down and rebuilt for Amazon if we win that bid. The whole purpose of building that housing there was to create a walkable environment and decrease traffic congestion. So, my concern is when Council creates a long-range vision, the methods to acquire it and implement it become scattered and decisions become murky and not communicated to the public effectively or efficiently. Box stores were built to be torn down for other avenues of revenue, but the people living there are forgotten. The traffic patterns are off-kilter and increasing time and frustration for commuters in the area, but nothing is being done to alleviate it. I intend to support a sustainable livable, walkable space in that area, and once we make that decision, we need to see it through. We have to work together and our citizens need to be aware of the details and engaged throughout the process.Elizabeth Bennett-ParkerOutside of the Metro station and the Dominion 230 kV transmission line, the primary issue I see is development. Whether it is ensuring that development plans are not far afield of what current residents were led to believe would occur, or that development plans in progress make sense with changes to the Metro station, the City owes it to Potomac Yard residents to clearly communicate plans and be conscientious about what it approves.Del PepperTwo concerns I have are the quality of future development (architecture and street landscaping) and getting the mixed use development that we have been looking for. I urge the civic association to stay involved. I will be listening closely to their comments and concerns as I am voting for policies and plans that concern them.Mo SeifeldeinWhile not all people in the same community face the same concerns, there are major ones that most residents are concerned with such as traffic, public transit, parking, taxes, and
development. In short, livability and a responsive transparent government. The most important role in addressing these issues is listening to the residents and being transparent with them about the future plans and the likelihood of addressing the issues along with other needs in the City. Residents should expect a voice and an ear on Council if I’m elected.Allison SilberbergI think the major concerns that I see facing the Potomac Yard community are: 1) the disruption and inconvenience that will result from major construction projects in your community. The construction of the Metro Station and the Dominion 230kV line will certainly pose challenges to mobility and quality of life. I pledge to work closely with your Civic Association to ensure full compliance with construction permits. I have already been very outspoken about night construction and hours of work. 2) As we have seen with the recent changes to the Metro Station, transparency is a major issue, and it is a top priority for me. Throughout my term as Mayor, I have worked hard to increase civic engagement and transparency. I am proud to have encouraged the creation of your Civic Association and honored to have attended its inaugural meeting. I will keep those lines of communication open in the coming years. 3) We must ensure that input from the Potomac Yard community is properly heard in the planning and zoning process as new projects come forward for approval. The 380% increase in density that was approved last fall serves as a warning for the need for more civic engagement by all residents of Potomac Yard. I was the lone dissenting vote on that project. I have been working to ensure that community input is factored into any decisions. As always, I welcome your input, and I am here to help.Paul SmedbergI think the neighborhood impact of the ongoing build out of Potomac Yard (PY), the possible construction of the 230 Kv line and organizing as a community are the three top priorities I see for the Potomac Yard neighborhood. As a member of Council, I will take the same approach to tackling these issues as I have done for other neighborhoods facing similar challenges. The first step would be to establish a PY task force that would serve as the voice of residents and work collaboratively with City staff. This task force would be organized and managed by the appropriate City staff (with input from Potomac Yard residents) . One example of this kind of group is the current Waterfront Commission, which originally was the Waterfront Work group. This group – which I co-chaired with a resident – was extremely successful, collaborative, productive and helpful in addressing the Waterfront Plan and the numerous issues facing the neighborhood and City.Justin WilsonI would suggest the largest issue impacting Potomac Yard over the next decade will be “managing change” and preventing that change from adversely impacting the quality of life of existing and future residents. Between the Metro Construction, the potential 230KV transmission line construction, the development of North Potomac Yard, and the potential development impacts of efforts to the north (Arlington), there is a substantial amount of change coming to Potomac Yard. Government has the responsibility to manage and sequence this work to prevent major impacts.
The second priority for Potomac Yard must be municipal infrastructure. While the fire station is important, we will need additional infrastructure to support the growing community. There are two properties set aside in the Yard for potential school sites. While there is not an immediate need, an appropriate interim use will need to be sought for one of the properties when it becomes available in a few years. I would hope to engage the community in determining that future use.Kevin DunneIn my opinion, Potomac Yard faces two additional key issues aside from the metro station. The first concerns development patterns and the effective communication of such plans by the city to residents upfront. The second concern is parking availability.
I believe the first concern is more serious because it speaks to a basic lack of awareness and respect of resident voices in the process of development. To fix this disconnect between what is said and what is done, we need teeth in our development plans (by exploring adoption of these plans into our city charter), with such plans being community, not developer, driven.
On the issue of parking, I believe growth in density can only accentuate congestion issues. While Alexandria needs to grow, and hence, requires development, we need leadership attentive to the concerns of residents on parking issues. Sudden reductions or expansions of parking are encouraged only at the risk of poor signaling to residents and developers. This is to no one’s benefit.
- Potomac Yard Metrorail
We believe that the City of Alexandria has handled the removal of the Southern Entrance of the Potomac Yard Metrorail poorly. If you are a member of Council, how will you ensure the
southern access via the bridge to the North Entrance at the inauguration of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station? What steps will you take to ensure the future construction of the full south mezzanine, ramp and entrance? How long do you anticipate that process taking?
John ChapmanAs the Potomac Yard Metrorail is constructed, it is essential that Council work closely with residents, WMATA, and other key stakeholders to develop a plan for the construction and funding as well as a timeline for the future construction of the the southern entrance. We must learn from the missteps of the previous process and enhance government accountability, transparency, and engagement with the community moving forward so that future construction serves the needs of residents and is aligned with the initial vision for Potomac Yard.Matthew FeelyI agree that the removal of the southern entrance has been handled poorly – largely because of the matters discussed in response to question #4 (below).
As a candidate for city council, I do not have access to the detailed engineering plans, or the associated costs for the (altered and reduced) Metrorail station, or for the variations referred to in the question. It is impossible for me to claim that I could ensure either (1) the southern access via the bridge to the North Entrance at the inauguration of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station or (2) the future construction of the full south mezzanine, ramp and entrance.
Current members of city council seem certain that escalated costs prohibit a southern access in the near term, while promising – vaguely – southern access at some unspecified time. The overwhelming factor in refusing to specify a time frame for southern access has everything to do with increased costs. Yet, I am doubtful that city council has studied costs enough to be certain that the quoted costs are legitimate, or that the escalated costs are prohibitive.
I can suggest – for now – that it would seem sensible to require that the escalated, quoted costs that have apparently driven the decision to eliminate the south mezzanine, the south ramp and entrance, be reviewed by an independent engineering firm. I think that it would also make sense to see how the costs would be affected if the location of the future station were moved southward, away from the terrain that would need considerable backfill to allow for the station to be built in its current planned location.Dak HardwickI want to be able to tell you that there is a path to getting that second entrance by 2022- but the practical realities of engineering, design, and financial planning make it unlikely. We lost nearly an entire year once that descoping occurred last July. As a long-time Potomac Yard Metro supporter, I hate it just as much as you. But the hard, unfortunate truth is that we can’t get that time back. However, if the entrance is under construction (dirt is actually being moved) by 2022 (or preferably before), then that’s real progress. And here are the practical steps that we need to take to get to that point:
1. The second entrance needs to be inserted into the City’s 10-year capital improvement program (CIP) budget immediately as a separate project for consideration in the next cycle. If it’s not in the budget, it’s not real. We have to make it real by putting it in the CIP budget. That also allows us to start pursuing additional funding opportunities (not just city dollars) to help alleviate the cost and identify it as a community priority for those we”ll need to ask for help outside of Alexandria (see below).
2. We need to leverage our relationships with Governor Northam to get the Commonwealth involved in the project, especially in negotiating with CSX. They can be enormously helpful with CSX in getting them to table to help accelerate the construction. I maintain connections with the Governor’s office for exactly situations like this.
3. We need to get the Virginia Secretary of Transportation (Shannon Valentine) and Secretary of Finance (Aurbey Layne) engaged. I know both of them. They are key state actors that need to be brought into the loop in order to help secure funding and help with outside parties. We need them to be advocates, especially as we have to deal with WMATA.
4. We need to add this to our Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) list and work to get it ranked high among the other competing projects in the region. Further, we need to work with the Commonwealth to get some of the NVTA funds restored (the Commonwealth robbed Peter to pay Paul when it provided dedicated funding for WMATA).
5 . We need to get Senators Warner and Kaine and Congressman Beyer involved. The biggest barrier to timely progress of this entire project has been the National Park Service. We need to get our Federal representatives involved in the advocacy with that agency (to get accelerated approvals) . Moreover, we need their help with whatever environmental approvals will be needed now that the descoping has occurred. I’m hopeful that extensive environmental study won’t be necessary, but it’s not something we can’t take for granted. We need to avoid a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the south entrance to even get close to the 2022 date.
6 . We need to emphasize that construction needs to be as *concurrent* as possible and not *sequential* with the north entrance. We need to start the second entrance project construction while the north entrance is under construction. That could shorten the construction timeline and minimize disruptions at the construction site.Chris HubbardI would push toward a north dogleg entrance to come to the same point on the south as the original design or re-looking at getting south entrance back in the proposal. Alternatively getting the south entrance later which risks investment, higher cost and complications – I will sponsor or co-sponsor a bill to get the south entrance finished literally ASAP.Amy JacksonI agree. We need to make this happen. I cannot imagine how many building permits, housing decisions, business decisions were made based on the fact at the time that there was going to be a Southern Entrance, and Council has known since last July?! Our citizens were basing their future decisions on inaccurate information. Unacceptable. I do not have an answer about the amount of time for the process, but I would like it enacted swiftly.Elizabeth Bennett-ParkerI am not going to give you a made-up timeline for when the future construction of the full south mezzanine, ramp and entrance will occur, especially when that project is dependent on many variables – primarily at present, finding the funding. What I can tell you is that after this whole debacle, the City Council owes Potomac Yard dogged determination in ensuring there is no further delay in building the station and that the station is as close as possible to what was originally promised. First, I want to explore ways that the Dominion transmission line funding can be used to ensure southern access and work with City staff to find other funding avenues to support construction of the full southern entrance, including additional funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, as soon as possible. Second, I have found in life that being the squeakiest wheel can be the best strategy to getting things done, and so I will make sure the Council and City staff are in regular communication with WMATA to ensure the City and WMATA are doing everything possible to ensure southern access at the opening of the station in 2022. Given the overall state of Metro’s funding, all the extra resources that are having to go into updating the rail system and other infrastructure projects in our area, and seemingly ever-increasing construction costs, there will be challenges and the full southern entrance may take more time than anyone wants it to. But I can at least promise that I will make sure the process is transparent to the Potomac Yards community so you are not faced with further surprises in the ongoing Metro station saga.Del PepperIt is the City’s (and my) plan to complete the metrorail and that means the constructing the southern access. As we begin the final stages of building the northern access, we need to begin planning for the southern access—the full south mezzanine, ramp and entrance.Mo SeifeldeinThe City has handled the Southern Entrance issue poorly. Should residents reward incumbents by re-electing them? The City needs to move forward with plans to complete the Southern Entrance immediately after the current project is complete. Completion of the first project should be contingent upon funding the Southern Entrance. It would be irresponsible and dishonest of me to claim that I know how long this process will take before consulting the experts and projects planners. However, I do think we need to tackle it right away and not punt it
down the road like the City did with the sewer system.Allison SilberbergAs I have stated in recent weeks, I am committed to building the Southern Entrance of the Potomac Yard Metro Station as soon as possible. We have been told that it is not possible to add the Southern Entrance to the station construction at this time because the entire project would be delayed. I am pushing for the Council to commit to a plan to build the Southern Entrance immediately after the station is complete. I have proposed using the $29 million from the Dominion transmission line to help fund the Southern Entrance.
I will continue to urge my colleagues to commit to this restoration of the Southern Entrance. Realistically, even with good advance planning, and given how long these complex projects can take, I think it would be 2023/2024 before we could expect the Southern Entrance to be completed.Paul SmedbergTo the extent that there is Council consensus to proceed with ensuring the Southern access I would direct the Manager to proceed with a study of the possible design to create the bridge. I would gladly support such an undertaking financially and in addition I would encourage METRO to work with the City by assisting with the necessary engineering information and specifications required during the construction of the station. In other words, we need to make sure the station platform and any close by structure has the necessary materials and strength to handle a second entrance bridge. I have no idea how long such a process would take but I imagine no less than 18 months to two years. Some factors influencing a time line are National Park Service requirements and likely significant security and construction specifications by NS and CSX (railroads) due to the proximity of the Metro station and tracks to the railroads infrastructure and right-of-way conveyances. I am also working on possible funding options but this will be a challenge because the PY Metro Project has already received so many grants from various funding sources, which we are trying to protect because the station has taken so long to get to this point.One thing I think could go a long way in regaining some PY community trust is convening a community meeting to discuss the PY Metro Station situation and possible next steps. We did something like this when I first joined Council and I/we had to immediately deal with the Norfolk Southern Ethanol Transfer Station situation in the West-End of the City.Justin WilsonI will work to ensure that there is connectivity between the northern mezzanine and where the southern entrance would have been. That will be one of the first directions provided to the new Design/Build firm once they are under contract.
Once the station is open we will work to determine the need, cost and options for additional access on the south. It would be premature to make commitments around the additional entrance without having an idea of the cost and a funding mechanism.Kevin DunneI believe the present city plan to provide a path from the former south entrance to the north entrance remains the only viable option for Alexandria in the short term. With revenue from development in north Potomac uncertain for macro-economic reasons, I am concerned about WMATA’s ability to execute the project successfully if the city should wait too long.
A designated south entrance requires a strong financial footing on the project (which the city currently lacks) notwithstanding the legitimate grievances of residents about the way the elimination of the southern entrance was handled. I would therefore ensure every effort to facilitate convenient access to the north entrance in the short term and fulfill our implicit liabilities in the medium to long-term by reinstating another entrance in the future.
The city has not been vocal enough in its relationship with WMATA (who ultimately chooses contractors at its own discretion, and not always at the city’s pleasure). It is important we increase pressure on WMATA to perform to expectation for our residents with this project and with the impending 3-month shutdown of the metro next summer.
- Dominion Underground Transmission Lines
Potomac Avenue was selected as the least objectionable route for the Dominion 230 kV transmission line, resulting in an anticipated payment of $43.3M to the City, of which approximately $29M remains uncommitted. Do you feel it appropriate that the money be reinvested into the Potomac Yard Community? If so, what, if any decision-making would you envision the community having?
John ChapmanI believe the money should be invested in the priorities of Potomac Yard community members. To ensure that community is an active participant in the decision making process, I would recommend the creation of an advisory commission with representation from Potomac Yard residents, business owners, and other stakeholders. Additionally, I would recommend that the City adopt a participatory budgeting process to increase transparency and empower residents to decide how funds should be allocated.Matthew FeelyOriginally, the CSX Track Option was the option that Alexandria defined as the least objectionable… until negotiations between Dominion and CSX revealed an increase in costs to ≈$420M. The city willingly redefined the “least objectionable” option to be the Potomac Avenue Option, previously thought to have been the 2nd least objectionable.
It appears that the lower cost (≈$330M) of the Potomac Avenue Option made it more attractive to Dominion. It also appears that the city accepted the plan to lay cable along Potomac Avenue, in part, because of the increase in the right of way compensation for the city from ≈$14.6M for the CSX Option to ≈$43.3M for the Potomac Avenue Option.
Given that the residents of Potomac Yard will bear the inconvenience (and whatever risks posed by electro-magnetic fields, though likely minimal) associated with the three year project, it seems reasonable that current and future residents of Potomac Yard should receive a majority share of the offered compensation. I would have to study the various proposed uses of the monies before I could be confident of the exact monies that ought to be reinvested into the Potomac Yard Community, but it does seem reasonable that the city ought to compensate those bearing the majority of the costs with the lion’s share of the compensation monies received.Dak HardwickGiven that Potomac Yard residents will be the most impacted by the construction of the underground transmission line, focusing the uncommitted funds in the Potomac Yard area would be appropriate. I would welcome resident input on how those funds should be expended. For the sake of transparency, as a strong education advocate with a focus on building and renovating our city school facilities, I would consider using some of those funds to possibly add additional school capacity in that part of Alexandria. Some of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Alexandria are in and around the Potomac Yard area and we need to sure that our school infrastructure is keeping pace with our population growth.Chris HubbardNo response received.
Amy JacksonI honestly need to study this concern more in order to give you a completely honest answer and solution to this question.Elizabeth Bennett-ParkerGiven that the Potomac Yard community has to deal with the less convenient route of running along Potomac Avenue instead of the CSX line and all the attendant construction hassles that will go with that, it is fair that the remaining uncommitted funds be reinvested in Potomac Yard. While it is ultimately up to the City Council to decide how to appropriate City funds, every effort should be made to engage the Potomac Yard community to find out its priorities, and for the Council to be guided by any community consensus that emerges. In particular, before the funds are appropriated, I would like to see a community listening session with either Council members or staff, and of course, a Council hearing where the public can comment.Del PepperI am hopeful that the Potomac Yard Civic Association will definitely have meaningful input to the spending of the $29 million that is uncommitted.Mo SeifeldeinCommunity involvement is very important and I have spoken publicly about given the people impacted the most by a decision a say on the matter. Just as the BID would have impacted some more than others, it was appropriate to listen to those most impacted. The Dominion Transmission Line is similar in that it’s going through certain area. I envision that some of the money can be used to tackle the resident’s needs with consideration of other urgent needs in the City.Allison SilberbergI believe that the $29 million of uncommitted funds from Dominion should absolutely be reinvested in the Potomac Yard community. I have proposed using the $29 million from the Dominion transmission line to help fund the Southern Entrance, but I am open to hearing other suggestions for the use of these funds from the community if this is not the top priority of Potomac Yard residents.Paul SmedbergI do believe that the majority of those dollars could be reinvested into the Potomac Yard Community with the caveat that your community is a part of the City and some of the dollars might appropriately be invested in City services and infrastructure that enhance the quality of life for many residents and in other areas. Please be mindful of the fact that other neighborhoods will also be impacted by the possible 230kV line construction project. Specifically, areas in and around the Potomac Greens and North Old Town neighborhoods will also be impacted. I would seek input and guidance on recommendations from members of the Potomac Yard Work Group (see my answer to Question #1) and other neighborhood associations as to the expenditure of any dollars to enhance your/our community.Justin WilsonYes, I have proposed creating an advisory committee made up of community members adjacent to the impacted right-of-way to prioritize the use of the uncommitted 230KV transmission line payment.
I believe that the money should be spent in the areas impacted by the line.
Kevin DunneA share of this funding should always go to the area for which the project has an impact. Additionally, I would like to see greater discretionary authority of such resources for use by residents than what is currently afforded in existing planning processes between local and municipal planning bodies. The more localized our distribution of resources is, the greater positive impact local knowledge has on investment.
- Transparency and Accountability of City processes
There is a perception, that the City of Alexandria lacks transparency and accountability. As a Council Member, what would you do to regain and build trust within the Potomac Yard
John ChapmanEngaging Alexandrians and restoring trust in the government is one of my top priorities. We have one of the most educated and diverse electorates in the region. A thriving Alexandria depends on engaging each of those voices collectively in solving the most pressing issues facing our city, including preserving affordable housing, investing in quality education, and promoting small business development. To build trust, I will fight to strengthen Engage Alexandria to get better connect residents to opportunities to contribute their expertise and experience to issues that the city is working to resolve. I will actively work with City staff to ensure that residents of the Potomac Yard community are aware of board and commission vacancies as well as other opportunities to engage in City processes.Matthew FeelyI believe that the perception is well-founded; perception and reality have merged. Alexandria’s city government lacks transparency and accountability… and inclusiveness. The shroud of secrecy surrounding the Potomac Yard Metrorail station exemplifies the lack of transparency. The condominium development bait and switch at 2551 Main Line Blvd represents the lack of inclusiveness (as well as transparency). The lack of transparency and inclusiveness assure a lack of accountability.
Lost trust is difficult, but not impossible to recover. City council and city staff must acknowledge that they must be trustworthy so as to legitimately regain the trust of Alexandrians. Trustworthiness is, in turn, dependent upon city government showing: (1) competence, (2) integrity and (3) shared values with the people of Alexandria.
I do not doubt the competence of city staff or of city manager or of city council. Nor do I think that there is necessarily a lack of integrity within those bodies. But given the loss of trust that I am sure exists, it is imperative for city government to increase transparency and inclusiveness so that Alexandrians can determine with an uncluttered view, whether city government has competence and integrity. I also think that transparency and inclusiveness are themselves values that Alexandrians hold dear, so by increasing those attributes, city government would exhibit that it shares at least some values with Alexandrians.
The question then comes down to determining ways to enhance transparency and inclusiveness. Here are some ideas that I think are worthwhile.
– Strengthen the code of conduct and ethics pledge council members must sign onto;
– Ensure civic engagement occurs prior to when the relevant votes are taken;
– Increase the exposure of city council to greater numbers of Alexandrians by holding town halls and by conducting city council meetings in multiple locations throughout the city, not just at City Hall;
– Consider including an inspector general or an ethics ombudsman to ensure that all city government members adhere to the aforementioned ethics code;
– Provide leadership training which emphasizes organizational behavior as a part of enhancing a culture that understands the need for and then reflects transparency, inclusiveness, and values-based leadership.Dak HardwickResidents of Alexandria should expect that their government is predictable, efficient and transparent and, as a member of Council, those are the principles of governing that will guide my decision-making and service. As an aspiring member of Council, I have worked hard to be open and transparent with community members as I sought their vote and will continue to be so if elected. Regaining trust and building good will starts with personal relationships. As part of this campaign, I spent time in Potomac Yard meeting neighbors, attending meet and greets, and listening to resident concerns. Since I don’t live in Potomac Yard, it’s been important for me to get to know your neighborhood as much as I can. If elected, you can expect to see more of me in order to stay close to the issues and concerns in Potomac Yard, especially given the ongoing transition you’re experiencing in your neighborhood.
Regarding the implementation of city policy priorities by the City Manager and city staff, I strongly believe the Manager and staff should be implementing Council’s policy directions, given the Council’s election by the citizens of Alexandria. I would personally favor a scorecard-style implementation measure that can quickly assess the implementation of Council’s policies so the Council, city staff, and residents know the progress we’re making on our priorities. That is an effective, transparent tool for measuring our progress.
Finally, I would be in favor of reviewing the city’s openness and transparency policies and procedures to ensure we’re gaining the trust of the residents. Once that review is complete and there are opportunities to expand our transparency efforts, I would be supportive of those efforts.Chris HubbardThe City Manager and Staff would work with the Council to serve the residents. I would remind the Council of their first obligation is to the residents. I would hold the city accountable to best practices as I have been held responsible as a professional architect, planner and New Urbanist for 27 years. Further, I would ensure in dealing with developers and WMATA and others that the residents are our first priorities. I will reject any agreement which puts the residents in the dark as this Potomac Yards situation did.Amy JacksonAll of the Council’s decisions are large for someone. The issues of transparency, communication, and successful planning are lacking in our city and throughout our civic engagement process. When elected to Council, I intend to work toward bridging those gaps and attaining successful results – Potomac Yard is one of my priorities. Communication and civic engagement is key to our success as a city.Elizabeth Bennett-ParkerI agree that the Council needs to work on rebuilding trust within the Potomac Yard community, and the best way to do that is to increase communication. For large matters like the Metro Station and development projects, the Potomac Yard Civic Association should be alerted to matters coming up before the Council and the Council should seek out residents’ views before voting. If there is ever a future situation where the City is concerned about violating a contractual non-disclosure agreement by communicating with City residents, it has to find a way around that issue. I will make every effort going forward to ensure the City is never again facing a contractual prohibition on discussing important community matters with residents. I will make myself available to attend PYCA meetings and discuss City Council matters with residents and I will make sure City staff are reaching out to the PYCA and residents on important livability matters. As part of overall efforts to increase transparency and accountability across the City, I plan to hold more informal coffees to talk with residents about their concerns and about what the City is doing to serve them.Del PepperTransparency and accountability are very important to me and to the community. The Potomac Yard metrorail process could definitely been handled better. I’m hopeful that there are lessons learnedMo SeifeldeinI intend to be an ear and a voice to the residents of Alexandria. As an attorney, I can’t solve any issues If I don’t listen and see a problem from different perspectives. I think visiting the civic association meetings and hearing the concerns personally outside of Council Chamber is a good example. Being transparent with residents even if the decision or outcome is not favorable to them. Communication is the key. Indeed, the residents would need to determine if the current Council has been transparent and accountable. In a democracy, we live with who we elect (see Current Administration 45).Allison SilberbergThe way things have unfolded with the Potomac Yard Metro Station and the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is difficult to fathom. I had thought that all of Council had learned about the removal of the Southern Entrance when I did this spring. We now know otherwise due to the emails obtained through the FOIA request by Potomac Yard residents. I am reading these emails for the first time along with the public. We had been told repeatedly about the parameters of the NDA, and in recent days the emails have indicated a different reality. I am absolutely committed to increasing transparency and accountability. I share your frustration regarding this process. As I have stated, I am fully committed to building the Southern Entrance as soon as the station is completed, and I have been urging my colleagues to join me in this commitment. It is the right thing to do, and it will make the station more successful for all concerned. More broadly, we must change the process of any future projects to ensure that there is greater transparency for both the Council and the public.Paul SmedbergI sincerely regret that this is perceived by any residents of Alexandria for I know that perceptions are often what are construed as fact. I believe that as a member of Council the City must regain the trust of the community in order to create a productive relationship and we can do that through a number of methods. I would encourage and advise members of the Potomac Yard community actively engage with the City through service on Boards, Commissions, and task forces. As a member of Council I will seek to assure that there is representation from your community on Boards, Commissions, and task forces. I intend to continue meeting with residents from Potomac Yard when asked and willingly urge you to pick up your phone and call me when you need clarification or information. Yours is a new neighborhood and issues such as you are facing today will create a civic responsiveness among the residents that will stand you in good stead in the future. For anyone who has followed Council proceedings will know, I have long called for new ways of presenting projects and issues to the City and its residents with a particular outreach and communications.Justin WilsonI have been focused on improving the transparency of City government throughout my time on City Council. I have worked to increase the amount of information available online about City activities, financial interests, campaign fundraising, and executive sessions.
As I mentioned during the contentious approval of the Main Line Blvd multi-family building, we have work to do in improving policies and procedures in fast-growing neighborhoods. Our policies simply were not created to accommodate the enormous change that can occur even within a calendar year in communities experiencing significant development and redevelopment.
It is the job of the City Manager to implement the vision of the Council. I do believe the Council can do a better job of articulating that vision and the priorities. Our strategic plan is bulky, unfocused and does not help drive strategic decision making. As Mayor, I would work to adopt COUNCIL work plans to ensure that our policy work is scheduled and aligned with existing STAFF work plans.Kevin DunneOne of the major platforms of my campaign is a dedication to rebuilding trust with residents. This requires that we make every decision related to development as transparent as possible; we cannot simply advertise meetings, but city leadership needs to mobilize the community with understanding the impact various meetings and administrative and council decisions have on community development. For example, I’d like to see a bigger advocacy role by council to mobilize the major civic associations in Alexandria. I think the more committed we are to influential civic leadership outside of government, the more competitive our decision-making will be, and the better our decisions will become.
John ChapmanEnsuring that residents are actively engaged in the decision making is essential to maintain good governance and accountability. Additionally, I will work with the City Manager and staff to leverage technology to better communicate not only how and when decision are made but how residents can engage in the process from start to finish.Matthew FeelyGiven my belief that “good governance” is analogous to trustworthy governance, the prescriptions that I suggested in the preceding paragraphs pertain to this question.Dak HardwickAnswer combined in response to previous question.
Chris HubbardAnswer combined in response to previous question.
Amy JacksonWe have to work together and our citizens need to be aware of the details throughout the process. The City Manager and City Staff keep the wheels moving in Alexandria. They are the business leads and Council is the policy and guiding factors of that business. There is no doubt we all need to work together to ensure that what is right for Alexandria and its citizens is being done effectively and efficiently. Good governance is creating and maintaining trust with our citizenry, and following through on the swift process for successful results. Planning takes time, but missed opportunities and skyrocketing costs have hindered our city. We need to have a more transparent process – inside City Hall and within our civic engagement process.Elizabeth Bennett-ParkerThe City Manager and staff should have a close working relationship with City Council. With every vote by the Council and every project City staff are directed to work on, we have to ask if residents have been made aware of what the City is doing, if they have been given an opportunity to weigh-in, and if the City has taken resident feedback into account. If the City cannot point to multiple ways in which residents could learn of its actions and opportunities to contribute their feedback, then the City is doing something wrong. I will make sure we are communicating with Civic Associations and other groups representing residents across the City to make sure residents are made aware of matters that will have big impacts on their communities. I also want to engage these groups in-person regularly to make sure that residents can access me and hold me accountable for my votes.Del PepperAnswer combined in response to previous question.Mo SeifeldeinRelationship with the City Manager and Staff should be civil, professional, and with respect to each sides expertise. All parties must communicate with each other in implementing the best policies for Alexandria. The Council should hold the City Manager and Staff accountable and the residents should hold the Council Accountable so there are checks and balances on our local government. The best way to achieve Alexandria’s best interest is to communicate, be transparent, and be open to input from all interested parties. An example would be to have hearing and send appropriate notices to all interested parties to share their concerns. For example, what purpose did tax meal hearing serve after the meal tax passed? A therapy session? Council has the power and authority to set these matters early on as part of its diligence process.Allison SilberbergAnswer combined in response to previous question.
Paul SmedbergThe City Manager/Council form of government is one that has stood Alexandria in good stead for decades. Maintaining the proper balance between City Manager and Council depends on many factors. A good City Manager hires staff that respect and appreciate the parameters of their positions and the relationship involved with carrying out the policy priorities of the Council. The Council does not micromanage the staff but in turn must insist on transparency, clarity, and open dialogue. I can assure you that this current Council has consistently called for transparency in all areas of governance and if we have failed we will redouble our efforts!Emphasizes a point I made above — One thing I think could go a long way in regaining some of that trust is convening a community meeting to discuss the PY Metro Station situation and next steps. We did something like this when I first joined Council and I/we had to immediately deal with the Norfolk Southern Ethanol Transfer Station situation in the West-End of the City.Justin WilsonAnswer combined in response to previous question.
Kevin DunneFinally, I believe that Alexandria should elect leadership that is willing to closely supervise and control the actions of its bureaucracy. This control is the definition of accountability. The city manager needs to keep strict account of the actions of his subordinates and relay accurate and accountable information to city leadership, so that the public can adjudicate issues and assess failures by proxy through an involved city council. Government holding itself accountable is a recipe for failure, and this is what our current city has done.
What special qualities, experiences, knowledge or qualifications will you bring to the City Council? Or is there anything else you would like to share with the Potomac Yard residents?John ChapmanAs a fourth generation Alexandrian, I have watched the city grow and change bring history and a perspective unlike anyone else in the field. I worked my way from public housing to homeownership. As a small business owner, I know first hand how challenging it is to open and maintain a business in the City and want to remove those barriers to create a thriving commercial tax base. Having spent my career in education, I am committed to expanding access to Pre-K education & out of school education opportunities to support academic enrichment as well as social and emotional learning. Over the past two terms, I have achieved results for the community. If re-elected, I will keep fighting for world-class schools, housing that is affordable, and economic opportunity so everyone can live, work, and enjoy the unique and vibrant culture of Alexandria.Matthew FeelyThe most obvious “quality” I would bring city council is my pledge to work as a full time, not part-time council member. So, some of the “quality” I represent is analogous to the quantity of hours I am willing and able to spend, to delve deeply into understanding and designing solutions for the problems at hand. I have taken leave from my position as a professor so that I can concentrate fully on the matters that affect the people, neighborhoods, and businesses of Alexandria. The challenges that the city faces coupled with my belief that city council should act like the board of directors (and therefore be the “questioners in chief”) merits full-time attention to the challenges we confront.
I would also bring significant experience making sense out of confusion. In my career as a naval officer, I was assigned to multiple positions where I had to work in highly fluid, unpredictable and high stakes situations. I have learned how to assess complex situations and design solutions for problems identified. These experiences, coupled with a robust academic background as a scholar of risk management and decision sciences and professor of crises leadership and leadership decision-making, have helped me to develop a knowledge base applicable to the problems that the city faces – problems that are complex and nuanced, but that are ultimately solvable.Dak HardwickEven though I am a new candidate for City Council, my service to Alexandria spans a decade. I’m proud of my record of service in this city, whether as president of my civic association, president of the New Hope Housing board of directors, chair of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, or chair of the city’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee. I also led the local Democratic committee for a term and successfully advanced progressive values by supporting candidates here in the city as well as statewide, and built important relationships that I maintain to this day. Through all of those organizations, we’ve made great progress on serving my neighborhood, ending veteran homelessness,
supporting our small businesses, and ensuring the long-term health of the city. I hope to continue that
record of accomplishment as a member of Council.Chris HubbardI am an architect, planner, New Urbanist (Charter/accredited member of the Congress for the New Urbanism – a think tank to improve Urban conditions ), principal and owner of an architecture and planning firm for 27 years, leading developers on walkable mixed use neighborhoods and transit oriented development in Arlington Va where they have a sustainable/balanced interaction with developers.
In addition, I want to use my 27 year expertise in architecture/planning/development to reform Development in Alexandria to do projects like Potomac Yards and Landmark right the first time to make walkable complete mixed use neighborhoods. When we work with developers we want to get compensation for burdens on the City for Transportation, Schools, affordable housing and playing fields.Amy JacksonAs a woman, wife, mother, educator, and Alexandrian, I know the will and strength it takes to advocate for a cause, commit to an intended resolution, and follow that commitment through to its desired, successful result. Our citizens need a fresh perspective when resolving our City’s concerns. Have been on many boards, committees, and commissions in Alexandria, I bring experience of advocating for important City programs and beliefs, effectively communicating the needs of our citizens to city officials, negotiating strategic policy in motivated coalitions, spearheading program implementation, and forging collective partnerships with commissions and boards, city agencies, and non-profits in our community – all ensuring a brighter future for Alexandria. Potomac Yard is a priority. We have missed too many opportunities on so many levels of that area of the city. It is time to rework the status quo of “hurry up and wait” in that area, and bring results – with revenue – to Potomac Yard. If you would like more information about my platform priorities, please visit www.AmyJacksonVA.comThank you!Elizabeth Bennett-ParkerI am a small business creator and a non-profit leader. Born in Alexandria to two Naval officers, I am dedicated to serving my community. I help lead Together We Bake, a nonprofit job training and personal development program for women in need. I am the founder of Fruitcycle, a business fighting the tragic paradox that, while one in six Americans experience food-insecurity on a daily basis, 40% of our food is thrown into landfills.
As a small business owner, I’ve made tough decisions to balance a budget and created innovative solutions to problems in our community. As a nonprofit leader, I’ve built coalitions, collaborated, and figured out ways to do more with less.
I was appointed by the Alexandria City Council to serve on the Community Criminal Justice Board and also serve on the boards of Agenda:Alexandria, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, and the Alexandria Regional Council for the United Way.
I am a former Fulbright Fellow and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University.Del PepperI have extensive knowledge of the City and strong connections with the residents. I try to be accessible, available, and a good listener. I understand the Potomac Yard Community’s concerns and sense of loss and will work with them to address it.Mo SeifeldeinI would bring to the Council many needed experiences, skills, and qualifications. First,
before becoming a lawyer, I worked as a mental health counselor. The experience and
educational background allow me to work well with different personalities and groups and most importantly see beyond the decision and examine the rational. I own a small business and it is
my full-time job. Being a small business owner allows me to see the needs of small businesses when decision are made by Council and how they will be impacted. Ninety percent of Virginia’s economy is based on small business and having someone on Council with actual first-hand experience will be beneficial to the City. The business experience also brings with it many managerial and fiscal skills that Council will benefit from. As an attorney, I handled litigation cases from Federal Court to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which requires diligence and planning ahead. As a lawyer, I work with small business owners. I have worked as a court-appointed-attorney in criminal matters, so I’m familiar with public safety and the intersection of accountability and protecting the community. I also handled consumer protection cases and immigration cases, protecting the most impacted communities. I’m a mentor and participate in the T.C. Williams senior experience program. Hard work, dedication, empathy, leadership, community service, and expertise are all tools that I will bring to Council.Allison SilberbergIf re-elected for a second term, I would plan to continue serving as a full-time Mayor. I will continue to be accessible to residents, and I am a very good listener. As always, I welcome your input. I believe strongly that government must be for the people. City Hall must never be separate from the people. City Hall is the people. For the past six years, I have hosted a monthly coffee where residents join me and discuss any ideas, concerns, and issues they may have. I have a positive working relationship with the leadership of the Potomac Yard Civic Association, and I look forward to working with all of Potomac Yard’s residents to help you create a more vibrant sense of community and ensure a great quality of life.Paul SmedbergI have served on the Council for 5 terms and throughout my tenure I have worked to bring an open mind to dealing with the issues that face this community. I believe in listening to all sides of an issue and to approach all issues with equanimity and fairness. I think that one of my strengths is the desire to find consensus and to build on common cause. Alexandria is my home because of its legacy of diversity and fairness and I believe that through a balanced approach to problems we will find solutions together.Justin WilsonMy work on Potomac Yard dates back to my time prior to Council service as the Del Ray Citizens Association President. We worked with our neighbors and the City to shape the future of Potomac Yard and ensure that the infrastructure was appropriate for the development proposed.
During my 7.5 years of service on the City Council, I successfully worked to revive the Potomac Yard Metro project, a project that was dead when I came onto the Council in 2007 (for my first stint), and although we’ve hit challenges, I’m happy the project is alive and remains viable. It is an important project for Potomac Yard and our City’s future.
For my day job, I have worked for 11.5 years at Amtrak, now leading IT Supplier Management.Kevin DunneI am a millennial without a background in politics. I bring an agile, realistic, and respectful approach to solving problems. With my energy and my experience in marketing, fundraising, and business, I can bring the focused energy and time necessary to make Alexandria a more efficient, transparent, and business/homeowner-friendly city. This will improve our brand and revitalize our economy.
I also wish to underscore the respect I am uniquely able to provide to residents on account of my age and enthusiasm: this election has been predominately driven around the issue of respect. Being accountable, listening well, and giving a good-faith estimate of opinions which differ from one’s own are free to adopt and to everyone’s benefit. Yet we are bereft of this resources to a significant degree, and to everyone’s detriment. I want to increase the return on this approach by incorporating leadership that doesn’t just simply listen to people and ignore what they say.