Blue Virginia: Two Endorsements for Alexandria City Council: Willie Bailey and Elizabeth Bennett-Parker
By Lowell Feld
With a bit over a month to until Alexandria Democrats head to the polls to choose their nominees for City Council, I’ve been looking more closely at the candidates, talking to people who know Alexandria politics, and am ready to make my first two endorsements.
A bit of background: as I noted in this post, there are a dozen candidates — eight newcomers (Canek Aguirre, Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Matthew Feely, Dak Hardwick, Amy Jackson, Robert Ray, Mo Seifeldein, J. Chris Hubbard) and four incumbents (Willie Bailey, John T. Chapman, Redella “Del” Pepper and Paul Smedberg,) running for six seats. Effectively, in such a heavily “blue” city, the Democratic primary will be equivalent to the general election, as it’s unlikely that any of the winners on June 12 will lose in November.
With that background, let me go right to my first two endorsed candidates for the June 12 Democratic primary: 1) incumbent Willie Bailey; 2) newcomer Elizabeth Bennett-Parker. Why did I pick these two candidates?
Next, here’s my thinking on Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.
You might start sensing a theme here, as Bennett-Parker – like Willie Bailey – is another person who seems more concerned about serving others than about personal accolades or credit.
She helps lead Together We Bake, a nonprofit job training and personal development program for women in need. Working with our city’s most vulnerable women has led Elizabeth to help build an Alexandria that aims higher for families and individuals who need support.
Elizabeth understands the pressures of being a small business owner. She is 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.
Before launching Fruitcycle, Elizabeth worked for the National Governors Association, where she served as governors’ liaison to Congress, federal agencies,and the White Houseon issues related to transportation, economic development, and health.
She was appointed by the Alexandria City Council to serve on the Community Criminal Justice Board and was selected as one of Alexandria’s 40 under 40 in 2017.
As for Bennett-Parker’s priorities, here are a few that jumped out at me as great reasons to support her candidacy: 1) “She is an advocate for fair planning that allows for big city vibrancy and preserves Alexandria’s small town charm.” (exactly the right combination, in my view); 2) “She will fight for environmental sustainability” (Alexandria badly needs an environmental champion on its City Council); 3) “She will work with ACPS to modernize facilities and make sure students receive the education they need to succeed.”; 4) “Elizabeth will fight to ensure that our City’s seniors, lower-income individuals, and young people are able to access affordable housing” (crucially important); 5) ” As a nonprofit leader who works with women who are homeless, recent immigrants, and formerly incarcerated, she knows the struggles of the most vulnerable members of our community. She will work to ensure all Alexandrians can succeed and build a great life for their families.” (again, a perspective and skill set that is much needed on the City Council).
Finally, note that the smart-growth advocates at Greater Greater Washington recently endorsed Bennett-Parker, citing her “ground-up experience, which highlights the need for bike infrastructure to not just exist, but be functional,” her “thorough answers,” and that she had “given a great deal of thought to these issues and how a place on the city council would allow [her] to pursue [her] vision.”
So those are my first two recommendations for Alexandria City Council — nominate Willie Bailey for reelection and Elizabeth Bennett-Parker for first-time election. No matter what, make sure you vote on June 12 in the Democratic primary!
P.S. It will be interesting to see what Alexandria Republicans choose to do on June 12 – vote in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate or vote in the Democratic primary for Alexandria mayor and city council. True, Republicans only make up something like 20% of Alexandria’s voters, but if they choose to vote in the Democratic primary, they could certainly make a difference. My betting is that most of them will want to vote in the Republican U.S. Senate primary for Nick Freitas, Corey Stewart or E.W. Jackson, but we’ll see in a few weeks…