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City Council Candidates Responses to Old Town Post’s Questions | Editorial | Old Town Post


Old Town Post reached out to all of the City Council candidates with two questions:

1. Why are you running for council?
2. Why should someone in Old Town vote for you?

“Van” Van Fleet, Paul Smedberg, Timothy B. Lovain, D. Philip Cefaratti, and Justin Wilson responded to our questions. Their responses follow in the order they were received.

Willie F. Bailey, John T. Chapman, Monique A. Miles, Redella S. “Del” Pepper,  Fernando M. Torrez, and Bob Wood did not respond to our inquiry.


Townsend “Van” Van Fleet (R)

Why are you running for Council

I am running for election because Alexandria needs a positive change and Council Members who listen to the citizen’s needs and desires. The Council, as it stands has repeatedly failed to listen to the needs and desires of almost every neighborhood in the city. They are jeopardizing our future and that of our kids by failing to resolve the city’s revenue and expenditure imbalance for the past eight years wherein we are spending more each year than we are taking in causing our debt to balloon 300% or a total of $540 million with a projected yearly debt service of $80 million. The rapid and extremely dense developments approved by this Council will not do as advertised and lead to better citizen services and lower taxes. They have in fact done the opposite. Additionally, there are massive infrastructure costs projected to fix and rebuild our schools and our combined sewer system. Our taxes have increased 23 cents on each one hundred dollars of property value over the past ten years and are projected by this Council’s Five Year Projection plan to rise another 21% by the year 2020. To get through this dilemma there is no doubt that this Council will continue to raise taxes as proven by their track record.

As we are all aware, the three critical services citizens expect from their government are a strong safety net (police and firemen), a sound infrastructure and good schools. Regrettably, for a myriad of reasons this Council has failed to deliver on all three. I want to help rectify those shortcomings, by improving our educational system, increasing affordable housing, stimulating economic activity to increase revenues, decrease your taxes, and support sensible development that fits into Alexandria’s history and charm.

Now is the time for change. This city is in dire need of responsive and responsible leadership. We need a new team on Council to invoke positive changes across our great city and I’d like to be part of that team working for YOU. When elected I promise to listen to the Citizens and employ your needs and desires in to the Council’s decision making process. In short I’m running for Council because I’m an “Advocate for the People”, and I want to ensure that Alexandria will be Great City to live in and visit for generations to come!

Why should someone in Old Town vote for you?

Over the past twenty years I have been an active advocate for the citizens of “Old Town” Alexandria. I have had hundreds of letters published in all the local newspapers where I discussed a vast array of public policy issues. Additionally, I have on numerous occasions appeared before Council, the Planning Commission, the Board of Architectural Review, and many other boards and commissions regarding issues of great importance to the citizens living in “Old Town”. I have always espoused a sensible growth philosophy in which future developments need to fit into our Old and Historic District neighborhood, and that they be tied directly to the ability of our local roads and related infrastructure to handle the predictable increase in traffic and demand on services, as just one example.

When elected I will continue to be a strong advocate for the citizens of this great city and my promise to you is I will:

  • Listen to the Needs and Desires of the Citizens
  • Lower Your Taxes
  • Increase Affordable Housing
  • Support Sensible Development while Preserving our History
  • Stop any ‘Special Tax Zoning’
  • Improve the quality of our Schools & Education

I am a 30 year “Old Town” Alexandria resident. I am a 23 year Army Veteran. After graduating from West Point in served in a number of assignments throughout the US, Germany and Vietnam. I am currently the President of Van Fleet Associates, a small Alexandria based governmental relations firm that shepherds companies, associations and other organizations through the bureaucratic maze on Capitol Hill and the Executive Agencies.

I have served eighteen years (two as the President) on the Board of Directors of the Nyumbani Orphanage in Kenya, which houses 104 HIV positive orphans and provides care for an additional 3,000 HIV positive children and 3,000 of their relatives in the surrounding Nairobi community, In addition, I have served 3 years as the President of the Old Town Civic Association, eight years as a member of the Waterfront Commission, and 15 years on the Board of the Federation of Civic Associations where I served as the Vice Chair.

I request your vote, as I have a proven track record of standing for the citizens’ issues and working to keep “Old Town” Alexandria Great.


Paul Smedberg (D) (Incumbent)

Why are you running for Council?

I want to continue my service to the City of Alexandria and to assure that all we have accomplished in the past remains sustainable in the future. I believe that my vision for the City is one that secures the financial stability necessary to maintain the valued services upon which we rely: the education of our children, the protection of our health and safety, provision of adequate housing stock, and a viable economy to grow the commercial tax base and relieve the residential property owner. A vital and flourishing economy will provide jobs and opportunities for our residents. My vision is for a City that fosters diversity, the engagement of its citizens, and a well-managed and efficient government that is responsive to all its residents. I believe that I have been a voice of compromise and reason, a voice that speaks for public art, seeks good design, and purposeful preservation as well as expressing a high regard for the inherited historic legacy of Alexandria. Finally, I believe in my ability to fulfill the trust that each voter places in me when casting his or her vote. I am running because I consider public service a responsibility as well as a privilege and I fervently hope to continue to serve you.


Why should someone from Old Town support you?

Since moving to Alexandria more than 25 years ago I have live in the Old Town section of the City. I am the only member of Council who currently lives in Old Town and I share with you the advantages of being able to walk to the many restaurants, shops, galleries, businesses and other amenities which make this part of town a unique residential area. I live one block from the Potomac River and I am able to enjoy quiet mornings along our waterway with its joggers, dog walkers and cyclists. I have often been asked “Why did you support the “Waterfront Plan” which will bring increased development to our waterfront? My response is simply that without a carefully reasoned plan we would be subject to “by right” development which could destroy the elements of the waterfront we hold dear. Those elements include easy access to the water, the connectivity of the river frontage, lively areas intermixed with open, natural spaces and public amenities which enhance our Old Town neighborhood. In addition I played a major and ongoing role along with Old Town neighbors in working to close the

Gen-On/Mirant Plant which was a detrimental presence in the City. I am actively involved with the ongoing process of mitigating the site and planning for its future use. I have been and if reelected will continue to be involved with all aspects of this urban center of Alexandria and remain accessible to you and all neighbors in addressing the issues and problems we encounter from parking, infrastructure repair and the countless irritants that arise from a densely populated community. Regardless of these irritants we all recognize the value of our neighborhood, the importance of its historic past and the promise of a well-designed and maintained future. I seek your vote for I believe I make a difference in safeguarding what we hold dear in Alexandria!


Timothy B. Lovain (D) (Incumbent)

Why are you running for council?

I am running for City Council to help make a great city even better.  I want to continue to be a champion for our kids.  I want to use my transportation expertise to help address our City’s and our region’s transportation challenges.  I want to continue to fight for walkable neighborhoods well-served by transit.  I want to continue to be a careful steward of Alexandrians’ tax dollars.  And I want to continue to play a role in this City’s recent successful efforts to attract high-quality commercial development around our Metro stations, which will strengthen our tax base and relieve the tax burden on our residents.

Alexandria is a well-run city with a bright future.  It needs leaders who study the issues, listen carefully to all sides, and then have the courage and judgment to make the right decisions.  I am proud of what this Council has done and I want to continue to play a leading role in moving Alexandria forward.

Why should someone in Old Town vote for you?

I am committed to historic preservation and I am proud of my votes on historic preservation.  Old Town is a “jewel box” of historic buildings that need to be carefully preserved.  I support height limits in Old Town and the role of the BAR.  Alexandria’s future developments should be focused around our Metro stations, especially the new Potomac Yard station, the Eisenhower Avenue station, and the Van Dorn station, not near the old and historic district.

I understand the concerns that have been raised about the waterfront plan.  I believe that the final plan struck a good balance.  I am very excited about the continuous promenade along the river and the Olin designs for the waterfront.  The City needs continuing input from interested and informed citizens about the details of waterfront development.  With their help, I think we will soon have a world-class riverfront in Alexandria.

I think most of the concerns of Old Towners are the same as of all Alexandrians—ensuring a great quality of life supported by high-quality City services and a caring, inclusive City government.


D. Philip Cefaratti (I)

Why are you running for council?

I am running for City Council because there is a dearth of multifaceted business experience on the current Council as well as within the candidate field. My background and experience are distinct and unique from every other candidate. With a broad-based, business-oriented background in both the public and private sector, I have a wide range of perspectives uniquely inherent to me. As a member of City Council, I will offer perspectives on issues and methods to solve problems that have not been heard on Council for a long time.

I am a jack-of-all-trades and have never limited myself to working within one industry and/or one functional specialty. As a Navy Supply Corps officer, I served as USS Austin’s banker, convenience store owner, restaurateur, hardware store owner, and barbershop and laundry operator. During my next tour, I learned defense contracting and ultimately, managed contracts for the government and for defense contractors. After earning my MBA at Georgetown, I made a conscious decision to disassociate myself from my defense/government focus and headed to Silicon Valley and the commercial world of high technology as the Aide to the CEO of a hardware design and manufacturing firm. I transitioned to independent consulting in finance, strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and business development. I turned my back on a high tech startup’s permanent job offer because, after building its proposed business financial model based upon its projections, I knew it wasn’t realistic.

I got married, inherited three stepchildren, and moved to Alexandria from Arlington in February 2005. In 2007, I transitioned to a career in real estate, focusing on Alexandria. I now have my own company, Potomac River, Realtors®, with an office on King Street in Old Town. I sell Alexandria every single day, as part of my job is showing both buyers and renters what our city has to offer its residents. My daily job is to serve Alexandrians. There is no better way to extend that service than by serving on City Council.


Why should someone in Old Town vote for you?

Each area of Alexandria has unique needs and issues. I view Old Town as our Colonial heart, steeped in centuries of history. Given the density, mix of residential and commercial real estate, location along the Potomac River, and status as a popular international tourist destination, there are three primary reasons why residents should vote for me. First, residents should have the opportunity to find parking in front of their homes with relative ease. I will push for stricter enforcement of parking regulations and will introduce new legislation to create changes to residential parking permits. Instituting draconian measures that will ticket and tow violators and create an impetus for visitors to use parking garages and other means, will reduce and hopefully, eliminate parking issues for residents. Second, we must push forward quickly with flood mitigation and sewer projects in unison. Finally, we must retain Old Town’s comparative advantage of its colonial heritage. King Street is our Main Street and offers small businesses a place to thrive. As a native Washingtonian, I think back to what Georgetown looked like in the 70s and 80s, and compare it to what Georgetown is now. It has lost its mystique by giving in to generic national brands. I will never allow that to happen in Old Town.


Justin Wilson (D) (Incumbent)

Why are you running for Council?

Elections are about the community we want our children to inherit. My vision of the Alexandria my children will inherit is one where our fiscal future is secure, our quality of life and economic growth unaffected by congestion and our children thriving.

The fundamental choice before our community over the next two decades is not whether we grow, but moreover, how we grow. With responsible budgeting, coordinated economic development, infrastructure expansion and remediation, as well as educational excellence, Alexandria can lead the region’s recovery.

By protecting our long-term fiscal and physical infrastructure, expanding transportation options, ensuring the success of every child, Alexandria can be the place where my children will want to raise their family two decades from now.

We have made great progress these past 3 years, but there is more to do to ensure that Alexandria leads the region’s recovery.

I am now completing my second stint on the Alexandria City Council and have served for nearly 5 years.

During this stint on Council, I have served on the City-Schools Subcommittee, the Long Range Educational Facilities Work Group, the Potomac Yard Metro Implementation Group, the City’s Audit Committee and the Quality of Life Committee. During my previous stint on the Council, I served on the Youth Policy Commission, the Commission on Information Technology, the Alexandria Library Board, and as the City’s representative on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Human Services & Public Safety Policy Committee.

Prior to and between stints on Council, I was the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alexandria Transit Company (DASH Bus), the City’s representative to the Board of Directors of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, a member of the Alexandria Transportation Commission, the City’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee and a two-term President of the Del Ray Citizens Association.

I was appointed by Governor Warner to the Virginia Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, and twice appointed by Governor Kaine to the Virginia Board of Juvenile Justice.

I have been active in the City’s non-profit community as well, serving as a member of the Board of Directors of Computer C.O.R.E., which provides computer training to low-income adults, and the Board of Trustees of Hopkins House, an early childhood education provider.

I have lived for fifteen years in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria with my wife, and now with our two children. When not performing Council service, I am the Director of Infrastructure Program Management for Amtrak Information Technology.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems from Virginia Commonwealth University, and I am a Fellow of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia.

Why should someone in Old Town vote for you?

I have worked throughout my tenure on City Council to protect what makes Old Town unique, and ensure that the success of Old Town does not come at the expense of its residents.

I’ve been a consistent vote to uphold our Board of Architectural Review in protecting the historic resources of the Old and Historic District. I have pushed for expansion of the Administrative Special Use Permit Process in Old Town so that chains are not the only businesses that can afford to open along King Street. I have successfully advocated for new parking policies to protect parking availability for residents.

I’m proud to have supported a plan for our Waterfront that creates acres of new open space, provides millions to fund badly needed flood mitigation, and prevented a privatization of the waterfront. For the first time in our history we will have a public promenade the length of the waterfront-—bringing people to the water, and bringing people into our history.

I’m excited that this Council was able to end decades of fighting and reach a settlement with the Old Dominion Boat Club, which not only creates a landmark park at the base of King Street, but also retains the Club’s 100+ year history on our waterfront.

This is an exciting time for our City, and an exciting time for Old Town. I have been proud to work with the residents of Old Town to move our City forward.

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