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ALX Voter Guide 2021: Including Alyia Gaskins and other candidates for City Council

Updated: May 27


Given the complexity of these issues, and the limited responses required for publication, the below is a more detailed response to the Alexandria Times Candidate Questionnaire:


Alexandria Times election coverage


Alyia Gaskins

Candidate for Alexandria City Council


Thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective on some of the most pressing issues facing Alexandria residents. As you can imagine, these are highly complex issues. In an effort to honor my values of listening, transparency, and the inclusion of diverse voices, some of my answers are more than one word.


Questions for City Council questionnaire, one-word answers:


1) Do you agree with City Manager Mark Jinks’ stated goal of increasing Alexandria’s density by 40%? Yes or No.


Alexandria’s density should be driven by our values, enhance affordability, ensure diverse mixed-income communities, and reflect what our infrastructure is capable of supporting.


2) Do you prioritize environmental preservation or development more? Both are important, but which is more important?


Our environment should be prioritized in development through green building standards, open space and tree canopy requirements, etc.


3) Should the city proceed with “natural channel design” at Taylor Run? Yes or No.


No


4) Is further ethics reform needed in Alexandria? Yes or No.


Yes


5) Are density waivers for developers the best way to increase the city’s affordable housing stock? Yes or No.


Density waivers are critical for affordable housing in cities like Alexandria with robust market-rate construction and redevelopment. We must also leverage tools like land trust, preservation, etc.


6) Do you favor further road diets on Alexandria’s streets? Yes or No.


I am in favor of working with residents to design and maintain a transportation network that supports all users—pedestrians, transit users, cyclists, and drivers.


7) Do you think the .9 mile stretch of Seminary Road where a road diet was implemented should be returned to four lanes? Yes or No.


The goal should not be just “go back,” because that won’t eliminate congestion,reduce cut through traffic, or address safety. We need solutions that address all users.


8) On a scale of one to 10, with one lowest and 10 highest, how much does resident input, particularly from those most impacted by decisions, influence your position on issues?


10


9) Should City Council require Alexandria City Public Schools to return to full in-person learning this fall in order to receive full funding? Yes or No.


No. Council should work with ACPS to get schools to open as safely and as soon as possible and to address barriers to achieving that goal.


10) Does the city need to improve its communications with residents? Yes or No.


Yes


City Council questionnaire, short answer (25 words or less):


1)Rank the following issues from most to least important:


5 ACPS students back in classrooms full time

3 affordable housing

12 increasing density

9 environmental preservation

1 equity

10 ethics

8 flooding

13 historic preservation down

7 non-automobile transportation options

2 resident input into decisions

6 school capacity

4 small business strength

11 vibrancy


2) What’s the biggest problem facing Alexandria right now?


Many of our residents don’t feel they have the ability to shape decisions that impact their lives – especially our black and brown neighbors.


3) What’s the city’s biggest long-term challenge?


The most pressing long-term challenge facing our city is our aging infrastructure, specifically in the areas of stormwater, transportation, broadband and housing.


4) What is Alexandria’s greatest strength and how would you work to enhance it?


Our people. We need to make it easier for community members to share their views by creating multiple ways for people to participate in decision-making.


5) What’s the first thing you’d propose if you’re elected/re-elected to City Council?


An interactive GIS system on our city website that allows residents to easily access information and resources, as well as share pictures/stories by neighborhood.


6) Which personal contribution that you have made in Alexandria are you proudest of?


I’m particularly proud that I was able to get equity added as a criteria to the Transportation Commission’s review of it’s long range plan.



7) What qualifies you to be elected/re-elected to City Council?


My public health and urban planning make me uniquely qualified. Healthy community requires our housing, education, business, and transportation policies to work together.


8) What is the city’s greatest area of need as it continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic? How would you address it?


We must focus on small business recovery -- especially for women and minority-owned businesses – though tax and regulatory changes, marketing, grants, and recovery plan development.


9) What is the best approach to address the city’s affordable housing challenges?


Focus on protection, production and preservation of affordable housing grounded in healthy housing principles. We must also help families build wealth and expand homeownership opportunities.


10) What do you hope the city looks like in five years? Ten years?


As we emerge from one of the most difficult times in history, we need to design a healthier, more Alexandria that is affordable and equitable.


11) How do you plan to address issues of race and social equity in the city, if at all?


I will lead efforts to eliminate racial disparities, center the voices of those affected in decisions, and allocate resources to address root causes of inequities.


12) Do you believe more policing reform needs to be pursued in the Alexandria Police Department?


Yes, there is always room for improvement. We should immediately look to approve the police review board, improve community engagement and transparency in data sharing.


13) Do you agree with the creation of a “drug court” to prioritize treatment over punishment for possession of drugs? Do you view this as an equity issue? Explain.


Yes I would support this policy, as the data clearly demonstrates a disproportionately in drug charges for people of color.


14) Redevelopment has reduced Alexandria’s supply of affordable housing by roughly 90% during the past 20 years. Do you view this as an equity issue? Explain.


This is an equity issue. We need to prioritize more affordable housing in new development, expand economic opportunities, and help residents build wealth.


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