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How I Listen, and How I Plan to Serve

Updated: Jan 27

When I make a new friend, I want to hear their life story. When I’m solving a problem at work, I make sure I hear from everyone involved. I could listen to my son babble all day long. When I began thinking about a run for City Council, I knew that listening was the first step. So I began holding listening sessions with the people who matter most to hear directly from them on what challenges were on their minds.

I started by speaking to my favorite people in Alexandria: my neighbors. And I just don’t mean the people I see every day in Cameron Station. In neighborhoods across our city, from Arlandria to Potomac Yard to Rosemont and everything in between, I have listened to neighbors talk about everything from the Torpedo Factory and local restaurants, to flooding and housing issues, to broken sidewalks that need to be fixed. I heard that Alexandria neighbors love our city, are excited to live here, and believe in the promise of Alexandria.

I also heard questions about our future, about how we make development work for us, and how we ensure that all neighborhoods have the good homes, good schools, and good jobs that we all need. I also heard their questions about infrastructure, stormwater management, and our budget. These are the things I care about too—that’s why I’m running for City Council.

Next, I wanted to hear from Alexandria’s faith leaders. My faith grounds my commitment to justice and equity, and our faith leaders are on the front lines of those issues in Alexandria. They told me about the challenges people are facing in recovering from Covid, paying rent, and buying food. I heard about how people are hurting but also about how communities of faith, other local organizations, and the city are working hard to meet those needs. I learned that partnerships and collaboration are critical, not only for meeting immediate needs but for making Alexandria an equitable community where all residents can flourish, and that the City Council has a crucial role to play in those partnerships and collaborations.

I also listened to the owners and staff of our small businesses who are reeling from the pandemic. From them I heard an appreciation for how the city has supported them during Covid, proactively rolling out and starting new initiatives, like flexible permitting, that they hope will continue after the pandemic ends. Business owners are hopeful about vaccines, but they know they will need continued support from the city to bring customers back and fully recover. They are also aware that the success of their businesses is integrally connected to issues like affordable housing and quality transportation, which make living in Alexandria possible for their workers and customers. You’ll see all these issues reflected in my policy positions here.

Finally, I listened to current and former elected officials. I wanted to hear their perspectives on Alexandria’s challenges and opportunities--and what they thought I needed to know to do the job. They confirmed my belief that it’s one thing to have great ideas and another thing to actually run a city. They shared how council members work together, how city processes operate, and how to get things done. Everyone I spoke to gave me their support. You’ll see those endorsements rolling out over the next few weeks – endorsements I am proud to have earned.

After listening to so many community members, I’m even more excited about what we can do together. I’m not done listening. I would love to hear from you and how we can work together to make great things happen for Alexandria. If you have an idea or want to connect with me, please reach out at info@alyiaforalexandria.com

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