Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Newsletter - August 28, 2017

Special Election in all of Fairfax County on Tuesday
Vote for
 Karen Keys-Gamarra!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 29, an election will be held throughout every part of Fairfax County. Yet only a tiny percentage of voters are expected to vote in the Special Election for Fairfax County School Board scheduled for that day.

On the last day of May, a Republican Member of the Fairfax School Board resigned. But rather than wait a few days longer so as to put the election of her successor on the November general ballot when a wide swath of Fairfax voters could make the choice, this Board Member purposely decided to force Fairfax County to spend a quarter of a million dollars so as to hold an election when she hopes very few people will vote and her designated Republican successor can sneak in.

Don't let these machinations succeed! If you live in Fairfax County -- or know people who do -- make sure to vote tomorrow, Tuesday, August 29. Don't forget. It's in small-turnout elections like these where your vote can really make a difference.

Although the race is technically non-partisan, both parties have endorsed candidates, and Democrats have endorsed Karen Keys-Gamarra, a Fairfax County Planning Commissioner who serves on the Schools Committee. Karen is a well-respected family attorney and guardian ad litem who advocates for children in court proceedings to protect their interests. She is tremendously qualified and would do great things for our schools, while her Republican opponent is running on a platform of intentionally discriminating against transgender students. As these students already have a higher rate of suicide than others, it boggles my mind that the Republicans are actually running on bigotry as a campaign platform.

You can vote at your regular polling place any time between 6am and 7pm on Tuesday August 29. You can lookup your polling place HEREFairfax County residents, do not forget to vote!

Supporting Karen Keys-Gamarra for Fairfax County School Board, along with other elected officials.

Tragedy in Charlottesville

As I'm sure you're aware, just two weeks ago, tragedy came to Virginia. As Neo-Nazis and white supremacists from around the country gathered in Charlottesville with torches, a group of local students and residents formed a counter-protest to stand up for the country we believe in. It was then that one of these racist terrorists got into a car and drove it at full speed into the crowd, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others. Shortly after, we heard the President seemingly equate white supremacists with the counter-protestors by condemning "many sides."

I went on national television that day, a few hours after Heyer was murdered, to call on the President to denounce white nationalism.  And I shared it on FOX News, the station the President is most known to watch. Sadly, the President said nothing until he gave a begrudging admission two days later that he didn't support Nazis or the KKK. He then promptly took back his words the next day, again condemning "both sides." Worst of all, he repeated this horrible sentiment at a rally in Phoenix. And Friday, as Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the President focused instead on pardoning the lawless, cruel Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who for decades ran racist prison camps that engaged in the sadistic torture of inmates.

On television and on radio, I have not shied away from calling this President out. Every week, I'm on air on more than 40 radio stations. If you ever want to check out my show, I also broadcast live on Facebook on Mondays and Wednesdays (and often other days) from 3-4 pm ET.

Lessons from Charlottesville

In addition to calling out racist violence, I've been thinking about how best to respond to Charlottesville and would welcome further suggestions at my Monthly Meetups. Here's what I've come up with so far:

1) Localities Should Be Able to Ban Firearms at Protests

Many of the people at the Nazi rally were armed with dangerous assault weapons, way out-gunning the police, some of whom have confided in me that if one shot had gone off, it would likely have led to dozens dead. Thank God it did not. Police, in a gunfire melee in the midst of thousands of people in close quarters, just can't tell who is the "good guy with a gun" and who is the terrorist. It's an impossible situation for them and could have led to a massacre.

Many gun-rights advocates argue for laws permitting public carrying of firearms by ordinary citizens because, they argue, it can be hard for the police to arrive in time. Even though I dismiss that argument in urban locations with quick police response time such as Alexandria, I can see how some in rural Virginia would make that argument. Still, the argument entirely falls apart when law enforcement is already present, as they are at a permitted protest. There's just no good reason for ordinary folks to carry firearms in such a case, but there are lots of dangers if they do.

I believe localities should have the authority to restrict firearms or any other death-causing agent (like a car) in the close quarters of a protest where law enforcement is already present. I've been to many protests in the District of Columbia, where the police won't even let you carry a wooden post for a sign because it could be used as a weapon. Even in Alabama -- a state where gun-rights law are paramount and gun culture is at least as strong as Virginia's -- they ban firearms at protests. So I will introduce a bill to do this in Virginia in 2018.

2) Police Should Be Prepared

I'm consulting with local police to determine what we can do differently and better that Charlottesville should we be confronted with something similar. Charlottesville police were unable to separate the protestors from the counter-protestors (due, in part, to a court order requiring them to let the Neo-Nazis march close to their statue of Robert E. Lee). I want to make sure we are prepared in advance of such a crisis, if it should come to pass in our area.

3)  Changing Confederate Names and Statues

I have long been an advocate for changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria and Arlington and am glad to report that local officials in both Alexandria and Arlington are committed to doing so. I believe they have power to do so without any new law on the part of the Virginia General Assembly.

I will also introduce a couple of bills next session to allow Alexandria to move the 1889Appomattox statue of a Confederate soldier depicting his surrender at the end of the Civil War. Alexandria has asked to move the statue a few feet away to the Lyceum (the Alexandria history museum).

I will introduce a second bill to allow other Virginia localities local control over their own Confederate statues and memorials. This will require legislation and could be an uphill battle, as the General Assembly voted to strengthen laws against local authority over these monuments in 2016. (The Governor vetoed that bill, and I joined with others to sustain his veto.) But I will try. 

Finally, I will introduce a bill to replace the statue of Robert E. Lee that Virginia designated for Statuary Hall at the US Capitol. Each state is allowed only two statues, and Virginia currently has Lee and George Washington as our two choices. Few can doubt the greatness and historical importance of George Washington as perhaps the country's greatest Virginian, but I think we can do much better than Lee. As no state has ever chosen an African-American to be one of their two contributions to the hall, it would be my preference to replace Lee with an African-American Virginian of note, but even if that doesn't happen, I still think Lee should be replaced by a Virginian that did not take up arms against his country to serve the cause of slavery.

The Next Mark's Monthly Meetup

Los Tios in Del Ray
Sunday, September 24 at 2 pm 

Please mark your calendars for Sunday, September 24 for September's Mark's Monthly Meetup from 2-4 pm at Los Tios Mexican restaurant in Del Ray (2615 Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria). No doubt, we'll have plenty to talk about. Come join us to eat, relax, and discuss policy and politics.

And if you miss September, there's always October, November, and December. Every month, I make sure to be available in this informal setting for any constituent who wishes to discuss a problem or just say hello. Help me get to know you better, so I can better determine your priorities in Richmond. I always strive to be as accessible to you as I can possibly be.


 We always have a great discussion at Mark's Monthly Meetups!

In the Community...

With Virginia's Next Governor Ralph Northam at his Alexandria Campaign Kickoff....


At fundraiser for Dawn Adams, who's running for Delegate in the Richmond area, along with Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn and Kathleen Murphy.



 At fundraiser for Alicia Kallen, who's running for Delegate in the 1st District in Southwest Virginia, the corner of Virginia farthest from us that borders Kentucky and Tennessee.




More fundraisers for Ralph Northam

Speaking at the Arlington Dems' Monthly Breakfast 

With Councilman Willie Bailey at the Alexandria
Chamber of Commerce's 40 Under 40

The eclipse in Nashville,Tennessee
(where I was born and where my parents still live)

Alexandria Back to School Event

Upcoming Events I Will Be Attending:

Please join me.

Tuesday, August 29
Polls open from 6 am -7 pm
Please vote for Karen Keys-Gamarra!
(I will be at the polls in my two Fairfax precincts.)

Sunday, September 3, Noon
NOVA Labor Federation Labor Day Picnic

Fort Hunt Park, 8999 Fort Hunt Rd, Alexandria

Monday, September 4, Noon
Alexandria Democratic Committee Labor Day Picnic

Fort Ward Park, 4301 W Braddock Rd, Alexandria

Monday, September 4, 2pm
Arlington County Democratic Committee Chili Cook Off

Lyon Park Community Center, 414 N Fillmore St, Arlington

Friday, September 8, 7pm
Fundraiser for Kimberly Anne Tucker

Kora Restaurant, 2250 Crystal Dr, Ste B, Arlington

Saturday, September 9, 5pm
Dining for Delegates (Lee Carter)

Location to be announced

Monday, September 11, 1pm
Women's Club of Arlington Resolution Presentation

700 S Buchanan St, Arlington

Thursday, September 14, 5:30pm
Alexandria Chamber Legislative Reception

The Westin Alexandria, 400 Courthouse Sq, Alexandria

Sunday, September 17, 11:30am
King Street Art Festival

Monday, September 18, 7pm
Together Virginia Fundraiser

Lyon Park Community Center, 414 N Fillmore St, Arlington

Tuesday, September 19, 5pm
Gubernatorial Debate

Capital One Headquarters, 1680 Capital One Dr, McLean

Sunday, September 24, 2:00pm
Mark's Monthly Meetup

Los Tios, 2615 Mt. Vernon Ave, Alexandria

It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.

Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District