MARK IN THE NEWS
Video: Arlington Committee of 100 Redistricting Reform Forum
Arlington Independent Media
Falls Church Approves Limited LGBT Rights Ordinance
The Washington Blade
County Considers Adding One Cent to Real Estate Tax
Fairfax County Times
Bloomberg in Alexandria: 'I Would Love to Take on Donald Trump' [I am NOT endorsing him. I just welcome him and other Presidential candidates when they speak in my district.]
Or by mail and phone:
900 East Main Street, Suite E208
Richmond, VA 23219
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
Gerrymandering is Not a Game.
But if it were, you'd play it this Friday...
If you want to learn more about how gerrymandering works in a fun holiday atmosphere, please join us this Friday at the home of Alexandria's Clerk-Elect Greg Parks & his husband, Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney David Lord, for
Have a Very Gerry(mandered) Holiday!
this Friday, December 20, at 6:30 pm,
at 1005 Russell Road in Alexandria
Click the game board to make a reservation to play!
Come learn about the different ways that elected officials subvert democracy by picking their own voters.
At this event, you'll be able to practice gerrymandering in a fun, game-like setting without harming a single voter. If you want to know how to defeat gerrymandering, you should understand exactly how it works.
My Op-Ed in the Washington Post
If you are still unconvinced that we ought to scrap the proposed irredeemably-flawed pro-gerrymandering Virginia constitutional amendment and replace it with a plan to create a truly fair redistricting process, I hope you'll take a look at my op-ed recently published by the Washington Post, which they captioned online as:
Because the Washington Post website is behind a paywall that only allows a limited number of free articles, I have posted a picture of the article below (For ease of reading, I have two close-ups of it below as well).
My op-ed in the Washington Post published Sunday, December 15 in the Metro section.
I also recommend to you this excellent analysis from progressive activist Chris Ambrose in Blue Virginia: The Proposed Redistricting Constitutional Amendment is a Bad Deal That Needs To Be Rejected.
You've now heard my view. But to be fair, you need to compare my argument with the other side to see who is most persuasive. I recommend you watch the full video of my excellent debate with Brian Cannon of OneVirginia 2021. Thank you to the Arlington Committee of 100 for hosting the debate. There is a great Question and Answer section after each of our remarks.
Hear both sides! Watch the debate!
Governor's Budget Came Out Today!
Working for Working Families
Today (Tuesday, December 17), Governor Northam presented his full budget proposal to the Joint Money Committees. The 2020 General Assembly will debate and vote on the biennial budget after the session begins on January 8. And there are two very special things in the budget for Alexandria that I've been fighting hard for as long as I've been in office. (See next two sections below.)
But first: the Democratic majority was elected, in part, because of our commitment to improve public education, housing affordability, and healthcare access for all Virginians. Governor Northam has shown that he plans to hold true to that commitment, by proposing such important investments as:
Included in this proposal is $140.4 million to increase the “At-Risk Add-On” for educationally at-risk students. This is the largest single increase to this funding source in Virginia’s history.
I have advocated for this increase since I was first elected in 2015. With 61% of Alexandria’s students eligible for free/reduced lunch, this new investment will play a vital role in narrowing the achievement gap in our schools.
This funding will make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields. The Governor’s “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or “G3” program, will provide financial support to cover tuition, fees, and books for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions.
This will do more than help lift thousands of Virginians out of poverty. It will also help fill a critical need for qualified workers in high-demand fields such as nursing. It is exciting to see Virginia lead the nation in making community college more affordable and, for low-income students, tuition free!
Delegate Ibrahim Samirah, Speaker-Designee Eileen Filler-Corn, and I
celebrate at the announcement of the Governor's G3 Initiative
This includes $63 million for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF), bringing the total amount to $84 million over three years. This is a dramatic increase from years past to a Trust Fund the Republicans refused to put any money in when I first joined the House of Delegates. I have consistently advocated for a large increase in these funds.
The VHTF provides financing for housing construction projects that create or preserve affordable housing units, reduce the cost of affordable housing, and increase homeownership. The funding also supports homeless reduction grants to provide rapid re-housing and longer-term housing solutions for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.
It also includes $6.6 million to establish an Eviction Prevention and Diversion Pilot Program. This program will allow local and regional partners to apply for help implementing eviction prevention and diversion programs that cover the costs associated with a pending or potential eviction.
Moreover, the budget invests $22.4 million over the biennium to ensure populations with special needs have access to safe, affordable housing.
Did you know that black women in Virginia are twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women? This disparity is a stain on our healthcare system, but these investments will help combat this racial disparity.
The proposed funding will dramatically expand Medicaid coverage for new moms, increase home visiting, and explore Medicaid reimbursement for doula support services (A doula is a trained professional who guides and supports families during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum are of the newborn and mother.)
Also included is $4 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding to increase access to affordable, reliable contraception through the Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) program. Increasing access to LARCs allows families to better plan and space pregnancies and has been shown to decrease rates of pre-term and low birthweight births.
These are historic investments and I pledge to fight to keep these investments in the final budget when we vote on it next year.
Virginia Budget to Preserve and Expand "Freedom House"
the Alexandria and National Historical Landmark of the Slave Trade
Isaac Franklin and John Armfield, the biggest domestic slave traders in the United States, had their headquarters in a building on Duke Street on the outskirts of Old Town.
It is essential to American history that the story of what happened here be told.
And now, with some help from the Virginia budget, it can be told and told well.
Pictures of Freedom House (formerly the offices of Franklin and Armfield) today and during the Civil War
Just on the outskirts of Old Town lay the ugly heart of the nation's largest slave trade...
I am very pleased to announce that Governor Northam included in his proposed budget the $2.4 million we requested to help the City of Alexandria purchase the Freedom House Museum. Alexandria purchasing the building, located at 1315 Duke Street in Old Town, will ensure that it can become an internationally-renowned museum documenting the evils of the slave trade then headquartered right here in Alexandria.
More than $2.4 million in the Virginia Budget for the Freedom House museum
Many Alexandrians don't realize that this otherwise nondescript building on Duke Street was once the office of the biggest slave-traders in the United States. Later, after being taken over by Union troops during the Civil War, the building was used as L'Ouverture Hospital for black soldiers, and as housing for the enslaved persons who escaped from captivity during the war
Although there has been for some time a tiny museum space in the basement of the building, this grant will finally allow the City of Alexandria to renovate and dedicate the entire building to telling the story of the slave trade and the horrors that happened in our city. I've long felt that the tiny museum did not give a subject of this historical weight its historical due.
We must always tell the entire long storied three-century history of Alexandria, which includes not only George Washington, Gadsby's Tavern, Christ Church, the apothecary, and the plotting of the French and Indian War at Carlisle House. It also includes the horror of slavery, the terror of the slave trade, and the uplifting story of free blacks and enslaved persons escaping from captivity and coming together to build Alexandria's nascent free modern African-American community.
Months ago, I toured the museum with Governor Northam and spoke with him personally about the critical need to preserve and expand this little museum, located in a building of landmark importance not only for Alexandria, or Virginia, but for the entire country. I am so gratified to announce Virginia's worthy investment in Alexandrian, African-American, and national history.
It's been a long time coming. Kudos to city officials and the Office of Historic Alexandria for their work on this. I'm proud to have done my part as well in helping to more fully bring this critical aspect of American history to the public to be understood and studied by many generations to come.
Historical Marker outside Freedom House
Fair Funding for Alexandria's Sewer Overhaul
And that's not all folks! I have even more good news for Alexandria!
The Governor's proposed budget allocates $65 million to help Alexandria with its sewage overhaul.
This problem also dates back to the nineteenth-century when Alexandria and hundreds of American cities had "state-of-the-art" sewers that had the revolutionary idea of not dumping raw sewage into the streets anymore, but instead pouring human sanitary waste in our rivers by mixing it with water from our storm drains. That was quite an advance in the 1800's. Not so much in the 21st century.
For almost two centuries now, Alexandria and almost a thousand east-coast cities and towns (including Washington, Baltimore, Richmond, and Lynchburg) have been polluting our waterways with raw sewage whenever it rains. And cleaning up the waste without pouring it into the Potomac is expensive, even though it only affects less than a square mile of the oldest part of Old Town. We have to build massive underground storage tanks, at a cost of close to $400 million. (That's the large extra charge on your sewer bill, Alexandrians!)
Ever since the General Assembly voted to require Alexandria to overhaul its 19th-century sewage system in 2017, I insisted to the Governor and to House Appropriations Chair Chris Jones (now former Delegate Chris Jones) that it was only fair that Alexandria -- like Richmond and Lynchburg before us -- get our fair share of state funds for this very expensive effort.
The process of getting Alexandria our fair share started in a budget amendment we passed last year for $25 million to go to the City for its sewer remediation project. That $25 million was important and helpful, but it wasn't enough. It brought us nowhere near getting the proportional amount of funds we deserved as compared to the amount that Richmond and Lynchburg received for their sewage overhauls.
The $65 million in the Governor's budget, combined with the $25 million already appropriated, brings the total amount appropriated to $90 million, which brings us closer in line with what the other Virginia cities received.
It is the fair thing to do.
And I am confident that the Democratic majority will keep the $65 million for Alexandria's sewage overhaul in the final budget. (Side note: aren't you glad, Alexandrians, that you helped elect a blue majority in 2019?)
Sunday, January 5, 4-6 pm:
Join me for my Back-to-Richmond Send-off
Put it on your Calendar Right Now!
Click above to RSVP
Please join me at the home of former Alexandria School Board member Helen Morris, 1500 Cameron Street in Alexandra, for my send-off on the night before I head back down to Richmond for the start of session.
Attend this event and you'll be in the very first group of people to hear my legislative agenda for 2020. I will discuss the majority's priorities and detail the many bills I'll be introducing this year.
You don't want to miss this event!
RSVP by clicking here
I would especially appreciate if you are able to donate at higher levels. I gave away almost $75,000 to candidates to give us a majority in 2019, leaving my campaign coffers depleted.
I will not ask for donations during the legislative session. So if you can contribute on or before January 5, it would be greatly appreciated!
If you can't attend either the Gerrymandering Game or the Back to Richmond event but still want to contribute to help pay for, among other things, the cost of sending this newsletter to you, or just because you appreciate my taking strong stances even when they are "politically dangerous," click here.
In the Community...
With a host of Alexandria elected officials, and the most honorable Mr. and Mrs. Claus,
at the Campagna Center's Scottish Walk.
At a LGBT issues forum hosted by the LGBT Democrats of Virginia,
along with my colleagues, Senators Adam Ebbin and Jennifer McClellan,
Delegate Mark Sickles, and Delegate-Elect Rodney Willett
Touring the Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray, right in the heart of the 45th.
Whenever a Presidential candidate visits the 45th district, I make an effort to see them
and share with them the issues that are important to the community I represent.
Most recently, I saw Mike Bloomberg.
Meeting with the Alexandria Democratic Committee's Labor Caucus, labor leaders,and Metro Board Member, Alexandria's own Paul Smedberg, to talk about contract negotiations and the need for transit workers to be paid good wages and be treated with dignity.
We had a major victory this week helping Fairfax Metro workers and ending the transit strike!
(Behind the scenes, I spoke to many of those involved to help reach a favorable resolution.)
We had a lively discussion at my last Monthly Meetup of 2019.
Learning about the legislative priorities of the Alexandria and Arlington School Boards.
At the Fairfax County Board's Legislative Briefing
(Play Where's Waldo! Can you spot me?)
A packed house attended the redistricting reform debate where I debated Brian Cannon,
Executive Director of OneVirginia2021. Thanks again to the Arlington Committee of 100 for hosting.
I joined another packed house to see Parisa Dehghani-Tafti sworn in
as the new Commonwealth's Attorney for Arlington and Falls Church.
At Del Ray's annual Christmas tree lighting
Please Join Me!
I personally participate at the events in red.
And I host the events in blue.
Wednesday, December 18
7:30 am - 9:30 am
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington's
Temple Rodef Shalom
2100 Westmoreland Street, Falls Church
Thursday, December 19
Potomac Yard Metro Station Groundbreaking!
The Future Location of the Station's Northwest Entrance
3601 Potomac Avenue, Alexandria
Thursday, December 19
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Swearing in of Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey
to the Arlington County Board
Arlington County Building
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Room 307, Arlington
Thursday, December 19
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Arlington Delegation Public Hearing
Arlington County Board Room
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Room 300, Arlington
Friday, December 20
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Gerrymandering is Not a Game
Home of Greg Parks and David Lord
1005 Russell Road, Alexandria
Thursday, January 2
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Alexandria Delegation Public Hearing
Alexandria City Hall
City Council Chambers (Third Floor)
301 King Street, Alexandria
Sunday, January 5
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
and Legislation Announcement
Home of Helen Morris
1500 Cameron Street, Alexandria
Monday, January 6
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Alexandria Democratic Committee Meeting
Minnie Howard School
3801 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria
Wednesday, January 8
Start of the 2020 Legislative Session
Virginia State Capitol
1000 Bank Street, Richmond
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year to everyone.
It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District