Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Newsletter - November 28, 2019

Read other newsletters

On the website,
 via email,
 on Facebook,
 or on Twitter.

Or by mail and phone:

Richmond Office:
Pocahontas Building
900 East Main Street, Suite E208
Richmond, VA 23219

Alexandria Office:
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thinking about all the reasons I have to give thanks. I am grateful for you -- the 45th District voters who trust me to represent my constituents' values in Richmond -- and the others outside the District who receive this newsletter and want to keep informed about what I do and try to do.

I am grateful to live in such a beautiful, vibrant community with such smart, engaged constituents. I am grateful to be able to work hand-in-hand with so many constituents, allies, and colleagues to make our Commonwealth a better place for all. 

So before diving into the newsletter, I simply want to say, from the bottom of my heart: 

Thank You!

Now on to the "fun" stuff:

A Primer on Gerrymandering

Don't miss tomorrow's newsletter!

The original Gerry-Mander. Details in tomorrow's newsletter...

Today's newsletter is a relatively normal one. I show you how I saved you some money on your utility bills, and I welcome a new House Clerk. I give you some information on a temporary closure of the Alexandria DMV, and I express my support for higher airport-worker pay. And, as always, there are news articles and photos in the community.

But if you have to skip today's newsletter, I want to especially encourage you to open your email tomorrow.

Tomorrow, before you go shopping for Black Friday, I invite you to read -- or at least save -- my primer on Gerrymandering 101 and why I oppose the proposal to amend Virginia's Constitution, which, I believe, will make gerrymandering much, much worse.

My argument in a nutshell:

The people should be able to choose their representatives. We should not have district lines drawn by the Virginia Supreme Court -- an unelected, unrepresentative body chosen entirely by the illegally-gerrymandered Republican General Assembly.

By putting Republican control of our district lines in the Virginia Constitution, I fear we could have a situation where the judges -- not the people -- choose the legislators,

who, in turn, choose the judges
who, in turn, choose the legislature,
who, in turn, choose the judges,
who, in turn, choose the legislature,
who, in turn, choose the judges,
who, in turn, choose the legislature,

in a vicious loop.......forever and ever and ever.

Because this dangerous proposal would be put in the Virginia Constitution,
We the People of Virginia would become powerless to ever reclaim our Government:

1) our elected Governor would be removed entirely from redistricting;
2) unelected judges would remain chosen by the legislature; and
3) the legislature itself would be chosen by the very judges they appoint, judges who could then gerrymander district lines to ensure a favorable conservative legislature for their reappointment.

Once amended in this fashion, the Virginia Constitution could never be unamended, because amendment requires legislative action.

It's a scary and very dangerous proposition.

I know what some of you are thinking:

-- "Seems unbelievable"

-- "What about the Citizen's Commission that's supposed to draw the lines?"

-- "I thought the amendment was designed to prevent gerrymandering. Not make it worse..."

All very important thoughts. Which is why you will not want to miss tomorrow's newsletter, which will discuss the issue in exhaustive detail. But If you really can't wait, you can just click on the Blue Virginia news article in the upper left or click below and watch the first twelve minutes as I explain the problem in some detail.

I will lay out the argument in full tomorrow, along with a primer on everything you have ever wanted to know about gerrymandering.

I also encourage you to attend a debate I'll be having with Brian Cannon, Executive Director of OneVirginia2021, on December 11, where we will have an in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of the constitutional amendment.

Debate with Brian Cannon of OneVirginia2021 on Redistricting
Wednesday, December 11
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Marymount University - Phelan Hall
2807 N. Glebe Road, Arlington

RSVP Here (for free!)

I refuse to quietly accept baking an unrepresentative
Republican majority into the Virginia Constitution forevermore.

Stay tuned!

Successfully Demanding Regulators Reject Dominion's Attempt at a Profit Increase

In a victory for Virginians, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) just denied Dominion Energy's request to increase its profit rate to 10.75% and cost ratepayers an extra $147 million in the process. 

The SCC chose to maintain Dominion Energy’s current 9.2% rate of return on equity, which they found “consistent with the public interest” and “reasonably balances the interests of [Dominion], its customers, and its investors.” The Office of the Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Counsel had proposed an ROE of 8.75%. 

In early September, 35 of my General Assembly colleagues and I sent a joint letter to the SCC urging them to reject Dominion's request for a higher rate. I'm happy to see the SCC listened to us and the many others who submitted public comments urging the SCC reject Dominion's request.

Read our letter by clicking here.

As a state-regulated utility, it is part of my job to hold Dominion accountable and make sure they do not overcharge the people of Virginia.  

The Next Clerk of the House: Suzette Denslow

Our House Speaker-designee Eileen Filler-Corn has nominated Suzette Denslow to be the next Clerk of the House and Keeper of the Rolls of the Commonwealth. The Clerk is charged with making sure the House operates effectively and efficiently.

Ms. Denslow currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Ralph Northam and has extensive experience in Virginia government, having served in the Administrations of Governors Doug Wilder, Terry McAuliffe, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. She also worked for the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission and served as Chief of Staff to Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.

Suzette Denslow will succeed G. Paul Nardo, who has been House Clerk since 2011. Mr. Nardo was formerly Chief of Staff to Republican Speaker Howell and Speechwriter for former Republican Virginia Governor George Allen. But despite this partisan background, Paul was personally attentive to all of us, whether Republican or Democrat, as a House Clerk should be.

Suzette is expected to be elected by the full House of Delegates when we are sworn in on January 8, 2020. She will be the first woman in Virginia history to hold the post, although the Senate has had a female clerk, Susan Clarke Schaar, since 1990.

Alexandria DMV Temporarily Closed for Renovations from December 12 to January 13

The DMV’s Alexandria Customer Service Center (CSC), located at 2681 Mill Road, will temporarily close for an interior renovation after the close of business on Wednesday, December 11, 2019. It is expected to reopen to the public Monday, January 13, 2020.

Customers are encouraged to conduct transactions online at or visit a DMV Select, mobile office, or another CSC. With Mill Road temporarily closed, the closest open DMVs to the 45th District are 4150 S Four Mile Run Drive in Arlington and 6306 Grovedale Drive in Alexandria (Fairfax County).

Staff from the Alexandria office will work in nearby CSCs during the closure to offset increased customer traffic.

Renovations to the Alexandria office will allow for more efficient customer flow and minimize wait times. The improvements will help DMV customers complete their transactions more efficiently. These improvements include:

  • adding five service windows, bringing the total number of windows to 21.
  • adding nine cameras to service windows so driver’s license transactions can be completed more quickly.
  • A new countertop design will allow for a more efficient customer flow.

Seeking Better Pay for Airport Workers

American Airlines catering workers held sit-in protests at Reagan National Airport demanding higher pay and better access to healthcare.

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority is the authority that oversees the management, operation, and capital development of our area's two main airports: Dulles and National. There is currently a raise slated for January 1, 2020 that would raise wages to $12.75 an hour, but I believe, given the cost of living in Northern Virginia, that airport workers need higher wages to afford living here. So I recently joined 13 of my General Assembly colleagues in writing Jack Potter, the CEO of MWAA, to say that all airport workers should receive an hourly wage of at least $15 by 2023.

Read our letter by clicking here.

Regardless of whether or not MWAA raises the minimum wage for their employees to $15 or more by the end of 2023, I believe the Virginia General Assembly may do it for them. I suspect our Democratic majority will pass legislation in just a few months to raise the minimum wage, most likely to $15 per hour and probably phased in over the course of some years.

I will "fight for fifteen" and for indexing the minimum wage thereafter so we don't have to pass a law to increase the minimum wage each year as inflation erodes its value over time. 

In the Community...

Joint work session with members of the Alexandria City Council
and fellow members of Alexandria's General Assembly Delegation.
(I'm on left, second from the end.)

Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Torpedo Factory
with my predecessor and Torpedo Factory founder Marian Van Landingham,
Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Alexandria City Council
member Amy Jackson, and my fellow Delegate David Bulova.

At the 45th Anniversary of the Torpedo Factory Art Center with Brett Johnson,
Director of TFAC, and Alexandria City Council Member Amy Jackson

At the Fairfax County Public Schools' Legislative Briefing with colleagues
Delegate-elect(!) Dan Helmer,Delegates Marcus Simon and Kathy Tran,
and our next House Speaker, Eileen Filler-Corn.

The Arlington Delegation previewing the 2020 session
for members of the Arlington County Civic Federation.

Speaking at the launch of Safer Country, a gun safety advocacy
organization founded by my constituent Paul Friedman.

 Meeting with constituents in the Arlington Action Group
discussing what's in store for the 2020 session.

Upcoming Events

Please Join Me!
(I personally participate in the events in red.)

Sunday, December 1
8:30 pm - 11:30 pm
Close Up Foundation
Domestic Issues Debate with Republican

Hilton Crystal City
2399 VA-110, Arlington

Monday, December 2
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Alexandria Democratic Committee Monthly Meeting

Minnie Howard School
3801 W Braddock, Alexandria

Tuesday, December 3
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Work Session with Arlington County Board

Arlington County Board Room, Room 307
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington

Wednesday, December 4
10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Advisory Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence 

Libbie Mill Henrico County Public Library, Meeting Room
2100 Libbie Lake East Street, Henrico


Sunday, December 8
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Mark's Monthly Meetup

Los Tios
2615 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Del Ray

Last meet-up before session begins!

Wednesday, December 11
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Gerrymandering Debate
with Bryan Cannon of OneVirginia2021

Marymount University - Phelan Hall
2807 N. Glebe Road, Arlington

RSVP Here (for free!)

Gonna be quite a debate!

I thank you for the honor and privilege of representing you.

And please read my Primer on Gerrymandering tomorrow.

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