Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Lots of congratulations are in order:
Congratulations to Democrats winning the House of Representatives last night.
Congratulations to Senator Tim Kaine and Congressman Don Beyer.
Congratulations to Virginia's New Members-Elect of Congress Jennifer Wexton, Abigail Spanberger, and Elaine Luria.

Have you made your plan to vote? Do you know your polling location? Do you know how you're getting to the polls? I am walking to my polling location, Ladrey Senior Center, at 10:30 am tomorrow, and I am bringing my driver's license as ID. 

My usual newsletter will come out as a separate post. But sometimes, I'm moved to poetry. And that seems to work better in a separate email.

As I write this newsletter, I'm watching CNN. I'm simultaneously horrified, depressed, and enraged. It is reported that a well-armed gun enthusiast, with a long history of posting hateful comments about Jews, took his licensed AR-15 assault weapon and gunned down worshippers at a baby-naming ceremony at a Shabbat service while shouting, "All Jews must die!" 11 are dead. 6 are injured, including the brave law enforcement who confronted him.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You may already know how domestic violence has affected my family. If you don't, you can learn more by reading this 2015 article in the Washington Post about my fight for justice for my sister and my family. Because of how personal this issue is for me, fighting for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence has been one of my top priorities since long before I was first elected. This month, I participated in numerous public awareness events and behind-the-scenes strategizing with women's advocates to make sure we do everything in our power to stop the scourge of domestic and sexual violence.

I will send my ordinary newsletter soon. But for now, I send this plea from the heart. This confirmation process has made it clear that we need more women in power. At the local, state, and federal levels. We Democrats have almost achieved parity but not quite. Republicans are a long way off.

Alexandria Renew, our sanitation facility, is seeking public input on RiverRenew, the city's initiative to overhaul its19th-century combined rainfall/sewage overflow system. A state law passed in 2017 required Alexandria to remediate all four of its combined sewer outfalls by July 1, 2025. You can learn more about the project hereClick here for details on possible comment topics.

As Florence approaches the Carolinas -- further south than originally expected -- the level of concern for major damage up here as receded a bit. Still, an influx of onshore winds at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay should cause water levels to increase. A Coastal Flood Watch has been posted for southern MD, DC, and Alexandria, and accompanying rainfall may produce significant river flooding across the entire Commonwealth.

Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the potential impact of Hurricane Florence and ordered the evacuation of low-lying coastal areas of Virginia

While the impacts are still uncertain, forecasts increasingly expect Florence, which was first classified as a tropical storm, to strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane (~130 mph winds) that could affect the East Coast, including Virginia, next week. Impacts could include flooding, high winds, and a possible storm surge. While Northern Virginia is not expected to be in the eye of the storm, people should start preparing for the storm now, especially considering that Alexandria is especially prone to flooding.

Ultimately, elected officials must be taken completely out of the redistricting process. I believe we must amend the Virginia Constitution to require an independent, non-partisan commission to draw all our district maps for both state and federal elections. The partisan division of districts should reflect the overall partisan divisions of the Commonwealth.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has ordered the legislature to go back into special session on August 30 to undo the scourge of the racial gerrymandering which the US Supreme Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found the Republicans illegally imposed on Virginia in 2011. The Courts held the Virginia GOP illegally drew 11 House of Delegates districts for the purpose of concentrating black voters so as to diminish their (and Democrats') power in Virginia's House of Delegates.