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 here. Click 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.
Salem Republican Delegate Greg Habeeb announced last Friday that he is resigning in the middle of his fourth term, effective August 31. This is great news and not only because Delegate Habeeb, as subcommittee chairman of various committees, made it his regular practice to kill hundreds of common-sense progressive measures that helped Virginians. The special election to decide the next Delegate from Virginia's 8th District will take place on November 6, 2018, the same day as the General Election for Congress. The Democratic nominee for this Southwestern Virginia seat in Salem, Roanoke County, and adjoining rural counties should be determined on Wednesday, August 15.
On Saturday, July 21st, I had the honor of being the first ever state-elected official to speak at the Shenandoah Valley Pride Festival. Unfortunately, state officials representing the Shenandoah Valley all oppose equal rights for the Rainbow (LGBT+) Community. But it was wonderful to see the love, solidarity, perseverance, and yes, pride, of local Rainbow folk. I was glad to show the thousands of people who enjoyed the day's festivities that they do have people fighting for them in Richmond.
Thank you to the almost 200 people who came out to support Mission 51: a Democratic majority in the House of Delegates. This was our biggest Fireworks on the Potomac yet! We celebrated Alexandria's birthday, ate amazing food, watched the incredible fireworks, and most importantly, raised thousands of dollars to turn the Virginia legislature blue. With energy like this, the blue wave that started in 2017 won't be ending anytime soon.