30th State Senate District Democratic Primary Race Heats Up

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    The 30th State Senate district Democratic primary race (to succeed Sen. Patsy Ticer, who is retiring) heated up significantly today. Two of the candidates, Libby Garvey and Rob Krupicka, went at each other, while the third candidate – Del. Adam Ebbin – has so far (wisely?) stayed out of it. The sequence of events was as follows:

    1. The Garvey campaign sent out a press statement (see the “flip”) at around 1:30 pm, expressing her “outrage” over the “BRAC” (Base Relocation and Closure) facility slated to open this September on Seminary Road in Alexandria off I-395 at the “Mark Winkler site”. According to the Garvey campaign, the Mark Center is “an absolutely unacceptable site for this building,” in particular due to the expected, horrendous traffic mess this is expected to produce when it opens for operations. The Garvey campaign specifically points the finger at the Alexandria City Council, of which Rob Krupicka is a member, for not preventing this situation.

    2. The Krupicka campaign responded with a short statement (see on the “flip” as well) stating that, “Like everyone in our community, I’m opposed to the BRAC location and think it should have been located near a Metro.” The statement added, “I’m disappointed that Libby has decided to take her campaign on the attack.”

    3. The Krupicka campaign sent out a fundraising email, charging the Garvey campaign with going “on the attack, distorting my record of protecting the Winkler Botanical Preserve and dismissing my record of leadership on transit and transportation for our community.”

    I’m attempting to figure out what the truth is behind all these charges, back and forth. So far, what I’ve concluded is two things: a) that this is a thorny, complicated, and highly charged issue; and b) that this could be a hard-hitting primary campaign for months to come. I also find it interesting that this heated back-and-forth is coming so early in the campaign, when hardly anybody’s paying any attention. Obviously, there’s “strategery” going on here, I’m just not sure what it is exactly.

    Libby Garvey Statement on Outrage over BRAC-133 Location

    The BRAC building, scheduled to open in September on Seminary Road, will change forever the lives of most of us who live along the I-395 corridor.  Although it is hard to imagine traffic congestion much worse than it is now, it will be once that building opens in September.

    Efforts continue to mitigate the effects on traffic from the addition of the 6,400 people expected to work there. On March 16th, I attended the BRAC-133 meeting in order to learn more about what is planned. After listening to so many residents of Alexandria and the greater Northern Virginia region who are upset about this situation, I agree with their conclusion: this building never should have been built there in the first place.  All we can do now is attempt to mitigate the terrible impacts of the decision to put this building in this location.

    But, we need to do more than mitigate the damage this building will cause.  We must also make sure something like this never happens again.

    Who is responsible for allowing this building to be put there in the first place?  A letter, dated August 2008 and now posted to my website, has been brought to my attention from the Alexandria City Manager to the Department Defense (DOD) that documents the City Council’s support of placing this huge building at the Seminary Road site.

    You can only imagine my surprise and anger when I read that the Council (including Rob Krupicka, one of my opponents for the Virginia 30th State Senate seat) made decisions and reached conclusions like those reflected in the excerpts from this letter quoted below:

    The City of Alexandria supports the location of the Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to either the Mark Winkler or to the Victory Center site.  Both sites are quality locations which can well meet WHS requirements now and far into the future…

    In the case of the Mark Center, traffic studies undertaken when the City approved the Mark Center office density carefully determined what roadway improvement would be necessary.  This includes the widening off Seminary Road and the expansion of the turning capacity from Seminary Road into the Mark Center site.  With these improvements, which are to be made at developer’s expense, City staff is comfortable that sufficient capacity will be created by the proposed and developer-agreed to [sic] improvements and that no additional transportation studies are warranted.  Since Duke Realty is funding these road improvements, this site does not require any Defense Access Roads funding. (Letter of Assistant City Manager expressing the opinion of the Council regarding the BRAC-133 site, August 13, 2008)

    Instead of providing DOD with conclusions like those quoted above, here’s what I believe a proper version of the Council’s 2008 letter should have stated:

    *The Mark Winkler site is an absolutely unacceptable site for this building, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that it is never built there.

    *By contrast, the Victory Center site seems to have many advantages, including Metro accessibility, and we would like to work with you to confirm that this site is otherwise acceptable.

    *We will plan to hold one or more public meetings to obtain citizen input on this process.

    Instead, we now are stuck with a terrible situation and a plan to mitigate traffic congestion that will not even be completed until 2014, at the earliest.  I join with Sen. Webb, Sen. Warner, Rep. Moran and Rep. Connolly in their request to the Defense Department that they delay fully staffing the BRAC-133 facility until traffic mitigation efforts are completed.  I applaud the efforts of the members of the BRAC-133 Advisory Group who have worked so hard and stood up for their neighborhoods and their quality of life.  From what I witnessed last night, these activists feel ignored and overpowered by both the Department of Defense and the Alexandria City Council.  This should never happen in our community. A true solution to this disaster requires the input of all those who will be affected.  The solution must also include mass transit opportunities that make sense now and in the future for this region.

    I believe strongly that we should judge public officials by the decisions they make. In this case, Rob Krupicka, one of my opponents for the Senate seat currently held by Patsy Ticer, made a terrible decision by giving the DOD a green light to locate the BRAC building at the Mark Center site. His candidacy for the Virginia Senate, like that of all of us running for that important position, should be evaluated according to the quality of our decisions.

    Rob Krupicka’s statement

    Like everyone in our community, I’m opposed to the BRAC location and think it should have been located near a Metro. I’m disappointed that Libby has decided to take her campaign on the attack. This is a race between three good Democrats, and I intend to run a campaign that my supporters can be proud of, a campaign about new ideas to move us forward.

    I’m focused on what’s next. I’m working to ensure we have dedicated transit corridors that connect Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax, which will improve the quality of life of our community. One of the reasons I’m running for Senate is to work with colleagues from around the region to enact better transportation policy and funding solutions that will help move us forward.

    • But I have to say, just as a personal thing, that I really hate fundraising letters that go out so the candidate can “fight back” against “attacks” from his/her opponent.   There are a lot of Dems out there that don’t need to be made angry to fight on their candidate’s behalf!

    • satiricalalexandria

      I live in Alexandria, so I definitely have a dog in this fight. Rob has always been a supporter of transportation relief, things like metro, bike lanes, etc. At the time of that city letter, no one knew that the BRAC was going to expand to what it is now, and public hearings were held -lots of them, and they continue. Libby writes what her response would have been, but the language and tone are not realistic. It sounds more like something I’d tweet! She’s grandstanding for the crowd, which I understand, but we’re all good Dems here and she makes us all look bad. I also didn’t like when she stood up before the Alexandria Democratic Committee and said, and I quote “My husband dropped dead.” That was very poor form. Such a blatant bid for the sympathy vote might work on an uninformed crowd, but this was a room full of active and engaged Dems. I felt she insulted our intelligence and I know a lot of others did as well. That being said, let this be a clean race between three good candidates, no mudslinging, so we all look clean.