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Alexandria City Council Race 2024: Q&A with Jacinta Greene

This spring, Alexandria Living Magazine sent the following questions to anyone running for city council from May 2024. Jacinta Greene’s answers are below. View links to all other candidate questionnaires here.

Greene currently serves on the Alexandria City Public Schools school board. His campaign website is at jacintagreene.com.

Have current efforts to improve affordable housing been sufficient? Why or why not?

While I support the work that has already been done, it is simply not enough. A study by the Urban Institute found that we need 20,000 additional homes by 2030 to meet our housing needs. The city noted that there has been a 62% decline in affordable rental housing in Alexandria between 2000 and 2021. Although we have made progress, we have not yet overcome our losses, nor have we reached the numbers we need. Beyond the raw numbers, affordability will never be an effort if we achieve enough. It will have to be something we continually work on and it will be a top priority for me if elected.

What can be done to ensure that Alexandria’s increasing population density does not harm its quality of life?

I think that if we ensure that we are smart and tactical with our development, we can go a long way. In the short term, we need to ensure that the increased density goes where the infrastructure, and especially transport, can handle it. In the long term, this means our infrastructure across the city can handle population growth. In addition, I think it is also crucial to engage with the community along the way. While we can’t involve everyone in every decision, we need to make sure everyone feels heard and address concerns where possible.

How can the city make public transportation a more viable and attractive option for its residents?

Reliability is key. If people can’t count on public transportation to get them where they want to go efficiently and consistently, they won’t use it. That is the area where I think we should primarily focus our efforts. I believe exploring discounted and free routes in tactical locations is also worthwhile. Cities across the country have had success with this tactic, and we should at least explore its feasibility in Alexandria.

In addition to these proven tactics, I think it’s critical to get input from the community and find out what’s keeping them off public transit. We can theorize all we want about what might work, but if we go straight to the source, we will gain valuable insights into how to promote public transportation.

What do you think is the most important factor in making the roads safer and more efficient for everyone?

I think, as noted above, promoting public transportation is the most important factor. As more people use public transport, the number of cars on the road will decrease, reducing the risk of accidents and increasing efficiency. I believe that we need to move away from a car-centric view of transport and bring it into greater balance with other modes of transport.

What are the biggest challenges facing Alexandria’s smallest businesses and how can the city better support them?

Retaining qualified employees is the biggest challenge facing small businesses in Alexandria. As costs continue to rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult to live in Alexandria. As a member of the City Council, I will ensure we focus on a dedicated workforce housing program so workers can live and work in our city. This will reduce maintenance and quality of life problems.

Do you think Alexandria should return to district representation? Why or why not?

I do not believe that ward representation is appropriate for Alexandria. I truly believe there is a great need for residents from all parts of Alexandria to feel like they are being heard on important issues facing our city.

What do you not like about Alexandria and want to change?

I find the number of residents of color who have had to leave Alexandria over the past twenty years due to affordability issues disturbing. I firmly believe that everyone who wants to live in Alexandria should have the opportunity to do so. We need to ensure that young professionals, single-income households, seniors, etc. are not priced out of the market or taxed. With smart economic development and diversification of our tax revenues, this can be achieved.

What are your thoughts on the fate of the Potomac Yard Arena development proposal and how do you think the city should develop that site?

I saw the great opportunity in the Potomac Yard Arena project. It was intended to diversify our tax base and improve the city’s fiscal situation. But there were far too many unanswered questions leading up to the project’s death. As a resident of the Potomac Yard area, I was particularly concerned about the lack of details on housing. Also in the areas of transport and environment, there were not enough guarantees and support from the developer and the state to allay my concerns.

I think we need a more robust redevelopment for that area than what was initially approved. We should use it as an opportunity to diversify our tax base. I would like to see something similar to what has been done in areas in the region such as Shirlington, Mosaic District, the DC Wharf and other developments in our region. That said, I think different types of housing should be part of the equation.

In addition to housing and entertainment, I think we should also try to take advantage of the proximity to the upcoming Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. I think the campus, as well as its proximity to Amazon’s headquarters, provides a unique opportunity to integrate a business support center and other business resources into the redevelopment.

Do you think the current city staff is capable of effectively serving all the development that is happening, or do you think the city needs to hire more people?

I feel that the current city staff is capable of effectively serving all the development that is taking place. However, I am strongly in favor of a staffing review if we continue to increase the workload on our staff. We must always take into account work-life balance and employee retention.

What would you say to a resident who doesn’t feel safe in Alexandria?

I would say to them that it is clear that we have faced a number of challenges with rising crime, and I support the efforts that have been made so far to tackle this problem. Going forward, I believe we need to ensure that our public safety officers have the resources and training they need to do their jobs well. But I also think we need to make sure we address the root causes of crime: economic instability and the lack of services in our community. People who get their needs met and believe they have a chance to build the life they want to live don’t turn to crime. If we underinvest in our communities on the front end, we will pay for it on the back end. Finally, I would like to say to them that public safety will always be a top priority for me if elected to the City Council.

If you had to convince someone to vote for you in one sentence, what would that sentence be?

My experience in government and business, as well as my decades of involvement in the Alexandria community, will allow me to hit the ground running on day one and fight for and make the things important to Alexandria a reality.