Alexandria Democrats are lining up to run for City Council seats in the June 12 primary, with more than two months until the filing deadline.
The latest to seek a seat on the six-person council is Canek Aguirre, 32, chair of the local economic opportunities commission and president of the board of Tenants and Workers United.
Aguirre, who worked in community relations for a major health-care provider and for local schools with at-risk students, said he wants to "bring a much-needed voice to the council for people who are often not heard."
He will find plenty of competition. Four of the six incumbents, all Democrats, are running for reelection (council member Timothy Lovain (D) announced last fall he will not run for another term, and Vice Mayor Justin Wilson (D) is challenging incumbent Mayor Allison Silberberg (D)). Five other non-incumbents have also announced their intention to run, and that may not be the last of the candidates, Alexandria Democratic Committee chair Clarence Tong said.
All local elected officials are elected citywide for three-year terms. For the past 14 years, they have been paid $27,500 (the mayor earns $30,500), but the council recently asked the manager to form a committee to study and recommend whether those wages should be increased. The current council cannot raise its own pay; it can only act on salaries for the next council.
Alexandria's Democratic Party is enjoying a record-high number of dues-paying members, doubling to 270 from two years ago, Tong said. The mayoral primary race is expected to draw a lot of attention this spring, as competitors Wilson and Silberberg have worked side-by-side since 2012.
Alexandria's Republican committee has not yet announced any candidates for mayor or council.
The Democratic challengers who have announced their council candidacies also include:
Dak Hardwick, 41, former chairman of the local Democratic Party and past chair of the local Chamber of Commerce, who announced his intention to run a business-friendly campaign in October.
Mohamed "Mo" Seifeldein, 34, an attorney in private practice who was born in Sudan. He has challenged his opponents to reject donations from developers and corporations.
Amy Jackson, 46, a former Fairfax County teacher who served on Alexandria's Commission for Women and the boards of the Fund for Alexandria's Child and Senior Services of Alexandria. She said she will focus on school funding and overcrowding, as well as growing the economy.
Robert Ray IV, 57, owner of an Old Town antiques store, who said he plans to focus on improving connections between the community and Alexandria's multiple appointed commissions and task forces. Proposed solutions from those panels, he said, "really seem predetermined."
Ashkan Bayatpour, 33, a Navy veteran and the son of Iranian immigrants. He has not yet formally filed his papers with the city's election registrar, but he has set up a website and social media pages, and told the local Democratic committee that he plans to run.
Incumbents seeking reelection are first-term council member Willie F. Bailey Sr.; John Taylor Chapman, in office since 2012; Redella S. "Del" Pepper, a 33-year incumbent; and Paul Smedberg, who has been on the council since 2003.