- Adopt an ethics panel, and a code of ethics with teeth
In the post-Trump era, it seems more important than ever that government, at every level, should earn the trust of its citizens and taxpayers. That is a legacy dating back to the early Virginian, George Washington, and made a critical part of our heritage under President Lincoln. Just as Congress has an Ethics Committee to hold every Member of the House and Senate accountable to the people, so too, I believe that Alexandria ought to have a strong ethics code with independent accountability to its citizens and taxpayers. I appreciate that Alexandria, a number of years ago, appointed an Ethics Committee to make recommendations for that very purpose; however, the Council chose not to make those a part of the code or to adopt a means to ensure independent accountability to the city’s citizens and taxpayers. If elected, I would urge the Council to name a study group to report to the Mayor and Council–and the citizens and taxpayers of our city-on cities and counties which have been deemed especially effective in protecting public trust.
Why is this important?
If you’ve been engaged with the city for any amount of time, you’ve probably got the feeling that the city doesn’t always deal with residents in an open and honest way. In fact, many in the city feel that there’s a real ethics gap where our city government is concerned. The fact that previous city officials couldn’t pass anything but the most watered down ethical standards in 2016 probably tells you something about our city government.
I’d like to take another look at the committee’s recommendations and adopt changes that would have some teeth and increase trust in our local government. I believe that the city government should be working with and for residents in an open and transparent way. Sometimes, we don’t get what we want, and that’s ok. But when that’s the case, there should be compelling reasons for why the city has made the decision it’s making, not poor excuses. All too often in Alexandria, that’s not the case.
I’d like to acknowledge Frank Shafroth for his help in crafting this page.