Excerpted from The Virginian-Pilot
April 17, 2016
The 49-year-old Alexander came up in the classic political fashion, starting with the presidency of his senior class at Lake Taylor High. He was president of the Beacon Light Civic League and vice chairman of the city Planning Commission before he won his first House of Delegates election in 2002. He ran unopposed to succeed state Sen. Yvonne Miller after her death in 2012. Alexander’s name has been bandied about for statewide office for years, and it is unusual for a member of the General Assembly to run for local office. But Norfolk is his hometown, and he clearly recognizes the moment.
Alexander, who owns Metropolitan Funeral Service, has political supporters in critical positions from Norfolk to Hampton Roads to Richmond to Washington. They include a bipartisan roster in the General Assembly, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
If it will be difficult to fill Fraim’s chair, Alexander seems most ready. A legislator’s focus, by definition, must be on balancing what’s good for his district and what’s good for the state.
Being mayor of Norfolk requires balancing all the needs of all the neighborhoods and wards. It requires serving sometimes restive constituencies that compete for limited resources. It requires bringing everyone together for common cause. In Richmond, Alexander showed his ability to do that.
Being mayor of Norfolk also carries a regional role, a fact Fraim forgot occasionally. Alexander’s membership on the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, charged with spending billions in regional money on transportation projects, has sharpened his regional focus.
As it becomes increasingly critical for Hampton Roads to unite around its challenges — transportation, economic development, sea-level rise, public safety, education — political leaders here must strive beyond the parochial and familiar solutions.
Alexander’s experience means he begins in the best position to lead not just Norfolk but to be a force for regional advancement.
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