Allison Silberberg wins mayoral election, will be joined by six other Democrats on city council

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By Erich Wagner and Chris Teale (Photo/Bill Starrels)

Article updated November 5, 9 a.m.

Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg easily fought off the challenge of incumbent Mayor Bill Euille’s write-in campaign to become Alexandria’s next mayor and continue a period of Democratic dominance on city council.

With all precincts reporting, Silberberg took 16,554 votes for 63 percent, ahead of all write-ins with 9,702 votes for 37 percent. She will be joined on the dais by all six of her Democratic colleagues, including City Councilor Justin Wilson, who will become the new vice mayor by virtue of his accruing the most votes of all 11 candidates at 15,815. Fellow incumbents Paul Smedberg, Del Pepper, John Chapman and Tim Lovain will be joined by Willie Bailey, who won his first ever race for office.

Bailey fought off a spirited challenge from Bob Wood (R), who finished in seventh place with 11,532 votes to Bailey’s 13,482. Republicans Monique Miles, who secured 11,260 votes, Fernando Torrez and Townsend “Van” Van Fleet followed in the polls, with Independent Phil Cefaratti finishing last.

In the races for seats in the Virginia General Assembly, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) easily fought off a challenge from Independent Green candidate J. Ron Fisher, winning nearly 77 percent of the vote. Mark Levine, the Democratic candidate for delegate in District 45, was unopposed and won 95 percent of the vote, while Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46) defeated Republican Sean Lenehan with 67 percent of ballots cast.

At her election night party at Los Tios on Mount Vernon Avenue, Silberberg called the result a “new day” for Alexandria, to raucous applause. Euille, meanwhile, spent his election night at his headquarters on North Fairfax Street at an event campaign manager Eric Williams said was an opportunity to thank his supporters and campaign workers rather than purely focus on the outcome.

“We were outgunned, outmanned and out-financed, but the numbers tonight are unbelievable,” Silberberg told her supporters. “I’m extremely grateful for the city’s support. It is a new day and a time for change, and that’s what voters said across the city. We have a shared sense of purpose that I will stand for going forward.”

The two met at the Democrats’ celebration at Pork Barrel BBQ on Mount Vernon Avenue, where Euille conceded and congratulated the vice mayor on her win. The candidates hugged, and then each city councilor hugged the four-term mayor in turn.

“I said I wouldn’t cry,” Euille said, holding back tears. “But this is a family, and it’s all about love and respect. I want to congratulate Allison on an excellent, outstanding campaign, and my support will be there for her and for all of council always.

“I will work with the mayor-elect to ensure a smooth transition so that the city can continue to move forward.”

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne said in an interview that although he supported Silberberg in the mayoral race, this year’s election should not tarnish Euille’s strong legacy at the city’s helm.

“Bill Euille has been good for our city and has served us well,” Lawhorne said. “Nobody can take that away from him. Allison won the election and it’s time for us to move forward, but he served with honor and we are all appreciative of that.”

So why did Democrats sweep the council elections, despite expectations of an anti-incumbent sentiment? According to Dak Hardwick, a longtime political insider and former chairman of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, it might have been Euille’s write-in effort.

“You’ve essentially got two Democrats running [for mayor], and they’re both hitting hardcore Democratic voters and informing them about the election,” he said. “That naturally drove up Democratic turnout. I thought the write-in effort might drive up Republican turnout, but the opposite happened.”

At the Democrats’ party, successful candidates took turns thanking supporters, passing a broom from speaker to speaker to celebrate sweeping the local election.

“We did it,” shouted Chapman. “We showed that folks who are ill-prepared do not get a chance to lead this city.”

“We heard mistruths, and we responded with facts. We heard pessimism and responded with optimism,” Wilson said. “We knew that when presented with doomsday scenarios, voters will turn out to endorse those with a positive vision for this city every day.”

And Bailey expressed gratitude for all who encouraged him to run for office.

“Wow,” he told supporters. “Growing up in Del Ray, when it was probably a little bit rougher of a neighborhood than it is today, I never knew that I would be able to have the opportunity to give back to the city that has done so much for me.”

Meanwhile, the mood at the Republicans’ election night party at Daniel O’Connell’s was initially optimistic, especially as the first precinct — City Hall — came through with Bob Wood leading the way followed by his Republican colleagues. But the mood soured quickly as results from the other 27 precincts rolled in, with both Wood and Monique Miles managing to get more than 11,000 votes but still finishing behind Bailey and the other Democrats.

Wood said he may not run for city council in future years, although he was proud of his effort this campaign.

“I’m very proud of the campaign we ran,” he said. “I’m pleased with the representation that we had across the city across party lines. I think there was a true vote for change, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Democratic machine that runs this city.

“[I] haven’t made that decision [to run again], but there’s other things to do. I love this city and maybe there’s other ways to serve, but this isn’t something you put your family through too many times.”

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41 COMMENTS

    • The people have spoken all right. But what they said is that the only thing that matters is the Democratic Party. I guess that is a fact of life here.

      Euille’s write-in campaign was a disappointment. He didn’t pick up a statistically significant number of Donley voters. Whoever was advising him to mount a write-in campaign out to be ashamed.

      On the plus side, I like the idea of Wilson as Vice Mayor. And if Silberberg continues to be feckless, I hope he runs against her next time around.

    • The 1% ‘ers are the Super PAC and the developers that supported Euille and the council members. Silberberg won with a grass roots campaign that encompassed a wide range of citizens.

      What you may not be aware of is the large number of women who support the Mayor-Elect because they are appalled at how the boys club, mentioned above, behaved through out this campaign. They like Silberberg and are fired up.

      As for Justin Wilson, he was voted out before because of his arrogant attitude. He may have tried to tamp that down to get back in the game, but his personality is such that it will likely be apparent again before long. BTW: He did win the VM slot w/the most votes, got lucky I guess, but many are surprised because very few people I know think well of him.

      • I know quite a few people who think well of Justin. What is amusing is the pictures of Alison celebrating the clean sweep (there is one up on FB showing her holding a broom) Are you saying she is insincere?

        She won the primary because the pro transit, pro growth vote was divided. She won the general because she was the only name on the ballot. She will either compromise with the overwhelming Council majority or she will be irrelevant.

          • Actually Carol, if you looked at the numbers, Mayor Euille got all of the votes from Donley and Euille primary, plus some more. What could not be overcome is the additional number of voters (double the primary) that voted straight party line where only Allisons name was on the ballot. .

          • I am saying that it is hard to get people to write in a name period. Write in victories in general are rare.

            Your disdain for your fellow Alexandrians is noted.It is a fact that older, more affluent, white people vote in higher numbers, and are probably more likely to cast a write in ballot, and it is just that demographic that leaned more toward Silberberg. But they are not the only “smart” people in the City. Just do not overestimate what a victory, with only one name on the ballot, means. I assure you the Council members will not.

      • The Council will notice that

        A. Euille managed to get 37% of the vote without his name being on the ballot. Quite an achievement.
        B. The entire Democratic Council slate won. The anti smart growthers like Wood and Van Fleet lost. In fact the Republican who did worst was Van Fleet. The Democrat who did best was Justin Wilson, an advocate of the PY metro, of the City’s smart growth path, and the brains of the Council.

        Ms Silberberg will be as isolated on the Council has she been before getting the title of Mayor. Either that or she will go along with the sensible proposals by the Council, such as she did when voting for the Robinson Terminal North plan.

        What will not happen is a change from the path of the past few years.

    • Jermaine,

      “Less than 15% of registered voters voted for Silberberg. The idea that she has a mandate for dramatic change in city policy is laughable. With this sort of arrogance, it will be a long 3 years…”

      Please tell me and the readers of this fine newspaper, what you did to increase voter turnout? Did you vote?

      I did. I made a strong effort to help increase voter participation.

      I don’t see anything in Allison’s writing or speeches that speaks of a mandate for dramatic change. Maybe we will see less “drama” like crazy suggestions to sell city hall to developers or build huge housing developments without a school or Metro stop.

      Quality of life is important as economic development. They can go hand-in-hand.

      Personally, I think four terms was too long, five certainly was. Time for a change. If you don’t like what Allison does as Mayor, then run against her in the next election or help bring someone forth who you feel will do a better job.

      • Mayor Euille said we should look at all options for City Hall, which was correct. It will need a costly renovation. Fortunately there will be more new development to help pay for that.

        And yes, a BRT line is appropriate for relatively dense development, We do not need development to be limited to 1/4 mile of a metro. Is that what you were referring to?

        And she will do nothing as Mayor other than attend ribbon cuttings. The Mayor of Alexandria has only one vote on the Council, and does not direct city agencies – the City manager, appointed by the Council, does that.

  1. Well, Mr. Sour grapes is finally going away, huh? I suppose the contracting companies are quite shocked they no longer have carte blanche to destroy every centimeter of green space to put up condos and erase historic buildings to put up mixed use establishments. Remember when Eullie wanted to sell the City hall ground, home of the farmers market to contractors? Or when he put up lights a t TC Williams when the residents didn’t want it? OR when we got a bike lane that we didn’t want, or a boutique hotel on the water front? No? Guess that”s why you voted for him. Less than 15% of registered voters voted for Silberberg? Sound like the same argument That Republicans used when Obama was elected.

      • And You-Liee wanted to sell Town hall to developers. Oh, a joke was it? How about the massive changes to the ‘Write in’ rules to further advance his career? You can go ahead and nit pick through every single one of her actions on the basis that Eullie should still be mayor. He decided that he was not accountable and now he’s not.

        • I already discussed Euille’s position on CIty Hall above. And there were no changes to the write in rules.

          But my point was that the things you attacked Euille for, where things that Silberberg also voted for.

          The City will continue to change in the way it has been changing. The forces trying to prevent that lost yesterday. They don’t now that because they do not understand the structure of City govt, and because they are projecting all their wishes onto Silberberg.

  2. Both “new day” and “time for change” were campaign themes of Bob Wood.

    Great to see they resonate and will inform the next three years! Council and vice mayor-elect Wilson will have to step up to a new dais.

    • Bob Wood could not beat a single one of the Democratic Council candidates. He did well only in a couple of precincts in Old Town.

      What his slogans were do not matter. The new day in Alexandria will be a day of urban vibrancy, a day of multimodal transportation, and a day of transit oriented development.

      • So, why do you live here if you hate the city in it’s current form?

        You seem to have nothing but disdain and contempt (and a whole lot of time on your hands) for Alexandria and the people who like the City.

        You seem to want to impose your vision for Alexandria, and it seems you strongly believe you have the correct vision, on others whether they want it or not. That’s pretty arrogant.

          • Maybe she’d like to bring back the slave trading port too. We can all bring Alexandria back to the ‘good old days.’

          • I see the grade school bullies are out in full force. There is nothing more unbecoming than men (I’m assuming) acting like obnoxious girls.

            Even worse is my question wasn’t answered. It was deflected with stupid, untrue comments further illustrating the inability to reconcile your “group’s” thinking/wants.

          • @Carol

            your comment, “There is nothing more unbecoming than men (I’m assuming) acting like obnoxious girls.” is offensive and sexist.

            To your original question, “So, why do you live here if you hate the city in it’s current form?”, it’s fair to asssume that you have no desire to allow anyone to change things about the City. Seeing as the City used to have a working waterfront, a coal-fired power plant, and slave markets, it’s fair to ask if you would have opposed changes to those as well.

          • My comment is offensive? And your comments and tone (and not just to me) are not? Clearly you and your counterparts are lacking self-awareness.

            You have made very wrong assumptions about my thinking and you just spew the usual talking points designed to attack, ridicule and shut-down conversation.

            Please spare everyone the didactical comments–they are what are offensive.

        • Here’s your answer:

          Cities are not static entities. They grow and evolve according to conditions. Paris is not the same city it was 100 years ago and neither is New York. In our case, more people want to live in Alexandria and places close to their workplaces. We need to accommodate these needs since being in an urban area with multiple jurisdictions requires that if we don’t satisfy the demand, someone else will and we will be left to rot. That’s market economics. With the population of the area projected to grow by 30% by 2040, these people need to go somewhere.

          The other benefit of having people close to their workplaces and being able to access them in modes other than just their cars is that we can lower carbon dioxide emissions, mitigate problems resulting from air pollution, minimize traffic congestion, and a host of other benefits that come from people having options.

        • There is much I like about it, and much that can be improved. Wanting to improve it is not to love it less.

          There is also no jurisdiction in the region i could go to that does not have its share of opponents of change.

        • Also I am not imposing my vision. I am arguing for it, and joining with my fellow Alexandrians to advance it. Some will support it because they believe in iti for its own sake, some because the revenues from new development pay for services they value. It seems to me that a minority of Alexandrians, almost all homeowners, and mostly residents of Old Town, want to impose THEIR vision of keeping the status quo on the City.

  3. First and foremost I would like to say congratulations to you to be a mayor of my city!!!
    Second of all I voted twice for you and I was not happy before, b’cause you and the rest took my bread (my job) as soon as you sit on your chair and I couldn’t express my disappointment in words but I was thinking to revenge it during last night election, by cutting my hrs and devoting my time going at voting place to put you agin in better position you and all democrat elected officials have the same agenda to take my leftover hrs from parking job?
    If this is your agenda I feeling sorry, I can’t do nothing except to wait and see
    Again congratulations