By Glenn Klaus, Alexandria (File photo)
To the editor:
I have never met Mayor Bill Euille, but for the last 20 years I have lived in the city that he has served for more than 40. I’ve lived in Landmark, Old Town and now in Rosemont. I came to Alexandria young and single and now I’m middle-aged, married and have children. From these various perspectives, I’ve seen Alexandria steadily getting better over the years.
Our neighborhood school, once a place to be avoided, is now a selling point for realtors. Derelict rail yards and military facilities at the old Roundhouse site, Cameron Station and Potomac Yard have been transformed into some of the city’s most desirable housing and retail. I’ve witnessed a gas station built on top of a cemetery reclaimed as a tribute to hundreds of people who escaped slavery and made Alexandria their home.
While D.C. and Arlington have dithered over street cars, Alexandria has implemented a new bus rapid transit system. More than a decade ago, Alexandrians were promised a “waterfront for all” and an end to being a laughing stock every time the Potomac flooded. That dream is about to be realized.
Any fair-minded citizen must give Euille some credit for these transformational achievements. During his decades on the school board, city council and in the mayor’s office, Euille has quietly but steadily shepherded these and many more projects from dream to reality. Euille hasn’t led with slogans and pandering; he has succeeded by listening to the people and building consensus over months and years. At times a vocal minority has disagreed with the mayor and the majority of city council. But Euille has persevered and the city and the people of Alexandria are better for it.
Mayor Euille’s vision for Alexandria has been affirmed repeatedly through elections, the votes of his fellow city councilors and, when forced to, by court decisions. That is why I was so distressed by last Tuesday’s election results.
While Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg ran a good campaign, she openly encouraged Republicans to vote in a Democratic primary. “Republicans for Allison” signs, my Republican neighbors being quoted in the press promising to vote for Silberberg and election results that showed the strongest Republican precincts going overwhelmingly for the vice mayor are all signs that the voter pool was not representative of Alexandria Democrats.
In the end, only 312 votes separated Silberberg from Euille. This is curiously a similar number of voters who failed to cast a vote for delegate on the same ballot. Could it be that a slate of candidates that victor Mark Levine called “good progressives” was too unappealing to conservative Silberberg voters?
I can accept my candidate not winning. I have learned this lesson repeatedly from Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, Howard Dean, John Kerry and others. But I cannot accept interference in a political party’s primary, especially when 300 votes, out of Alexandria’s 86,000 registered voters, determine our next mayor.
This is why I will be writing in Bill Euille on the ballot in November. My hope is that a more representative group of voters turns out in November and we can keep Alexandria on the path of progress. Join me.