By Erich Wagner (File photo)
There are less than three weeks left until the November 3 local election, and Alexandria’s mayoral candidates still are trying to get a leg up with voters.
Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg leads the local Democratic ticket, but she faces a write-in challenge from incumbent Mayor Bill Euille, who lost the party primary by 312 votes in June. The candidates have been garnering dueling lists of endorsers and are trading jabs over each other’s campaigns.
U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8) endorsed Silberberg last week, joining the Alexandria Democratic Committee, Democratic nominee for Delegate in the 45th District Mark Levine and Sheriff Dana Lawhorne.
“As a lifelong Democrat and as an Alexandrian, I am pleased to support Allison’s candidacy for mayor,” Beyer said in a statement. “Allison is a person of integrity with a vision for the future of our great city. I am confident that she will be ever present in our community, and will do her best to help Alexandria stay balanced and prosperous.”
But a growing number of prominent local Democrats have announced they would break with the party to support Euille’s write-in effort, including former Mayor and primary foe Kerry Donley, former City Councilor Lonnie Rich and former candidate for delegate Julie Jakopic. And on Monday, Delegate Rob Krupicka, who is not running for re-election, announced his own support for Euille’s campaign in a letter to the Alexandria Times.
“Small businesses give our city much of its unique character,” Krupicka wrote. “Euille has firsthand small business experience and has worked to streamline permitting and process. The vice mayor, despite many platitudes, has done nothing to improve small business life in the city.”
But ADC joint campaign chairman state Sen. Adam Ebbin said he was not concerned by the growing rift in the party or how it might affect the results on Election Day.
“I’d say that our current officials are united in their support of the Democratic ticket, top to bottom,” Ebbin said. “I respect Delegate Krupicka and his decision, but he’s a little bit of an outlier in terms of the current membership of the committee and elected officials.”
Ongoing arguments over whether Euille and Silberberg should square off on the issues also gathered steam Wednesday, when the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce issued a statement strongly calling for a debate and offering to help arrange one.
“Given the level of activity by both the Euille and Silberberg campaigns, the chamber believes the debate over the method of nomination is now over,” chamber officials wrote. “We are focused squarely on the election in November and the future of Alexandria; in the chamber’s view, there are two candidates running for mayor.
“One is a party nominee, the other a declared write-in. Those candidates owe the business owners of Alexandria a debate to explore their positions on key issues such as budget, land use, small business, taxes and transportation. To omit such a debate and discussion from an electoral process is a disservice to all voters, especially employers and small businesses.”
Euille campaign manager Eric Williams said the mayor is still examining the best way to formally challenge the vice mayor to a one-on-one debate, and the campaign will announce its plans later this month.
But Silberberg supporters reignited accusations surrounding the mayor’s campaign flyer that contained an improper sample ballot — printed on white paper and with an Alexandria Electoral Board authorization line — when some voters saw the flyer handed out last weekend. The Euille campaign had previously said they withdrew all copies of the flyer when informed of the problem.
George Foote, a volunteer with the Silberberg campaign, wrote to the State Board of Elections to encourage it to consider the alleged violation before the election.
“The Euille campaign is directed by political veterans and elected officials who know politics and the election laws,” Foote wrote. “The campaign prepared and printed at least two different versions of a plainly illegal sample ballot claiming to be authorized by a public elections body.”
Anna Leider, general registrar for the Alexandria Board of Elections, said she saw the flyer that was handed out last weekend, and spoke again with Euille campaign officials.
“I had another conversation with the Euille campaign, and I did make them aware that there were still some [improper flyers] out there and they needed to take additional action to make sure it is no longer distributed,” she said. “It appears to me to be from that same original batch, and I have no reason to believe any new ones have been printed.”
Williams said the campaign has not issued any of the original flyers since revising it to be compliant with election rules. But in response to the reports, the campaign has sent emails to remind volunteers not to hand out any copies of the original flyer.
“I have no idea where [the new batch of flyers] came from; I haven’t even seen it,” Williams said. “It’s possible a couple of volunteers made their own copies, because the flyer first went out in an email. We can’t control every particular voter in the city, but we did send an email out immediately after we heard about the flyers. We want to let supporters know that campaign literature must come from the campaign only.”