To the editor:
This week marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King earned his hard-won reputation by showing up and speaking in support of important causes and movements. And he used his words around those events to set an example and change the direction of our country for the better.
I want to thank Mayor Allison Silberberg for also being that kind of leader, a leader who shows up. She went to the student walkout at George Mason Elementary School on March 14 at the invitation of several students, including 11-year-old Naomi Wadler. On March 24, Silberberg greeted fellow marchers at the King Street Metro before the March for Our Lives and then went with them to the March.
By showing up and being at the March, she participated in this historic conversation on gun violence. She also wrote a resolution, passed unanimously by city council on Feb. 27, calling for Congress and the Virginia General Assembly to “prioritize the protection of students” and support common sense gun reform laws. It also called for local governments to be allowed to enact common sense gun policies.
Two other significant initiatives have been drafted by Silberberg, one on ethics and transparency in local government and a Statement on Inclusiveness, which is now posted all across our city. These are not just words, but set the tone for how we move forward as a city, especially after tragic events, such as Charlottesville, the school shooting in Parkland, Florida and the shooting at Alexandria’s Simpson Field.
Because of her thoughtful leadership, Silberberg was one of only nine mayors invited by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and New Orleans Mayor and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Mitch Landrieu to Gracie Mansion to discuss the importance of equity and inclusiveness in our country with prominent civil rights leaders. She was also invited last fall to be a lecturer at the New Mayors School at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has gone as a representative of our great city, and represented us well.
Despite a meager salary, Silberberg often works 16 to 18 hours a day as a more than full-time mayor. She consistently shows up to represent the city at multiple events day and night. She is careful, measured and thoughtful with her words, and this is a very important quality to have in our mayor. I appreciate that, like MLK, she speaks up and shows up. In addition to tackling many issues across the city, Silberberg has set a new high bar for leadership in a very short time, and for this, she deserves to be reelected as the Democratic nominee for mayor on June 12.