Letter to the Editor: Silberberg leads way on ethics

Allison Silberberg on the dais during FY2018 budget add/deletes (File photo)

To the editor:

I read with great interest the Alexandria Times article on May 17 regarding campaign contributions to the mayoral candidates, “Defining ‘business before council.’” The chart that accompanied the article clearly showed the difference between Mayor Allison Silberberg’s ethical standards and the standards of Vice Mayor Justin Wilson.

From the time she announced her run for council and then for mayor, Silberberg has had a policy that says she will not accept a contribution if she knows that the donor brings business before council, and this includes developers. Her donors include those who are residents, some of whom have expressed strong concerns about their neighborhoods or quality of life. But they do not stand to gain financially from council decisions.

On the other hand, Wilson has taken contributions from developers and commercial landowners for years, some of whom then received Wilson’s vote for zoning and permit changes.

Look at the series of large contributions to Wilson from Alexandria Toyota, followed quickly by its appearance before council for changes to its special use permit. Wilson personally made the motion to accept Alexandria Toyota’s requested changes. The same pattern appeared with contributions from others, including Washington Gas.

During this campaign season, Wilson proclaims a newfound ethical conscience, and says he is now refusing such contributions. It is too bad that until this election season turned on the spotlight, he had not had that policy.

Silberberg has led the charge for this new ethical standard, and the community has taken note and now expects the same of others.

I think all of us know that there is a total difference between accepting a contribution from an individual resident who is concerned about his or her neighborhood or quality of life versus taking a donation from corporate interests that results in financial gains for the donor. My thanks and my vote go to Silberberg for knowing and living the difference.

-John K. Frost, Alexandria