To the editor:
I am writing today in the interest of fairness as we approach the upcoming primary election for mayor and city council.
According to campaign finance reports, Mayor Allison Silberberg’s largest campaign contributor, and the largest contribution made thus far for either mayoral campaign, is a $5,000 contribution from one of the Alexandria Times’ owners. In my time as mayor I always strived for an open and transparent city hall. I believe that we should expect the same from political campaigns and our press corps. In my memory I cannot recall a newspaper owner making such a large donation to a political campaign, recognizing the need to remain independent.
That is why I believe the Alexandria Times should not endorse in this year’s mayoral contest on June 12 as it presents the clear specter of a conflict of interest.
In these times where the chief executive of our country constantly harps on fake news and the lack of fairness, I believe it is paramount that the media look to preserve their independence and objectivity. This opportunity is a chance for the Alexandria Times to display its commitment to fairness and propriety by remaining neutral in their endorsement in the mayor’s race.
In full disclosure I have decided to endorse Vice Mayor Justin Wilson for mayor and I believe strongly that his progressive vision for our future is what our city needs now. His dedication to funding for pre-kindergarten programs, increased investments in infrastructure such as school buildings, sewers and road paving as well as his ability to build consensus on city council makes Justin Wilson the right candidate to be our mayor.
The Alexandria Times has been consistent in stating their belief that elected officials should not vote on items where they have a financial interest, a standard that I upheld as mayor, and I believe that the Times should be held to its own standard in this case. I am confident that the Times will recognize that reason and fairness trumps any appearance of a conflict of interest, especially its own.
-Kerry Donley, former mayor of Alexandria
Editors’ note: We agree with former mayor Donley on the need for the Times to remain neutral in this year’s mayoral race. Though the donation mentioned was made by a small stakeholder with no role in the paper’s news operation, we will not be making an endorsement in the mayoral contest, though we will endorse for city council. Please see “Times to forego mayoral endorsement” on page 3 of the May 17 Alexandria Times and online at alextimes.com for our full statement.