By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]
A familiar face entered the contest for Alexandria’s mayor on Wednesday: former Mayor Allison Silberberg.
Racing against Friday’s filing deadline for candidates in the June 8 Democratic primary, Silberberg said her decision to run for office, after saying in an email blast last month that she wasn’t running, was a response to residents urging her to reconsider. Silberberg said that fact that incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson would have run unopposed unless she tossed her hat in the ring also impacted her decision.
“Many residents have been urging me to reconsider my decision. I’ve been inundated – almost like a ‘draft Allison’ movement – I’ve been inundated with calls and emails, some in tears, begging me to reconsider. I have taken it to heart and decided to enter the race,” Silberberg said.
Silberberg previously served as mayor from 2016 to 2018 and as vice mayor from 2012 to 2015. In 2018, Silberberg lost a close primary election to Wilson, who had served as the vice mayor during her term as mayor. Since then, Silberberg has been critical of Wilson’s leadership, arguing that he has disregarded the thoughts of civic associations and even his fellow members of council.
“Our beloved city is at serious risk under this current mayoral leadership, Mr. Wilson. Our city is worth fighting for and there’s so much at stake during this election,” Silberberg said.
Silberberg said she will continue to focus on many of the same priorities she had on the dais during her time as mayor to the 2021 contest: responsible development, ethics reform, affordable housing and environmentally conscious policies.
“My vision includes returning to the promise that a growing Alexandria must be built with respect for our diverse people and neighborhoods, respect for our numerous historic districts and, perhaps most importantly, respect for the critical role that trust plays in government,” Silberberg said. “It saddens me to hear residents express an enormous loss of confidence in our city government and their concerns about integrity and transparency.”
During Silberberg’s tenure as mayor, City Council tripled the amount of money dedicated to the city’s affordable housing fund, increased funding for schools and advanced plans to address the city’s sewer outfall issues.
As Silberberg rushed to file her campaign paperwork on a rainy Wednesday, she emphasized the need to invest in the city’s stormwater infrastructure and flood mitigation efforts.
“We need to be very aggressive, not wait until the third flooding event. We need to address it with open eyes, with a huge task force, which [the city] has now done but it took a while,” Silberberg said.
With a continued focus on ethics, Silberberg said she hopes to mend the broken bridges between the city and its residents. “If they elect me to be their mayor I will be there listening to the people, there for the people,” Silberberg said. “It’s really all about ‘we the people’ and the government as a democracy is about ‘we the people’ and having civility restored to the public discourse and civility restored in city hall in general.”