The bombshell announcement on Wednesday that former Mayor Allison Silberberg is challenging incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson in the June 8 Democratic primary is still reverberating around the city.
Wilson briefly had a challenger last month when Councilor Mo Seifeldein, who is frequently at odds with Wilson on the dais, announced his candidacy for mayor. But Seifeldein, who became a federal employee after his election to council, subsequently learned that he was prevented by the Hatch Act from running for partisan office.
It had been widely speculated during the last three years that Silberberg was planning a rematch of the closely contested 2018 race in which Wilson prevailed. But as the filing deadline approached, it appeared that Wilson was going to run unopposed this year.
We applaud Silberberg’s decision to run for several reasons.
First is simply the fact that we agreed with actions she took as mayor on a number of important issues, particularly her prioritization of the environment and affordable housing – she advocated budget set asides for both – as well as ethics reform and spending restraint.
We also think competition in everything, including elections, is better for the consumer. In this instance, while both Wilson and Silberberg are mainstream Democrats, the voters of Alexandria will be able to choose from two distinct visions for our city. Contested elections, at least in theory, make politicians more responsive to the residents they are campaigning to serve.
Finally, we welcome the additional diversity that Silberberg’s candidacy brings to the Democratic primary. Before her announcement, only four of the 12 candidates for City Council and mayor were women. In a city that is majority female – 52% according to the U.S. Census Bureau – it would have been unfortunate if two-thirds of the candidates were men.
We also applaud the announcement made by Annetta Catchings that she is running for mayor as a Republican. Diversity of political thought is as important as any other type, and Catchings has already shown in two opinion columns she has sent the Alexandria Times that she is thoughtful and willing to buck conventional wisdom.