To the editor:
When then Alexandria City Councilman Justin Wilson prepared to run for mayor in 2018, our Queen Street/North Royal Street neighborhood invited all council members to our homes to show the impact that a proposed, grossly out-of-scale expansion of a historic home would have on the neighborhood and historic preservation. City Council was scheduled to hold a public hearing on our appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision.
Wilson entered the first home and boldly stated his view: “I hate public hearings,” the future mayor said emphatically, not once, but twice. Clearly, Wilson was there to mark us off his “to-do” list, but not to listen to our important concerns.
In another case years later, involving the historic home long owned by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, Wilson falsely accused our historic preservation group of personally attacking the new owner of the house who planned to destroy historic elements of the house. Though Alexandria’s rich history and landmarks are draws for tourists from around the world, Wilson was indifferent.
Instances of Wilson’s anti-resident/pro developer stance are scattered across Alexandria. There are many reasons to deny Wilson a second term and to return former Mayor Allison Silberberg, but chief among them is the his unwillingness to hear the views of residents.
In the Alexandria Times Voter’s Guide, both candidates were asked to answer 10 questions in one word answers. Topics ranged from the city’s goal of increasing Alexandria’s density to environmental issues and whether Alexandria City Public Schools should return to “full in-person” learning in the fall. Of the 10 questions, Wilson answered only four, while Silberberg responded to all.
Among the questions Wilson refused to answer concerned listening to neighborhoods’ concerns: “On a scale of one to 10, with one lowest and 10 highest, how much does resident input, particularly from those most impacted by decisions, influence your position on issues?” Silberberg, however, answered, “8.”
The choice is clear. We need to return the mayor’s office to Silberberg, a leader with a strong record of transparency, truthfulness and in support of ethical standards; one who will treat all Alexandrians with dignity and respect and restore confidence in our government that has been shattered by the incumbent.
-Gebe Martinez Johnson, Alexandria