Mayor Justin Wilson will not seek third term

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Mayor Justin Wilson will not seek third term
Mayor Justin Wilson will not seek a third term, which was announced Friday. (File photo)
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By Caitlyn Meisner | cmeisner@alextimes.com

Mayor Justin Wilson announced Friday morning in his monthly newsletter, “The Council Connection,” that he will not seek a third term as Alexandria’s Mayor in 2024. 

“I love this job,” Wilson wrote in the newsletter announcement. “I am in awe of what we have been able to accomplish by working together during the 13 years I have been able to serve. I would be thrilled to do this job forever.” 

Wilson has served as the city’s mayor since 2019, but has long been involved in Alexandria politics. He was elected to City Council in 2007 in a special election to fill a vacated seat and served until 2009, when he lost his bid for reelection. He was then reelected to Council in 2012 and served as vice mayor from 2016 to 2019. In 2018, Wilson beat incumbent Democratic mayor Allison Silberberg in the Democratic primary 53% to 47%, and then won the November general election.

“But doing two full-time jobs and being a good husband and father is not sustainable forever,” Wilson wrote in his newsletter. “Nor should anyone be elected in office forever. Good governance requires the constant injection of new ideas and energy.” 

He mentioned in the newsletter his daughter, a current sophomore at Alexandria City High School, said it was “not worth it” to run for another term to hug her father onstage after receiving her diploma, something he was able to do with his son, a class of 2023 graduate. 

Wilson works for Amtrak as a senior director of vendor and contract management. He is also married to an Alexandria native, and they have two children.

In his 16 years of Alexandria politics, Wilson has made a lasting impact on the city’s infrastructure and impression on its residents. 

Just this week, City Council – led by Wilson – passed “Zoning for Housing/Housing for All” in an unanimous vote, which has been hotly debated and contested. 

“Building additional housing supply, whether committed as affordable housing or market-rate housing, helps address our housing affordability challenges and reverse generational impacts,” Wilson wrote.

Wilson has also advocated for new transit initiatives throughout the city, served on council when the Potomac Yard Metro station was approved and tried to make himself accessible to city residents through social media and the newsletter. 

The Washington Post reported he did not time his announcement to follow the ZFH vote and in an interview, Wilson denied he is preparing to run for Rep. Don Beyer’s congressional seat. 

Councilor Canek Aguirre released a statement following Wilson’s announcement. 

“Wilson has been a passionate and tireless advocate for the people of Alexandria,” Aguirre said. “Never one to shy away from difficult conversations, I have admired his command of the issues and have relied on his institutional knowledge, friendship and counsel during my time on City Council. 

“There is no doubt that [Wilson] has been the right leader at the right time. His leadership has been critical to guiding Alexandria through the pandemic response and recovery all while investing in our future. … Our city and our region are better for his service,” Aguirre said. 

Peter Sutherland, a resident and Alexandria lead for the YIMBYs of NoVA, said in an interview with the Times that he was surprised to see the announcement in his inbox and noted this is a bittersweet moment for Alexandria. 

“Having met him and gotten to know him, he’s the most knowledgeable city official and incredibly passionate about making lives better for Alexandrians,” Sutherland said. “I’m excited to see what we hear next from him.”

Residents and other city officials across social media shared their thoughts on the announcement. 

“[This is] the best thing he’s ever done for the city,” Vineeta A. wrote on Facebook. 

Abdel Elnoubi, an Alexandria School Board member, wrote on X – the platform formerly known as Twitter – that  it was an honor to service the city alongside Wilson. 

“[Wilson] is one of the most passionate, tireless and dedicated public servants I’ve witnessed,” Elnoubi wrote. “I thank Mayor Wilson, his family and wish them the best. He will certainly leave big shoes to be filled in 2025.” 

“His leadership as mayor will be missed, but I’m excited for him and his family to have more time together,” Tim L. wrote on Facebook. “Thank you Mayor Wilson for your service!”

“Good!” Emily M. wrote on Facebook. “He didn’t listen to constituents on the recent housing initiative and pushed through something for the sake of press. I’m sure he’s going to try to run for something higher, and I can’t wait to vote against him.” 

Councilor Kirk McPike also shared his thoughts on X. 

“It’s a bittersweet morning in Alexandria,” McPike wrote. “Mayor [Wilson] has been an exemplary leader for our city throughout his time on Council. He’s made Alexandria a better place to live.” 

In an email to the Times, Tom Kopko called Wilson’s exit “dishonorable.” 

“I find it dishonorable of Wilson to pass ZFH over obvious public outcry, only to cut and run immediately thereafter,” Kopko wrote. 

Rep. Don Beyer, U.S. Congressman who represents Alexandria, made a statement on X as well. 

“I first met Justin Wison 30 years ago when I was Lt. Gov. and he was a V[irginia] Senate page. He’s been my Council[or], my mayor and my friend for time out of my mind, and he’s done so much for Alexandria.”

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