A year ago, my friend, Allison Silberberg, was sworn in as Alexandria’s new mayor. As I reflect on Allison’s first year as Mayor of Alexandria, it is remarkable what she has accomplished in 12 months.
Immediately after taking office, Mayor Silberberg took prompt action and set a new tone for open government by putting forward an ethics and transparency initiative. By spring, the council voted for the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct and Ethics Pledge. This was an important pillar of Mayor Silberberg’s campaign, which gained wide support in the community.
Her compassion for people can be felt in a new environment that she has promoted at City Hall and throughout Alexandria. She emphasizes a culture of inclusion, civility, acceptance and respect. This passion led her to initiate the city’s first-ever Statement of Inclusiveness, which was issued by Mayor Silberberg and the City Council in collaboration with the Alexandria Human Rights Commission.
The issue of four sewer outfalls into the Potomac River has been an environmental problem in our city for decades. Since 1994, the city has been under a state mandate to fix the problem at three of those four outfalls. But last year, Mayor Silberberg and this council voted to move forward with a plan to fix the three outfalls as well as accelerate plans for the fourth outfall at Oronoco Bay. We all know this will take a decade or more to complete, and she believes we cannot allow any more time to lapse. We must begin.
For over 40 years, Alexandria has had a tradition that at the beginning of every Saturday Public Hearing, people of all backgrounds can come forward to speak about any issue for up to three minutes. Without public notice or input, City Council voted 6-1 to change this tradition and limit the number of speakers during this portion of the meeting to 15. No docketed item at this hearing has a limit on speakers. Mayor Silberberg spoke out against this and was the lone dissenting vote. She believes in more civic engagement, not less.
Mayor Silberberg puts her whole heart and mind — and an incredible amount of energy and hours — into this awesome responsibility. She will continue to build bridges of understanding among our citizens and move us forward on a host of issues in the years ahead. We are lucky to have Allison leading our city during such challenging times in our country.
Eileen Cassidy Rivera
Former School Board Member, Alexandria City Public Schools