Alexandria’s four-term mayor, William D. Euille, shows up for nearly every parade, ribbon-cutting, festival and civic celebration in the city. He has been doing a regular video webcast on the city’s site since 2008. Two weeks ago, he greeted the 5 millionth rider on the King Street trolley.
But Euille (D), a native son and proud graduate of T.C. Williams High School, can’t seem to get on the stage for a political debate since he lost the Democratic primary in June to Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg.
His supporters, convinced that the loss was a fluke, implored the lifelong Democrat to run a write-in campaign, and he did just that this summer. But with 40 days to go before the Nov. 3 general election, it’s unclear whether the sitting mayor will have a chance to make another formal plea to voters.
“We plan to challenge Ms. Silberberg,” said Eric Williams, Euille’s campaign manager. “We feel the voters have a right to hear them, head-to-head.”
Silberberg, who bested Euille and former mayor Kerry Donley by a narrow margin in the June primary, said she will not debate a write-in candidate this fall. Despite a torn tendon that has had her on crutches for the past three weeks, Silberberg has been holding weekly open-door coffees and attending local events, and she plans to hold house parties next week. Her campaign signs are everywhere.
“I will not be debating any write-in candidate, and the Alexandria Democratic Committee agrees with me,” Silberberg said in a phone interview. “There are 150,000 residents in Alexandria, and any one of them could say, ‘I’m a write-in.’ ‘I’m a write-in.’ ‘I’m a write-in.’ . . . That’s my policy, and to me, it makes sense.”
Donley, who endorsed Euille after his primary loss, said that debates are important, but so is direct mail.
“The voters don’t pay attention until 30 days out anyway,” said Donley, who, despite his most recent loss, has run successful council and mayoral campaigns. “A write-in campaign is always difficult . . . but the secret to this one is going to be a lot of retail politicking: knocking on doors, shaking hands, getting the word out.”
But on street medians, now cluttered with signs for Silberberg and the 11 City Council candidates, Euille has few, if any, posted. Given the unusual spelling of his name (pronounced “you-el”), it would seem that a key tactic would be to educate voters on how to write it in on the ballot.
Donley is one of about 30 residents who are members of a recently revived political action committee, Securing Alexandria’s Future, that endorsed Euille and the six Democrats running for the council. (Four Republicans and an independent are also on the ballot.) The PAC includes former council member Lonnie Rich, auto dealer Jack Taylor, real estate agent Gina Baum and Glenn Klaus, who registered the Twitter handle @WriteIn_Euille.
Euille’s campaign fund, still robust from his primary race, held $28,203 as of Aug. 31. He has raised $4,502 since July 1. Silberberg had $4,585 on Aug. 31 and has raised $2,324 over the summer. Silberberg said more donations have come in this month, but those won’t be public until campaign finance reports are filed Oct. 15.