The four-term mayor of Alexandria fell far short in a write-in campaign to retain his job Tuesday, while in Arlington the two Democratic nominees for County Board swept easily into office.
Allison Silberberg, Alexandria’s vice mayor, who upset Mayor Bill Euille in June’s Democratic primary, captured a decisive 63 percent of the vote, far outstripping the number of people who wrote Euille’s name on the ballot.
Silberberg won by promising to slow down development in the rapidly growing Washington suburb, seeking “thoughtful, appropriate” projects that protect neighborhoods and historic areas.
“I’m deeply honored and grateful,” she said after the votes were tallied.
During the campaign, she questioned Euille’s willingness to vote on development projects after he received campaign donations from the developers involved. Tuesday night, she promised that her first action as mayor will be to recommend that the city set up an ethics commission to advise the council on such issues.
Euille was not available for comment Tuesday night.
In Arlington, Democrats Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol won board seats being vacated by longtime incumbents. They beat Mike McMenamin, a Republican running as an independent, and former Green Party candidate Audrey Clement, also running as an independent.
With all the votes in, Dorsey took 36 percent, Cristol 34 percent, McMenamin 19 percent and Clement 10 percent.
The results were a strong reaffirmation of the Democratic Party’s dominance in Arlington, after the election last year of John Vihstadt, a Republican running as an independent who became the first non-Democrat on the board in 15 years.
“Folks want new perspectives, but not at the cost of their progressive values,” Cristol, who was running for office for the first time, said from the Democrats’ victory party.
She and Dorsey will join three sitting board members: Vihstadt, longtime incumbent Jay Fisette (D) and first-term member Libby Garvey, a Democrat who often votes with Vihstadt and has sided with him in the past year during bitter disputes over spending.
Vihstadt endorsed Dorsey as well as McMenamin, and Dorsey could shift the board’s governing majority if he sides with Vihstadt and Garvey once in office.
But during his campaign, he seemed inclined to chart his own path, decrying “litmus test” questions posed by advocacy groups and voicing support for the county’s affordable-housing master plan — which both Vihstadt and Garvey view with skepticism.
“Voters were yearning for people who would spend money wisely, keep the conversation open and seek to engage the citizens,” Dorsey said Tuesday night.
The public’s anger with the County Board started with opposition about two years ago to a long-planned streetcar project on Columbia Pike, then spread to a million-dollar bus shelter, a proposed aquatics center, an expensive dog park and the money-losing Artisphere arts center.
Residents who lived near major new developments said they thought their concerns were not being heard, and some of that frustration was evident at the polls Tuesday.
“I think the county is in somewhat of a disarray; they are spending far too much on the larger projects,” Diane Cancian said after voting for Cristol and McMenamin. “We need to dial it back and get the schools under control . . . and it’s always good to have a variety of opinions.”
Rob Dubow, who was leaving a Lee Highway precinct, said he voted for Dorsey and Cristol, based on his deeply felt party affiliation. “I always vote for Arlington Democrats,” he said.
Longtime board members Mary H. Hynes and J. Walter Tejada, both Democrats, announced that they would not run for reelection this year, opening up the two seats for the first time in 30 years.
Turnout in Arlington was 27 percent, the registrar’s office said. In the lone county School Board race, Reid S. Goldstein won easily, with 78 percent of the vote.
Silberberg, 52, was elected to the Alexandria council on the strength of her opposition to the city’s controversial waterfront redevelopment plan, which Euille shepherded through after years of delay. She voted against most large development proposals during her three years on the council.
Her stance on those projects led developers, real estate professionals and business owners to line up against her in both the primary and the general election.
Overall, Euille outraised Silberberg nearly 3 to 1. But his financial advantage wasn’t nearly enough to overcome not having his name on the ballot in the heavily Democratic city.
“I’m a fan of slowing down development a bit. . . . It’s out of control,” said accountant Ben Schabert, who voted for Silberberg at the Agudas Achim Congregation and has lived in the city for eight years. “The city stands to lose some of its identity.”
With the massive mixed-
housing development at Potomac Yard and other projects, Alexandria is “starting to feel more like D.C. than Alexandria,” he said.
The mayor’s job is largely ceremonial. He or she has only one vote on the council and cannot veto the majority’s actions. But the mayor controls the agenda and the meetings, and serves as the chief spokesman for the city in public and private.
Since Silberberg gave up her council seat to run for mayor, there was one vacancy on the six-member council. Incumbents Justin Wilson, John Taylor Chapman, Paul Smedberg, Timothy Lovain and Redella S. “Del” Pepper won reelection, and first-time Democratic nominee Willie F. Bailey Sr. beat out several challengers for Silberberg’s seat.
The top vote-getter, Wilson, will become the vice mayor.
According to unofficial returns, the winners of Alexandria’s three School Board races were Bill Campbell, Hal Cardwell and Karen A. Graf (District A); Cindy Anderson, Veronica Nolan and Margaret Lorber (District B); and Christopher J. Lewis, Ronnie Campbell and Ramee Gentry (District C).
Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report.