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BREAKING: Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson won’t seek reelection

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson will not seek a third term in office.

Wilson made the announcement in his monthly newsletter on Friday.

“Next year, Alexandria will choose a new Mayor,” Wilson wrote. “While I may have more to say about that decision at some point, for now, I’m going to hope we get good people to step forward and articulate a vision for Alexandria’s future to the great people of our City.”

The announcement leaves the top post up for grabs in the Nov. 2024 general election.

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

Wilson was elected Mayor in 2018 and won reelection in 2021. Married with two children, he was first elected to City Council in a 2007 special election  after the resignation of then-Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald. Wilson lost reelection in 2009, but reemerged in 2012 by getting reelected to Council. Three years later, he was elected vice mayor in 2015 under former Mayor Allison Silberberg, who he later defeated in the Democratic primaries in 2018 and 2021. For his day job he is the senior director of supplier management at Amtrak.

Wilson’s mettle was tested during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the city contended for two years with the most significant health situation of its kind in a century, crippling local businesses and overseeing the city government largely transition to a work-at-home environment. Wilson was, in fact, sworn into his second term via Zoom.

His tenure as mayor has been controversial, most recently with the abolishment of single-family-only zoning and approving the Zoning for Housing/Housing for All initiative.

Wilson’s full announcement is below.

Sixteen years ago this month, I sent the first edition of “The Council Connection.” Every month that I have been privileged to serve, I have sent out another edition.

I have always giggled when residents would ask me who was on “the team” that writes the newsletter each month. It was just me (with some great volunteer editors), usually in the middle of the night, typing out what I thought would be useful information for the residents of our City.

The list has grown over the years. These days there’s about 15,000 residents who get the newsletter each month, and I love the dialogue this newsletter prompts.

At various points over the years, I have probably sent you things that you have agreed with, that have confused you, that have confounded you and that have enraged you. In turn, you have given me your candid feedback on the issues facing our City. It’s been a fun dialogue for me, and it’s made me more effective in representing you on the City Council, and for the past 5 years, as your Mayor.

This newsletter seemed like as good a place as any to let you know that a year from now, I’m going to send the final edition of “The Council Connection” at the beginning of my final month as your Mayor.

A few months ago, my son graduated Alexandria City High School (ACHS). It was an exciting moment for our family, particularly as he graduated from the same school my wife graduated from back in 1997. One of the great perks of being Mayor is that you get to sit on the stage during the graduation. For me, that meant I had the opportunity to give my son a hug right after he got his diploma. It was an awesome moment for me, and one I replay in my head frequently.

A few months later, I was discussing this moment with my daughter, a sophomore at ACHS. I recounted how special it was to be up on the stage to hug her older brother, but noted that if I wanted to do the same for her graduation, I would have to run for re-election. Without skipping a beat, my daughter responded, “not worth it, Dad!” While I would agonize over this decision for many months, including over these past few weeks, if I’m being truthful, the decision was made at that moment, in that conversation with my daughter.

I love this job. 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. But doing two full-time jobs and being a good husband and father is not sustainable forever. Nor should anyone be in elected office forever. Good governance requires the constant injection of new ideas and energy.

Next year, Alexandria will choose a new Mayor. While I may have more to say about that decision at some point, for now, I’m going to hope we get good people to step forward and articulate a vision for Alexandria’s future to the great people of our City.

On the first day of 2025, I’ll take my place on the sidelines. Until then, we have a lot of work to do, and I have a finite deadline with which to do it! With this announcement out of the way, let’s get back to work!

This weekend is one of the best weekends in our City, as the holidays come alive. Tomorrow morning, the 52nd Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, a partnership between The Campagna Center and Visit Alexandria will begin at 11 AM in the streets of Old Town.

Tomorrow night, beginning at 5:30 PM, find your spot along the waterfront to celebrate the 23rd Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights.

I will see you out there this weekend!

Preparations are well under way to ring in 2024 with First Night Alexandria. Tickets are available now to celebrate the New Year in Alexandria!

If you would like me to host a town hall in your neighborhood, please drop me a line and we’ll get it on the calendar! Contact me anytime. Let me know how I can help.

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