Alexandria Republicans and Democrats will hold caucuses Saturday to select each party's six City Council candidates.
While Democrats hold caucuses for nearly every City Council election, this is the first time in many years that Republicans have had more than six candidates, thus necessitating this preliminary step.
"This is a very exciting time," said Kelly Scrabek, the chair of the Alexandria Republican City Committee. "We encourage everyone to come out and participate in this process."
Susan Kellum, the chairperson of the Alexandria Democratic Committee had the same message for voters. "This is an open process," she said. "We welcome anyone who wants to help select our Democratic candidates for City Council."
The party caucuses are open to anyone who is willing to sign a pledge agreeing to support the party's candidates and vote for no one else in the general election. "I think this is fair because Democrats should chose Democratic Party candidates," Kellum said. "If you are not willing to agree to support only Democratic Party candidates, for the purposes of the Council election, at least, you are probably more an independent than a Democrat."
After the two parties have chosen their six candidates, each party will provide these names to the office of the voter registrar. This must be done by March 4. That is the same date on which independent candidates must have presented their petition for candidacy with signatures from 125 registered voters.
"We must have everything by 7 p.m. on March 4," said Ginny Franco, Alexandria's deputy registrar.
THE TWO PARTIES hold caucuses instead of primaries mainly because of the cost. "It is really [cost] prohibitive to hold a citywide primary," Scrabek said.
Kellum agreed. "By holding a caucus, candidates can save money that is much better spent on the general election," she said.
The Democratic caucus will be held at Bishop Ireton School on Feb. 1, from noon until 7 p.m. No identification is required. Citizens are not even required to be registered voters. There will be people to register them.
"We are going to be using the city's voting machines so we will have the results about 15 minutes after the last person has voted," Kellum said. The names of the winners will be listed on the ADC web site and on the voice message at the office.
Republicans will use paper ballots and will, likewise, list the names on the office answering machine. Their caucus will be held on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Minnie Howard School.
THOSE WHO ARE interested in learning more about the Republican candidates can hear them speak at a candidates' forum on Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the Minnie Howard School. The final Democratic candidates‚ forum was held on Jan. 29.