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A Grand Send-Off

Democrats pay tribute to Mayor Donley, Councilman Speck.

They won't have Donley and Speck to kick around any more. But as July 1 approaches, the day the new mayor and City Council get sworn into office, Democrats took their last licks at praising and poking fun at the city's two Democratic leaders leaving the public stage — Mayor Kerry Donley and Councilman David Speck.

"You know, another generation from now, we’ll look back on these days as the good old days,” said U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-8th) and former city mayor, last Friday night at a special dinner honoring the two men.

“We’re probably going to hear somebody in a grocery store or more likely in an old person’s home, when they’re campaigning, say, 'I’m going to run the city like Kerry Donley and David Speck.' And then one of us is going to be around and challenge them, and we’re going to say, 'I knew Kerry and David. They were friends of mine. And you’re no Kerry Donley or David Speck.'”

And that set the tone for the evening of fun and remembrances. “Everyone knows that Alexandria is a very dog-friendly town,” said former City Manager Vola Lawson. “And so, at the Jefferson-Jackson, Donley-Speck Dinner, I thought it was fitting to discuss these four gentlemen’s canine connections. Both [Thomas] Jefferson and [Andrew] Jackson were dog lovers … but fortunately, in their day, they didn’t have to spend countless hours on the very important civic issue of dog parks.

"If Jefferson and Jackson had had to spend as much time as Kerry Donley and David Speck on this very important issue, I am sure that Thomas Jefferson would probably not have had the time to author the Declaration of Independence … or to serve as the third president to found the University of Virginia.

"And surely, Andrew Jackson, Old Hickory himself, would not have had the time to win the War of 1812 or to serve as the seventh president. But as you know, Mayor Donley and Councilman Speck have had to spend untold hours on this very important issue.”

THE FUN CONTINUED when Mariella Posey gave Speck a stuffed raccoon. “During the Chetworth Park debates, I told a story about a couple who had returned home to find their house trashed and a raccoon passed out in their kitchen,” Speck explained. “The raccoon had apparently consumed an entire rum cake and was drunk. I called it Alexandria’s dirty little secret – animals with substance abuse. Mariella gave me the stuffed raccoon and a rum cake, and by the way, the rum cake was great.”

Council aides, past and present, paid tribute to Donley and Speck in song. To the tune of “Beauty and the Beast,” they sang, in part, “Connectors to the west and bridges to the east; they made us behave, Donley and Dave, Beauty and the Beast.”

Judy Stack, Speck’s aide, noted, “You know, the beast does turn into a prince.”

Both Donley and Speck reflected on their careers and interjected a bit of seriousness into the evening. “I did think a lot about the journey that I have been on, and it certainly has been an interesting one,” Speck said. “When I think about the people who helped me to understand and go through the decision-making process that I did, I reflect on the people such as our congressman, Jim Moran; Kerry; Mike Jackson and others … probably the people who helped me through the toughest race I ever had, and that was the Democratic primary.…I will never forget Beth Temple.

“I always had three goals when I ran a campaign … to raise more money than we spent; that we won; and that when we finished, we were all pretty much still laughing. When I think about that journey that I have been through, I think about the fact that Democrats really do believe that government is good and that government service is good. That we are here to solve problems and that the role of government is to be caring,” he said.

DONLEY, TOO, expressed his gratitude to his family and to all of those in attendance. “I sat down the other day and jotted down some notes because I didn’t want to miss anything,” he began. “Not that this is going to be my last political speech … but because I didn’t want to forget anyone and it’s been 15 years and a heck of a ride. … I am proud to be a part of the legacy of Democratic leadership in this city that has served us so well. And I am proud to have played a part in that leadership for the past 15 years.”

The installation ceremony for the new mayor and City Council will be held at T. C. Williams High School at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 1. The public is invited.