Dranesville District elected Joan DuBois as its fourth consecutive Republican supervisor Tuesday in a race that was so tight it could not be officially called until after 11 p.m.
Fairfax County’s computer problems stalled the reporting of full results until so late in the evening that supporters of John Foust, the Democrat candidate, learned the unofficial final tally, 11,966 to 11,457, from the DuBois camp.
Because Republican precinct captains and campaign workers reported their vote totals directly to DuBois campaign headquarters on Beverly Road in McLean, where victory was declared as Foust supporters were still waiting for results from eight missing precincts.
But DuBois campaign coordinator Kelly Fitzgerald provided totals for the missing precincts by telephone to Foust campaign chairman Amy Lowenstein.
“I’m just very happy right now,” said DuBois. “We will see what our priorities are, and what’s going on. I am very pleased the electorate chose me to represent them. I will work very hard. I will listen to the people. We’ll do it together,” she said.
While he stopped short of conceding the race, Foust “thanked everyone for a tremendous effort, particularly my wife and my campaign manager, and told them we had run a fabulous campaign,” he said. “I was proud of the effort that everyone had contributed.
“I will wait for the absentee ballots” before conceding, Foust said. “The numbers will be what the numbers will be. I think it is less than likely that the absentees or final count will change anything.”
Foust had endorsements from two newspapers, two teacher organizations, the Sierra Club, and a coalition of citizen activists.
DuBois had endorsements from a number of prominent Republicans including U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (10th), state Dels. Vincent Callahan (34th) and Tom Rust (86th), and incumbent Dranesville Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn.
Foust said some Republicans are among his supporters. “That’s what it takes for a Democrat to get elected in Dranesville,” he said. “You have to put together a coalition.”
DuBois said she picked up some votes from Democrats who didn’t like the Foust campaign’s negative advertisements, which emphasized DuBois’s alleged ties to developers formed during her 16 years as an aide to former supervisors Bob Dix (Hunter Mill) and Nancy Falck (Dranesville).
DRANESVILLE DISTRICT Democratic party chair Dale Evans, working the polls in Cooper Precinct at Spring Hill School, said the good weather was turning out the voters, national Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe among them.
“It’s good weather. [The voters are saying] ‘Why stay inside?’” Evans said.
McAuliffe voted for Democrats, Evans said. “I know he did. He thanked us for being out here and thanked us for the sample ballot” so he would know who to vote for, Evans said.
“The turnout is as expected for an off-year; lighter,” said Linda Smyth, a Democrat in her first race for the open supervisor’s seat in Providence District. “It’s a gorgeous day, and everyone is sitting around in their shorts,” she said as she took a break between visits to polling places with her husband and son.
Sue Galdo, who lives on Seneca Knoll Road in Great Falls, was on her way to work after she voted at Forestville Elementary School, but she paused briefly to talk to DuBois.
“I always vote, because I think it is what Americans should do,” she said. “Our most immediate needs are on traffic on Route 7 at Seneca Road,” where one new shopping center has intensified traffic, and another is planned in the northwest quadrant of the intersection.
DuBois had visited polling places in Dranesville District since voting that morning at her own precinct, Westmoreland in McLean.
She characterized voting as “steady, but not heavy.”
She offered one voter a sample ballot that identified Republican candidates.
“OK,” said John Randolph of Great Falls, accepting it “so I’ll know who not to vote for.”
Randolph, a ”nucleic acid chemist” who moved to Great Falls in 1998, said he opposes Republicans because of “civil rights” infringements and “the debacle in Iraq.
“I think it’s crazy to support anyone who supports our president [George W. Bush],” he said.
“OK, I think that’s a little off the beaten track,” said DuBois an apparent reference to Seneca’s reputation as a conservative stronghold that spawned a property tax revolt in the late 1980s.
“I am not here for the politics or the huge SUVs,” said Randolph, a Fairfax County native who graduated from Oakton High School. “I just want my kids to have a place to run around.
“There are some liberal thinkers here, but they are just beaten down,” Randolph said.
In Cooper Precinct at Spring Hill Elementary School, Carter Hall, 3, showed a “voter card” that his father, Tim, made for him.
“We always vote, but we came out most importantly to vote for Dave Hunt [candidate for state Senate District 32],” said the elder Hall, who lives in the house where he grew up on Georgetown Pike.
Hall said he likes Hunt because of his volunteer work at McLean Bible Church, he said.
Republican Bob McConahy, who also lives in Seneca Precinct, was working as an election official. He ran for Dranesville supervisor in the Republican party caucus last May, but lost to DuBois.
McConahy supported the five percent cap on real estate tax increases; DuBois does not.
“I still get the sense from people talking to me that they regret what happened,” McConahy said. “But where were they?”
He said the tax cap issue never really emerged during the primary, and many voters never knew about his candidacy.
“What we needed was to be able to air what we wanted to say,” said McConahy. “It was very silent.”