When Town of Clifton residents go to the polls, May 4, to elect their town leaders, they'll choose from 10 candidates for six positions. Three people are running for mayor, and seven are seeking seats on the five-member Town Council.
But there's a glitch — four are write-in candidates whose names won't appear on the ballot. And they include the current mayor.
"In past years, someone from the Fairfax County Registrar's Office always mailed out a registration-reminder packet to Clifton because we don't have any paid personnel — everyone's a volunteer," explained Mayor Jim Chesley.
But this year, with money tight, the county didn't send out its usual packet. So when it came time to file for re-election, Chesley missed the deadline. So did residents Bill Watts and Deborah Dillard, who are each running for Town Council. And recently, resident Judy McNamara decided to run for mayor, too.
As a result, those who wish to vote for these people will have to write in their names on the ballot. Those who registered in time and whose names will appear on the ballot are mayoral candidate Wayne Nickum, currently on the Town Council, and Town Council candidates Mac Arnold and Margo Buckley, both incumbents, plus Brant Baber, Lev Buller and Trisha Robertson.
THE FILING deadline was March 2 at 7 p.m. and, after that night's Town Council meeting, said Chesley, "People were asking me, 'Did you file?' That's when I wondered why I hadn't gotten the reminder packet from the county. And the filing deadline wasn't listed in any media, so I forgot — I'm human."
He then learned from the state Electoral Board that the reminder he'd received for so many years wasn't a legal requirement, but was simply done as a courtesy to the Town of Clifton. Nonetheless, he said, "I take responsibility for allowing the filing deadline to fall between the cracks."
Meanwhile, campaigning in Clifton has already begun and election preparations are proceeding. And while the snafu has made things more difficult for Chesley and the other write-ins, it does not adversely affect the town, itself. Furthermore, he believes the residents will use "sound judgment based on my record of over 20 years of service and commitment to Clifton" when casting their votes on election day.
"Those of us who are running as write-ins for the election may have more of a challenge than the candidates on the ballot, but many folks in town have offered their support," said Chesley. "And it wouldn't be the first time write-ins were elected as mayor and Town Council members, so we're hopeful."
Centre View will begin its coverage of the election, this month. Profiles of the candidates, as well as their viewpoints about town issues, will be presented.