Campaign Season

Campaign Season

City elections will pit incumbents against challengers in May.

The upcoming campaign season will bring a wealth of candidates — many returning elected officials and a handful of challengers. The entire slate of the city’s elected officials will be on the May 2 ballot: the mayor, all six City Council members and all nine School Board members.

“This will definitely be an interesting and exciting campaign season,” said Susan Kellom, chairwoman of the Alexandria Democratic Committee. “We’ve got one candidate for mayor and nine candidates for the City Council.”

So far, incumbent mayor Bill Euille is the only candidate to announce an intention to run for mayor. He was the only Democratic candidate to file with the party before its Jan. 3 deadline. And although Republicans have until Feb. 16 to field a candidate, none have announced an intention to run with the local Republican committee. But Republicans think anger over rising tax bills could be their ticket to success in 2006 for the City Council election.

“Many people think that citizen input is not taken seriously by City Council members,” said Chris Marston, chairman of the Alexandria Republican City Committee, adding that the decision of Councilwoman Joyce Woodson could help Republicans in May. “Her decision not to run for reelection changes the equation.”

CANDIDATES WHO WISH to run independent of a political party have until March 7 to file with the city’s registrar. Because all School Board candidates are required to be nonpartisan, they don’t have to file any paperwork until March 7. But one School Board member said he may launch a campaign for City Council.

“The School Board is an excellent training ground,” said Foran. “It’s responsible for roughly one-third of the city’s budget.”

Although his seat on the School Board is nonpartisan, Foran has been a member of the Alexandria Republican City Committee since 1977. He said that he has yet to make up his mind about whether to run for council, a decision that would preclude him from standing for reelection to the School Board. But others have already made a commitment to run.

ON THE DEMOCRATIC side, all the incumbent members of the City Council have decided to run for reelection except Councilwoman Joyce Woodson. These candidates include: Ludwig Gaines, Rob Krupicka, Andrew Macdonald, Del Pepper and Paul Smedberg.

Four more Democrats will be joining the five incumbents: Jessie Jennings, Scott Johnson, Timothy Lovain and Lillian White.

These nine candidates will be on ballot for the Feb. 4 Democratic caucus. One poll at the Nannie J. Lee Center will be open from noon to 7:30 p.m. The nine candidates who receive the most votes on Feb. 4 will appear as Democrats on the May 2 ballot. The process, known as a “firehouse caucus” encourages candidates to be positive about themselves while refraining from engaging in negative campaigning against other Democrats.

“Incumbents definitely have an advantage, but it’s still important for the candidates to get out there and encourage people to vote for them,” said Smedberg, a former chairman of the Alexandria Democratic Committee. “I just hope I’m one of the six.”

ON THE REPUBLICAN side, three candidates have expressed an interest in running for City Council: Townsend Van Fleet, Pat Troy and Bernard Schulz.

Because the Republicans have until Feb. 16 to file with the party, more candidates might still emerge. If more than six candidates express an interest, the Alexandria Republican City Committee will hold a primary or a caucus to determine which candidates will appear as Republicans on the May 2 ballot.

“Alexandria is about as solidly blue as you can get,” said Mark Rozell, professor of Public Policy at George Mason University. “President Bush has been such a polarizing figure that the ideological divide created during his administration has worked its way down to local campaigns. I think a lot of the problems that Republicans have been having in Alexandria stem from the increasing polarization in American politics.”