On the Campaign Trail

On the Campaign Trail

<b>Try and Try Again</b>

Pop quiz: Which candidate for City Council is supported by the Education Association of Alexandria? Answer: both. The teachers’ union issued an endorsement for Republican <b>Bill Cleveland</b> and a separate endorsement for Democrat<b> Justin Wilson</b>.

"It took me 16 years to earn that endorsement," said Cleveland, who was unable to win the organization’s approval in his previous races for office.

"Well it didn’t take me 16 years," Wilson shot back during a Monday night debate. "And I’m proud to have gotten it on my first try."


<b>The Justinmobile</b>

People call it the "Justinmobile" — a 2007 white Siena donated by Toyota dealer <b>Jack Taylor</b> with a large blue and green campaign logos on each side. Wilson’s campaign finance disclosure form identified the vehicle as an "in-kind donation," meaning that the candidate received a contribution other than cash. In this case, according to the disclosure form, Taylor offered $1,500 worth of in-kind contributions for "use of minivan" at "fair-market value." The giant sign on the side was a separate $500 in-kind donation.

"I want to help him win the election, so I loaned him a car," said Taylor, who is the finance chairman of Wilson’s campaign. "I think he’d make a good City Council member."

Campaign staffers love the attention that they vehicle they call the "Justinmobile" brings for their candidate. Wilson plans to use it on Election Day, visiting the polls and asking voters for their vote.

"I think people were kind of surprised to see it at the caucus," said <b>Todd Ruopp</b>, director of communications for the Wilson campaign. "We used it to transport voters to the polls."


<b>Unintended Consequences</b>

An old saying instructs us to be careful what we wish for because we might get it. As a leader of the Warwick Village Civic Association, Bill Cleveland learned this lesson the hard way. He led an effort to persuade the Police Department to crack down on cars speeding through the neighborhood, endangering the lives of pedestrians and children. He was thrilled when officers agreed to comply with the request. But the story didn’t end there.

"You know who the first one stopped for speeding was?" asked Cleveland at one campaign event. "Me!"


<b>Partisan Participation</b>

Some people think that Alexandria’s tri-annual springtime elections are a waste of time and money. Because only 20 percent of registered voters participated in last year’s election, these people say, moving the City Council and School Board elections would save money and increase participation. Yet critics of a proposal to move the city’s May elections to the crowded November ballot say that it would increase the number of party-line votes for Democrats.

"I don’t think the city races would be overshadowed by what’s on the top of the ticket," said Justin Wilson, who supports moving the city election to November, during an exchange earlier this week. "Look at the experience of our neighbors in Arlington and Fairfax."

"All Democrats," responded Cleveland, who opposes moving the city races to November.


<b>Dr. No</b>

"Dr. No" was the title of <b>Ian Fleming</b>’s first novel starring the character of James Bond in 1958. In 1962, the book was made into a blockbuster movie staring <b>Sean Connery</b>. But the title of "Dr. No" is not limited to Bond and Connery. Here in Alexandria, it’s a nickname proudly claimed by Bill Cleveland.

"I supported preserving historic buildings, and this is how I got to be known as Dr. No," said Cleveland. "These buildings have medallions on them, and you just can’t destroy the historic character of this city on a whim."