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Votes

On the Campaign Trail

Judicial Selection

What happens to City Councilman Rob Krupicka’s seat if he is elected to the House of Delegates next month? Fortunately for Democrats, it’s too late to have yet another special election.

“When you have too many,” said Democratic parliamentarian Craig Fifer, “they cease to be special.”

According to the city charter, Krupicka’s City Council seat would be filled by Circuit Court Chief Judge Lisa Kemler. The charter does not lay any steps for making the decision, only that the chief judge of the Circuit Court gets to make the call. When Mayor Jim Moran was elected to Congress in 1990, for example, Chief Judge Donald Kent chose Republican Scott Humphrey to fill the vacancy.

“All the Democrats thought it was crazy,” said former Alexandria Democratic Committee Chairwoman Susan Kellom.

Democrats are already talking about potential candidates to fill the unexpired term, which they say is likely to be a graybeard. Names under discussion include former Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-45), former Councilman David Speck and former Del. Dick Hobson (D-45). Ultimately, though, it’s up to Kemler’s judgment.

“If a selection is necessary, I would hope that the person would be someone who already has a strong sense of civic engagement,” said Krupicka shortly after emerging as the winner of the Democratic caucus last weekend. “We have a lot of important issues coming up in the next few months.”

Debating the Debates

Talks are underway for two potential debates in the race between incumbent Mayor Bill Euille and challenger Andrew Macdonald.

The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce has been working to set a date between the two candidates in October and a handful of West End civic associations is trying schedule a debate in September. This week, Macdonald announced that he has accepted a forum hosted by Seminary Hill Association, Seminary West Civic Association, Brookville-Seminary Valley Civic Association and Seminary Heights Civic Association.

“We need a constructive debate in Alexandria on a wide range of issues,” said Macdonald. “This is an opportunity for the citizens of Alexandria to learn more about the two candidates and to have their questions answered.”

This November will mark the first time in the long history of Alexandria when the election for mayor will happen in November. The election has always been in the early part of the year. In recent years, the election has been in May along with the City Council election. But after the Democrats lost two seats in May 2009, the lame-duck members moved the election to November when a critical mass of Democrats would be at the polls to vote in the presidential election. That means that the coming few months are likely to see the campaign between Euille and Macdonald heat up as November approaches.

“My campaign is coordinating the debates with the Democratic committee,” said Euille. “Hopefully, we’ll have something to announce by Friday or next week.”

Captain Pike’s Wheelchair

Some people look at the clouds and see works of art. Other people look at toast and see the Virgin Mary. For some, everything they see looks like a tootsie roll. But Democratic Committee Chairman Dak Hardwick has boldly gone where no one has gone before, comparing election equipment to science fiction.

“It looks like Capt. Pike’s wheelchair,” said Hardwick during last weekend’s Democratic caucus.

Yes, the chairman is a Trekkie — a committee fan of the Star Trek universe. Pike was the captain of the US Enterprise during the original Star Trek pilot episode. During one of the scenes, Pike is severely injured while rescuing several cadets on a training vessel and becomes dependent on a brainwave-operated wheelchair. The device becomes his only means of communication, with the captain flashing a light on the chair once for yes and twice for no.

Perhaps it’s a fitting metaphor for voting equipment — the only opportunity for voters to communicate.