News Politics — 15 February 2009

Republicans Phil Cefaratti and Frank Fannon were nominated as City Council candidates on the Republican slate following last Saturdays GOP Canvass at Minnie Howard, ending a not-so- suspenseful wait for at least part of the partys ticket.

The two candidates ran for six spots on the ticket, meaning the 81 voters showing up at the primary had few heavy decisions to make. But the slates wiggle room affords the party four more candidates to run against the five incumbents and former mayor Kerry Donley on the Democratic ticket, if it so chooses. Filling the slate may not be the best way to place the first Republican on City Council since 2003, though.

Theres some debate in the party about whether or not filling the slate is the right thing to do, said Chris Marston, chair of the Alexandria Republican City Committee. Theres the math argument that some base voters will vote for Democrats and that will raise the bar for our guys, making it harder. There are other folks who think that filling the slate will dilute the resources and energy of our supporters who work real hard for the candidates we already have on the slate.

While both candidates echo some traditionally Republican ideas like deregulating business and spending less, they do not want voters to make presumptions based on their party affiliations, especially in the heavily Democratic city. Fannon and Cefaratti, combining their experience and resources during the campaign, could help them overcome what they deem a constricting GOP label during their quests for varying voices at City Hall. The two candidates even sat on the same bench at the Councils last legislative meeting.

Frank and I are actually just in the early stages of working out how we are going to work together, Cefaratti said. We are, I believe, going to work closely together we think that two Republicans on the City Council shouldnt wreck the Democrats too much and at least we would be getting our voices heard.

Their similarities will influence their level of cooperation as will their different strengths, said Marston, who works with both candidates on their campaigns.

Where Frank and Phil both have the same natural base and support theyll probably work more closely together, Marston said. And when theyre reaching out to different folks theyll probably work separately.

Fannon lives in Old Town, Cefarrati in the West End. Cefaratti is in real estate, Fannon in banking. But they both realize that they will need at least two things to happen in order to join the Council: some Democrats to sway their way and a high turnout from Republicans. A relatively high Republican turnout in the recent 46th District election was so close it led to a recount, and the party seems to have learned from that.

What happened in the 46th District is because people decided to come out and vote, Fannon said. And if we get the core Republicans to come out and vote we can definitely get a seat on the City Council. He estimated that 9,500 votes would earn a seat in what is traditionally a low election turnout. Im not going to win the election unless I get some of the Democratic vote. Thats obvious and I totally understand that, he said.

Im not saying were going to impart our will unilaterally or anything, but I certainly think that we have different ideas and difficult times, I think, call for really deep discussion, Cefarrati said. People who put their voices out there may not always be agreeable but at least they get out there in the air and people can discuss them.

The political moment seems ideal for candidates to reach across the aisle given the politics on the national level, and locally, candidates are interested in a new dialog one that they say has been absent on Council for too long, leading to a seemingly one-party system.

I truly believe that the citizens of Alexandria want to have a two-party system, Fannon said. Thats when things get put out on the table and things are truly discussed in an openly manner.
No candidate has come forward as a definite choice to fill the slate, Marston said, but the party has until March 3 to nominate new party members.

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