One relative newcomer, five incumbents and one former Alexandria mayor competed for six seats on the Democratic ballot for City Council, culminating in a strong caucus turnout at T.C. Williams High School Minnie Howard Campus Saturday.
The five incumbents, Vice Mayor Del Pepper, Councilmen Rob Krupicka, Paul Smedberg, Justin Wilson and Tim Lovain, each won the chance to battle at least two Republicans, Phil Cefaratti and Frank Fannon, in Mays election. So did Kerry Donley, mayor of the city from 1988 to 2003.
Donleys presence on the Democratic ballot brings the banker and former T.C. Williams athletic director back to local politics after a six-year hiatus. He has said his experience as a vice president at Virginia Commerce Bank will speak to the citys budget woes, and that a major reason for running in the first place is Alexandrias economic doldrums, expected to get worse before they get better. He had briefly contemplated running for 46th District delegate last year.
I think the citys got some tough times ahead and it got me thinking that it might be better to be one of seven members on the City Council, making concrete decisions affecting my community, Donley said.
A practiced veteran in Alexandria politics, Donley said at the caucus that little changed in his campaign approach except for harnessing a little more of an electronic, grassroots outlook with a website and a plethora of emails sent to his constituents.
Kerry was always one of the most forward-looking people on Council, said Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee Susan Kellom. He had inventive, smart, sharp ideas and a cool steady hand. I think its going to be reenergizing [to the Democratic party].
The slate offers familiar Democratic faces, but a different dynamic. Of the five other candidates, Donley has worked with just one Vice Mayor Pepper.
Missing from the final tally was Council hopeful Boyd Walker, a local activist and real estate dealer who also ran in the 2007 special election. Walker grew up in Alexandria and is the son of former City Councilwoman Lois Walker. His failed second bid for a seat at City Hall means the Democratic roster is without a new face this election season, despite Walkers approach after learning from last years campaign.
A lot has changed, Walker said at the voting precinct Saturday. Last time I ran as an outsider. Im not an insider either Im an independent thinker. But you cant pass through your ideas without the help of others.
Walker joked that he shaved his beard for transparency purposes, but said it also represented a fresh look at his underdog candidacy. He had hoped to listen to people who question an issue and recognize support beyond just the City Council, but lost by 600 votes, Pepper being the closest contender with 1,400.
These are six individuals with different ideas, Kellom said. They will disagree, they will agree, and in the end what they come up with will be best for the city.
Krupicka, appointed to the State Board of Education by Governor Tim Kaine Monday, brought out the most voters with 1,595.
City Council members are elected at large. The winners of the Democratic Caucus will run against the winners of the Republican Canvass, decided this Saturday, February 7 at T.C. Williams High School Minnie Howard Campus. The general election is May 5.