Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Reshuffle

Trust the Washington Post to miss the real story behind Alexandria's Mayoral and Council election on May 2.

Yes, the city returned a Democratic slate as usual. But that's as much due to the fact that Alexandria Republicans cannot find, field and support strong candidates or exploit issues like rising property taxes and concerns about the City budget.

The Post devoted the most space to the election of newcomer Tim Lovain, who was quoted at length about his "strong showing," although he was simply stepping into the place vacated by retiring Democratic Council member Joyce Woodson. (Once you have the formidable Susan Kellom and the Democratic machine behind you, it's nearly impossible to lose.)

No, the real scoop is that maverick Councilman Andrew Macdonald, the odd man out on issues like historic preservation, development and the environment, received the highest number of votes and consequently will serve as the new Vice Mayor. Macdonald the gadfly trumped Mayor William D. Euille's right-hand man Rob Krupicka as well as the carefully groomed and anointed Mr. Lovain.

Mayor Euille is probably waking up scowling this morning. Undoubtedly he expected to be seated with St. John and St. Peter at the Last Supper, only to discover that Judas Iscariot has muscled his way in and is preparing to monopolize the after-dinner conversation.

Popular wisdom also had it that Del Pepper was vulnerable, particularly after her poor showing in the primary. Although Ms. Pepper now relinquishes the Vice Mayor post to Mr. Macdonald, she came in a solid second and attracted more votes than the other candidates, including the Mayor's proteges.

So what could have been a ho-hum election ended up with more than a little spice. We should see some fairly interesting dynamics emerging in Council discussions now that Mr. Macdonald has demonstrated he has a power base. We'll see if this is a message that is not lost on the Planning & Zoning Department.