Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Dawn of a New Day?

It's another dreary morning outside, but for many in our neighborhood it's the start of a beautiful, sunshiny day.

The results are in from yesterday's elections: Republican Frank Fannon has handily won a seat on the City Council, breaking up the three-year dominance of Democrats at City Hall.

Also victorious: patent attorney Alicia Hughes, a Republican-leaning candidate required by the Hatch Act to run as an independent. Former Mayor Kerry Donley is back on Council as are Rob Krupicka, Del Pepper and Paul Smedberg. Current incumbents Tim Lovain and Justin Wilson, both of whom were in their first terms, were not reelected. Mayor William D. Euille, who ran unopposed, will also return to power.

So political diversity has been attained at last. This can only be healthy for Alexandria's civic culture.

The Democratic loss of two seats is important. Mr. Fannon noted in the Washington Post this morning that he will not be alone on Council and that's critical. Many of us know from former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald's experience that being the single dissenting voice on Council can be difficult and frustrating. The Growler — like many readers a lifelong Democrat — is pleased at the prospect of more balanced discussion and thinking on Council.

Speaking of Vice Mayors, the post is an honorary one usually awarded by the Council itself to the candidate achieving the highest vote. It appears that the next Vice Mayor will not be Mr. Krupicka but Mr. Donley, who squeaked by the popular Del Ray politician with just a few additional votes.

One of the most important consequences of this election is that the tripod of Del Ray's dominance on City Council has lost one of its three legs. Much as the Growler personally liked Justin Wilson, three Del Ray representatives on Council were too much. The playing field is now a a little more level and fair, with two Old Town representatives, two Del Ray representatives, and a flock of West Enders.

Will we ever see a Parker-Gray resident on Council? We can only dream ...

Turnout was absurdly low in this election, and the Growler knew things were bad yesterday for the Democrats as increasingly shrill E-mails were being dispatched from party leaders to rally the faithful. Poor voter participation is just one more argument that the elections should be moved to November.

One other happy note: Helen Morris, our local champion for Jefferson-Houston School, glided to victory as one of the School Board representatives from District A. In fact, Ms. Morris won the highest number of votes among the five candidates. The Growler congratulates her on her win and wishes her all success on an elected body that also makes key decisions ultimately affecting our neighborhood.

So what do YOU think?