Manassas Republicans returned a well-known name and incumbent to the ticket Saturday, while backing a political newcomer for City Council who has the support of the local tea party.
Mayor Harry J. “Hal” Parrish II — whose family goes back generations in Manassas — won the support of Republicans for a second term over Vice Mayor Andrew L. Harrover. Newcomer Ian Lovejoy, 30, knocked council member Sheryl L. Bass off the ticket, while council members Jonathan L. Way and Mark D. Wolfe also garnered the party’s support.
Besides Bass, challenger Charles Patullo failed to get enough votes to make it onto the Republican ticket. The general election will be May 1.
Party officials did not immediately release vote totals.
Bass was appointed by City Council in June 2009 to fill a vacancy left by Steven S. Smith when he became a Prince William General District Court judge.
Republicans hold all but one seat on the City Council, and nominations at the Republican convention tend to bode well for candidates. Democrats plan to nominate their slate Feb. 6; independents have until March to collect signatures then file for inclusion on the ballot.
The Republican convention saw its biggest turnout perhaps in its history, party officials said, as 605 pre-registered delegates crammed into Grace E. Metz Middle School on a bright Saturday morning. More than 800 registered for a morning when candidates did last-minute politicking for votes, handing out bagels, doughnuts and coffee to the party faithful.
Parrish said in a speech to convention delegates that Harrover was not ready for the job of mayor and that he was proud of his track record of shepherding the city through a down economy while keeping taxes low.
Harrover had proposed raising the Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax on area businesses to fund four new police officers after a triple homicide last February. The proposal didn’t go through, but Parrish criticized Harrover for offering it. “If my opponent will raise taxes on businesses, are you next?” Parrish said.
He also criticized Harrover for skipping City Council meetings.
Harrover did not refer to Parrish directly in his speech, but he said Manassas must change the status quo on issues such as school performance and long-term planning. Harrover supporters showed up with stickers on which the words “status quo” were crossed out.
Harrover said after the voting that he was surprised by Parrish’s speech.
“I was very surprised the mayor was willing to go as negative as he did,” Harrover said. “It was effective [but] it’s not typical of the politics here.” He said he would not run as an independent and declined to comment when asked whether he would support Parrish in the general election.
Delegates seemed particularly enthusiastic to back Ian Lovejoy, a Point of Woods neighborhood resident who said he is a staunch fiscal conservative and anti-abortion.
If elected, he said, he would look to have city residents receive a mailing with their utility bill that shows how their tax dollars are being spent.
Richard Pennefather, a Republican delegate and area teacher, said Lovejoy did an excellent job organizing support Saturday.
“I think there’s a lot of money wasted in the city of Manassas,” Pennefather said. “We have to be more efficient.”
Lovejoy said in an interview that many residents are looking for a new approach.
“People are interested in a fresh perspective and new ideas, and I think I embodied that,” Lovejoy said. He said school performance would inevitably be an issue if he’s elected to City Council: “You can’t be in Manassas right now and not have schools be a tough issue.”
Wolfe, who had been under attack this week from conservative bloggers, said it looked like Republicans were largely happy with the way things were going in the city. “We’ve got work to do in the city,” he said. Wolfe pointed out that except for Lovejoy, Republicans endorsed all incumbents.
“I don’t think that’s a huge mandate for change,” Wolfe said.