Alexandria voters, who this year alone have persevered through a presidential primary in March, a lively Democratic primary in June and a special election for a vacant House of Delegate seat this week, now turn to the Nov. 6 general election.
Voters are going to need help sorting out their choices, because it will be a long ballot. Leaving aside (for now) the races for president, U.S. Senate, Congress, state constitutional amendments and school board, the always-entertaining Alexandria City Council has attracted a dozen candidates (six Democrats, three Republicans, two independents and a Libertarian) and two candidates for mayor.
At least four community debates are planned for council candidates and so far, one of the debates (the last one, on Oct. 24) will set aside a 30-minute period for questions and answers from both mayoral candidates. Talks are underway to do the same on another night as well.
And already a controversy has erupted, with independent mayoral challenger Andrew Macdonald pushing for a separate one-on-one evening with nine-year incumbent William D. “Bill” Euille (D).
But Macdonald, the former leader of the anti-waterfront redevelopment project and a former vice mayor, has been sending out e-mails for the past month urging a “legitimately separate, full-scale debate” between himself and Euille.
“I still think it’s not giving it the focus and attention the position deserves,” Macdonald said Wednesday while putting up campaign signs. “Two mini-debates are (Euille’s) attempt to avoid having a real debate and hide behind the Democratic council candidates.”
Euille, who’s been mayor since 2003 and was a council member for nine years before that, said he’s not opposed to a separate evening, but multiple groups have been trying to organize their own forums, and the calendar hasn’t been completely worked out. He expects it will be by the end of this week.
“I’ve been doing this job for 18 years,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “I pretty much think the citizens have an understanding what my vision is. They may certainly like to know what [Macdonald’s] vision is — and if he wants people to know, he ought to state it.”
In addition to making a choice on the mayoral candidates, voters will have to pick six of 12 contenders for the council. The Democrats are: John Taylor Chapman, former council member Timothy B. Lovain, incumbent Redella S. “Del” Pepper, Allison Silberberg, incumbent Paul C, Smedberg and former council member Justin M. Wilson. Republicans are: incumbent Frank H. Fannon IV, incumbent Alicia Hughes and John R. “Bob” Wood. independents Robert S. Kraus and Glenda B. Davis. Libertarian Jermaine A. Mincey is also on the ballot.
The candidate debate dates (and their sponsors so far) are:
— Sept. 12, 7 to 9 p.m. at Francis C. Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road, sponsored by several West End civic associations.
— Oct. 2, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Old Dominion Boat Club, King Street at the Potomac River.
— Oct. 15, 7 to 9 p.m. at George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mount Vernon Avenue sponsored by the Action Alexandria, the Departmental Progressive Club, Alexandria NAACP and the Patch blog network.
— Oct. 24, 6 to 8 p.m. at Minnie Howard School, 3801 W. Braddock Rd., sponsored by Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, and the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. This is the only one so far that was committed to a separate 30-minute period for a mayoral candidates’ exchange of views.