wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Local

Virginia Politics
Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 08/23/2011

Early Virginia primary voting light

Washington Post reporters are reporting from polling places in Northern Virginia, where several legislative primaries are being held ahead of November’s general election.

UPDATE: 11 a.m.

Alexandria

The Vola Lawson lobby of Alexandria City Hall was quiet Tuesday as a few residents trickled in to vote in the 30th district state senate primary race.

Gwen Mullen walked in shortly after 9 a.m and voted for Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka, one of three Democrats vying for the state Senate seat being vacated by a retiring Sen. Patricia S. Ticer (D-Alexandria).

Mullen, who heads a local early literacy program, said she believed Krupicka is the candidate who would best fight for early education initiatives.

“There’s no one here,” she exclaimed to her husband after voting.

“It’s a strange primary,” Mullen said on the off-year election, which is taking place during the peak of vacation time. “Fortunately, I’m in town.”

Several voters said despite the low turnout at the polls, the contest has been unusually active. Marsha Mercer, a freelance journalist, said she received numerous calls from the three campaigns and about two pieces of campaign literature every day.

“I was surprised there was so much intensity in the campaign for an off-year,” she said.

Hazel Rigby, a 75-year-old Old Town Alexandria resident who lives three blocks from city hall, woke up around 6 a.m. to place signs for Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) near the polling site. She wore an Ebbin campaign T-shirt, the one she has worn every Saturday since spring, “except for one day at the beach.”

Rigby, who has worked on political campaigns since high school, said she supports Ebbin for the senate seat because of his experience as a House delegate. So on Tuesday morning, she set up shop near the voting booths, sitting in her lawn chair as voters walked or parked nearby.

“It’s been a long time, so I keep telling myself to get myself a life, then I think, ‘This is the life,’” she said. “Politics is interesting.”

The third Democrat in the race is Arlington County School Board member Libby T. Garvey. (Republican candidate Tim McGhee, a church administrator, is running uncontested.)

Ticer entered city hall a little after 11 a.m. to vote for Garvey. She then took a seat next to Rigby to greet other voters on Cameron Street."l'm partial to women, particularly in elected positions," Ticer said before voting. "She and I think a lot alike, so I don't think there's going to be any change [if Garvey is elected]."

—Victor Zapana

Prince William

Candidates outnumbered voters at one Prince William County precinct Tuesday morning, where primaries are being held for the Brentsville district and state Senate.

Jeanine Lawson, a Brentsville District candidate for the Board of County Supervisors, and state Senate hopefuls John Stirrup and Bob Fitzsimmonds took turns shaking the hands of the few people who trickled in to vote at Glenkirk Middle School.

Those who came said they were motivated mainly by the local race between Lawson and incumbent W.S. Covington III for the county board. Those casting ballots said they want to see new leadership in the county.

“We need a change,” Brentsville resident Juergen Lanthaler, 44 said. “Growth here is out of control and we don’t have the infrastructure to support it. I have three kids in school and they are sitting in trailers. “

Lanthaler, who has lived in the county 15 years, said officials need to stop approving homes until the roads are improved and school crowding eases.

Voters from the region and across the state will be voting in primaries for local offices as well as races for state Senate and House of Delegates.

—  Jennifer Buske

Arlington

Just 50 voters had cast ballots at Claremont Elementary School in Arlington by 8 a.m., according to Jerry Gideon, precinct chief, who said the low turnout was “about right for the primary.”

There was one voter in line when the polls opened at 6 a.m., Gideon said, and he estimated that the school might see 350 to 400 voters pass through over the course of the day-- about 10 to 12 percent of the precinct’s registered voters.

“I was hopeful that with all the money that’s been spent on these races, we’d have a higher turnout,” Gideon said, sitting at his post in the schools nearly empty gymnasium. “If we get 400 votes I’ll consider it a good day.”

Outside, Sharon Perry, the mother of Stephanie Clifford, a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates, greeted a man as he crossed the school’s parking lot.

“You’re not going to find a long line inside!” she joked. “My daughter Stephanie Clifford is running, and she’d appreciate your vote.”

Perry, who arrived at the school around 6 a.m., said most of the voters seemed to know who they planned to vote for.

“Most of them say, oh, I met your daughter, she came to my door,” Perry said. “I don’t even need a marketing pitch!”

Craig Esherick, husband of Commonwealth Attorney candidate Theo Stamos, greeted voters nearby. He said he planned to stay at the school - one of Arlington’s highest-turnout precincts - for the majority of the day.

The couple’s 15 year-old son, Zachary, was camped outside a nearby school, Esherick said.

“The [campaign] trail has been fun,” Esherick said. “We feel good, but we’re not going to know for sure until about 8 o’clock tonight. We have our fingers crossed.”

Outside the gym, Perry’s lobbying efforts on her daughter’s behalf appeared to be paying off: Gloria Fleming said she voted for Stephanie Clifford.

“Her mom is out there,” Perry said. “That’s probably why I voted for her.”

Fleming said she follows the races fairly closely, but has stronger opinions about candidates in the general election.

“Since they’re all democrats” in the primary, she said, “I don’t care as much.”

— Caitlin Gibson

By Washington Post editors  |  11:00 AM ET, 08/23/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company