Republican Wins City Council Seat in Alexandria

By Michael Laris and Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Republicans captured a seat on the six-member Alexandria City Council last night, defying political trends that have prevailed in the city since 2003 and giving an emotional boost to local party officials.

With all 27 precincts counted last night, supporters of challenger Frank Fannon IV, a banker at SunTrust Mortgage, were jubilant about breaking the Democratic stranglehold on the council.

"A lot of people in Alexandria thought there was no way Republicans can win," Fannon said. "The citizens of Alexandria are ready for a change -- and not having a one-party system. People like to have options."

The GOP victory is the latest in a series of wins in low-turnout elections in Northern Virginia that have been taken as a sign of resurgence for an otherwise embattled party. Democrats, though, have described the trend as a fluky product of highly localized contests.

A second Republican-backed candidate won a seat on the council as well. Alicia R. Hughes is active in Republican circles but could not seek the party's formal endorsement because she is employed by the federal government, as a patent examiner. She ran as an independent.

Fannon said winning along with Hughes was especially significant.

"To get anything discussed, you need to have a second vote. It was very important. If I were the only one up there, it could have been a lonely spot," Fannon said.

The other winners in the City Council race were challenger Kerry J. Donley, a former mayor, and incumbents Rob Krupicka, Redella S. "Del" Pepper and Paul Smedberg, all Democrats. Mayor William D. Euille ran unopposed.

Two incumbents on the council were defeated: Justin M. Wilson and Timothy Lovain.

"I think we're all in shock," said Patty Donmoyer, who campaigned for Wilson. "The two Democrats who fell were the ones who were on the council for the least amount of time."

Yesterday's local elections in Northern Virginia also included an Alexandria School Board race and a Town Council vote in Vienna. The potential volatility of a low-key May election had party backers from both sides scurrying for the upper hand in the run-up to yesterday's contest.

In a city that went 72 percent for President Obama in November, Republicans were counting on some Democrats and independents to cross over. In interviews outside polling places, some residents said they split their votes, preferring to back individuals rather than vote along party lines.

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