An article in Sunday's editions erroneously identified an independent candidate for city council in Alexandria. The candidate is William B. (Bill) Hurd Jr.
Democratic voters go the the polls in Alexandria Tuesday to select city council nominees in a race that has been noteworthy for its silence about the recent bingo and massage parlor scandals in the city.
Eight Democrats -- two of them incumbents -- are running for the six council seats in the primary and, to the surprise of some observers, none is talking about the events that buffeted the city for nearly a year.
"It's embarrassing for people to discuss it," said incumbent councilman Donald C. Casey, who is seeking renomination to a second term. The scandals are "a subject people would rather forget," he said.
Some voters however, apparently have not forgotten and the council's senior member, Nicholas A. Colasanto, openly worries that his chances for reelection may have been hurt by his defense of William L. Cowhig, the former city prosecutor. Cowhig, Colasanto's nephew by marriage, resigned last month rather than face a third trial on bingo-related charges. He was acquitted after the first two trials.
Colasanto, 74, who strongly supported Cowhig when he came under investigation, also was embarrassed when his own City Hall aide, William H. Fields, was convicted of a misdemeanor bingo charge. "But," adds the amiable Colasanto, "I have also been helped (by the scandals) because people see that I am being picked on."
Voter turnour is expected to be light Tuesday, with no more than 7,000 of the eligible 43,000 voters participating, according to City Registrar Stanford Hurst. The six highest vote getters will face six Republicans and two independents on May 1 in the general election.
Republicans are not holding a primary this year because only six members of their party filed for the council seats. The positions pay $7,500 annually and council memvers serve three-year terms.
The recent scandals "are sexy issues to read about in the papers, but not something that affect people's lives," said Democratic candidate James P. Moran. "What people want to talk about are taxes, housing, neighborhoods, and city services," he said.
Other Democratic candidates echohis view, although one candidate, Barbara Joseph, admits to being puzzled by the voters' silence. "I was hoping someone would ask (about the scandals) but so far no one has," she said.
But Marian Van Landingham, another Democratic candidate, said she regrets "the notoriety" that the public attention the scandals created brought to Alexandria.
Casey also worries about lanout from the issue. He was the most outspoken member of the council on the scandal when the issues first were raised in late 1977.
"We were faced with a situation where the police chief and the city manager wouldn't cooperate with the prosecutor (Cowhig)," Casey, an attorney, said. "I had to speak out, or else I wouldn't have been able to look at myself in the morning. The turmoil will have been worth it if we can get the old courthouse politics out of City Hall," he said.
Like Casey, the other Democratic candidates say that in their political coffees and neighborhood tours they constantly hear the same complaints about high taxes and housing.
"Two out of every three people I talk to want their neighborhoods preserved and their taxes lowered," said Moran, a Senate Appropriations Committee staff member. "One out of every three adds a concern about getting more police protection from local crime, and better services from the city, such as better trash collection," he said.
Nelson Greene Sr., the only black candidate in the primary, said he finds voters concerned that "the middle class will be forced out of the city as housing prices continue to rise."
Barbara Joseph, a civic activist, said residents worry the city'd vacant land is being gobbled up by condominiums that "only the wealthy can afford."
Van Landingham, the former head of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, has aruged in her campaign that local government costs might be controlled by use of a volunteer "think tank" she wants to set up with the free services of city residents.
Roger Wheeler, a former civic association head, has told voters that completion of the Metrorail subway system is the only way to keep Fairfax County residents from driving through the city on their way to Washington and choking the city streets.
Ron Williams, the chairman of the city's transportation planning board, has stressed his background in city government. "People keep asking for assurances that a Crystal City-type development won't spring up around the new Metro station on King Street," he said.
Democrats currently occupy four of the six city council seats but only Calasanto and Casey are seeking reelection. Vice Mayor Nora O. Lamborne and Councilwoman Beverly Veidler are retiring.
Robert L. Calhoun, the only Republican councilman, is seeking another term, as is Ellen Pickering who runs as an Independent.
The city's mayor votes on the council, and is elected separately. The current mayor, Frank E. Mann, was elected as an Independent, and will be challenged in the general election by former mayor Charles Beatley, who was unchallenged for the Democratic nomination.
Alexandria Republicans, meanwhile, have not waited until the primary to begin their campaign for the six council seats. They launched their campaign Friday evening at an Alexandria restaurant, and one of them, David Speck, said he though that Cowhig, a Democrat, and the bingo scandals might be issues in the general election.
The Republican candidates include incumbent Calhoun, an attorney; Rose Berler, former head of the League of Women Boters; Margaret (Marlee) Inman, former aide to State Sen. Wiley F. Mitchell Jr.; Robert Hammerman, who is basing his campaign on the dissatisfaction of some condominium owners in the west end of the city; Carlyle C. Ring, Jr., the former chairman of the Alexandria School Board, and Speck, former chairman of a city committee concerned with drug and alcohol abuse.
Also running in the general election as Independents will be incumbent Pickering, and William Hurt, who is expected to make historic preservation a campaign issue.
The winners will take office July 1.