Cyril D. (Dez) Calley, may be the forgotten man in Alexandria's citywide political campaigns. When the shows up at candidates night forums, "The hosts sometimes forget to introduce me," he notes with amusement.
But the 47-year-old Democrat, running for reelection as city attorney, readily agrees that his low-profile campagin for a powerful but unglamorous position has its benefits.
Despite his ties to Alexandria's old boy network, seen by many as a dying force in city politics-and the fact that he once served a prision term for tax evasion-Calley faced no opposition in a recent primary and is running unopposed in Tuesday's citywide election.
"God knows I tried to find someone to run against him," said Jeffrey Wainscott, head of the Alexandria GOP recruitment committee. "I talked to a dozen good people. I said, 'this guy's vulnerable, he can be beat,' but I can't say any of them were remotely interested."
One explanation lies in a provision of the city code, which requires that any candidate for the $42,500 post must have practiced law in Alexandria for at least five years before running.
"That eliminates the kids out of law school from running," said Bill Livingston, a local lawyer. "And any attorney here for five years knows he can make more than $42,500 annually."
But beyond that, Alexandria lawyers say Calley also is friendly with the ruling Democratic elite of the city's legal community, a connection they say has helped squelch opposition to him.
Other Calley friends include Mayor Frank E. Mann, also a candidate for reelection, and former prosecutor William Cowhig, who quit his post earlier this year after he was acquitted of bribery and gambling charges in two jury trials.
"I don't think I'm a member of the old-boy network," said Calley in a recent interview. "But if Frank (Mann) loses the election, then I'll be the only one close to membership who's survived."
Besides Cowhig, there have been other casualties in a year of local scandals involving bingo game and masage parlor irregularities that have shaken Alexandria's political establishment.
Veteran city council member Nicholas A. Colasanto was resoundingly defeated in the Democratic primary last March. And former Virginia House of Delegates majority leader James M. Thomson was denied his bid for a circuit court judgeship by a newly formed coalition of civil rights and feminist activists.
Whether those events signal a new mood amont Alexandria voters, Calley has survived unscathed.
"Dez is good, he's smart and he's fair," said attorney Marvin D. Miller, one of the young Turks who helped block Thomson's judgeship bid. "He likes doing a thankless job, so why challenge him"
Calley's duties include responsibility for the city's legal business, including civil lawsuits, and advising the city council on legal aspects of proposed ordinances. He usually functions outside the limelight, but can have direct influence on major decisions affecting the city.
Appointed city attorney in 1975 and elected, without opposition, in 1976. Calley is regarded as a matter of Alexandria's city code, thought to be one of the most complex in the state (it goes back to the city's founding in 1749).
Still, his time around City Hall has been marked by controversy.
In 1972, while he was the number two man in the city attorney's office, Calley was convicted of failure to file two income tax returns. After serving 60 days in federal prison for the misdemeanor charges, Calley, the father of eight children, went back to work for the city.
Three years later, so much controversy swelled around Calley's relationship with the owner of a gas station the city council was trying to remove from its residential neighborhood that a special grand jury was convented to investigate the matter. No charges were brought, and Cowhig, the Commonwealth Attorney at the time, sealed the grand jury report.
During the recent bingo and massage parlor scandals. Calley was accused by some city council members of moving too slowly in enforcing the city codes, especially against bingo games involving Cowhig and another Calley acquaintance, attorney James I. Burkhardt. Calley denies the allegation.
Additionally some council members charge, in an era of escalating taxes, Calley has been tardy in bringing lawsuits against property owners who have not paid back taxes. One such firm includes Mayor Mann. Several weeks ago Calley said a "slip-up" in his office would prevent the long-de-layed case against that firm from coming to trial until after Tuesday' election.
"A scrupulous detachment from the people involved in legal matters is lacking in his actions," said one city hall insider. cBut he is not afraid to give a legal opinion, something you could almost never get from his predecessor."
Calley himself said he joined the city attorney's office in 1964 because he wanted a lawyer's job with security, and has come to like the challenge "of a specialty of law that nobody else knows much about"
He did not pursue alleged bingo or massage parlor violations "because prosecution is the job of the Commonwealth Attorney." He said his overworked staff moved "as quickly as we could" on unpaid taxes, and denied showing favoritism to mayor Mann.
"I'll win on Tuesday, but I won't get as many votes as the council candidates," Calley said. "Most people don't know who I am." CAPTION: Picture, CYRIL D. CALLEY . . . sole candidate for city attorney