Some angry Alexandria taxpayers call them "Tweedledee and Tweedledum." Others, more polite, refer to them as "two peas in a pod."
No matter. Neither incumbent Alexandria Mayor Charles Beatley nor his opponent, Vice Mayor Robert Calhoun--the first Republican to run for mayor in the city in more than 100 years--expects voters to have any trouble separating the princes from the peas in Tuesday's elections.
"I'm a straight shooter, and I think the people of this city know that," says Beatley, 65, a four-term mayor and retired airline pilot. "A city needs someone to serve as an anchor, and I've been that, too."
Calhoun concurs, up to a point. "Chuck Beatley has become kind of an institution in this city, and I think the people are ready for a change," says Calhoun, 44, a moderate Republican and partner in a Connecticut Avenue law firm.
In politically moderate Alexandria, where the biggest issue in this year's campaign has been whether to impose a trash collection fee, differences in political style have loomed large. In a city where consensus has tended to rule for most of the past decade, this race has been described by both sides as unusually partisan and hard fought.
There is, however, more at stake Tuesday than the mayor's gavel. All six council seats, currently occupied by three Democrats and three Republicans, are open. Fourteen candidates are competing for the seats, six each from the Democratic and Republican parties, and two independent candidates. Democratic incumbents Donald Casey and James Moran, and Republicans Carlyle Ring and Marlee Inman are seeking reelection.
Beatley is unquestionably the grand old man of the city's Democratic politics, running on his record and, in a time of federal budget cutbacks, his party's name. He was lured out of retirement in 1979 by a bipartisan coalition of local politicians, and he is counting on bipartisan support to win again this time.
With his weathered face, slow-spreading grin and thinning silver hair, he looks the part of the small-town mayor who likes to refer to Alexandria as a "village on the Potomac," a village he says has evolved with his guidance from a sleepy southern town run by insurance agents and utilities contractors to a modern, efficient city. The revitalization of Old Town, the city's historic center, and the settling of a major part of the city's waterfront title dispute are among the projects he considers his best.
Beatley has fostered a "town meeting" style of government, in which everyone gets his say. "Before me, it was always 'State your case quickly, we don't have much time,' " he says with pride.
The mayor's reign has also become famous for long council meetings, a fact not lost on his opponent. Throughout the campaign Calhoun has castigated Beatley for what he considers Beatley's lackadaisical leadership.
"It's fine to listen to everyone, but in the end you've got to get things done, and that takes too long here," he says. "I object to running things like a family dinner, with everyone sitting around saying whatever pops into his or her head. The council has to set policy, not just react."
Democrats concede that Calhoun is popular. Fast-talking, often witty, he ran successfully for council in 1976, and in 1979 he outpolled the other council candidates, and became vice mayor. His mayoral bid will test the growing strength of Alexandria's well-organized Republican party. At local candidates' nights, it is Calhoun, not Beatley, who has plastered the walls with red, white and blue campaign posters.
Throughout the campaign Democrats have made frequent reference to the $2.8 million in federal aid Alexandria will lose this year, an amount that will increase to $4.4 million in 1983. Asked if and how the city will make up those losses, which will eliminate local job-training programs and food programs for the elderly, Beatley says there can be "no clear answers," but that innovative management is a must. "These programs are important, there's no doubt about that. I came up as a Depression kid. We'll fight to keep what we can; it's not going to be easy."
Calhoun is both more specific and sanguine. He believes that programs like job-training programs are better run by state and federal governments. Nutrition programs for the elderly and tutoring for disadvantaged students, he says, are relatively inexpensive, proven to be effective and worth saving.
He acknowledges that stance will cost him some Republican votes. A newly formed group called the Coalition for Responsible Government has attacked both Beatley and Calhoun for "continued high spending and taxes" and has endorsed a write-in campaign for former mayor Frank Mann. Mann, who lost to Beatley four years ago, says he's not running and that a vote for him will be a "protest vote."
This is a list of the candidates in Tuesday's City Council race:
The Democrats: Two-term councilman Casey, 43, a lawyer, is an outspoken, frequently acerbic voice at City Hall. He says that current spending cannot be reduced without creating a threadbare city, and has wrangled repeatedly with Republicans on the issue. He fought high-rises on the waterfront, as well as the proposed mammoth Potomac Center off the George Washington Parkway.
Incumbent Moran, 36, an Alexandria stockbroker, raised more money than any candidate and also has campaigned hard in favor of maintaining Alexandria's social service proograms. "We need a city government that has the guts to make the controversial decisions," he says.
Accountant Lionel Hope, 57, is the only black council candidate on either party's slate. A former campaign treasurer for retiring councilman Nelson Greene, Hope has the support of Alexandria's politically active black community, as well as strong backing by the Democratic incumbents. "My job is to represent all the people, and the ones who need the most help come first--those on the lower end of the spectrum."
Candidate Mark Pestronk, 34, is an Old Town lawyer and past president of the city's landlord-tenant board. He has promised to work on the safety and noise problems at National Airport, and says he will fight for small classes and for programs for gifted children in Alexandria's public schools.
PTA activist, real estate agent and Old Town resident Patsy Ticer, 47, has made a cause of preserving the city's residential neighborhoods and protecting them from Metro-related development. "Neighborhoods all over the city are going to be under extreme pressure from Metro."
West End resident and career counselor Richard Leibach, 40, has served on a number of city boards and commissions, including the Alexandria Community Services Board. He has pledged to work to maintain the quality of the school system and says the council must assess the effect of the loss of federal revenues on a "case by case" basis.
The Republicans: First-term incumbent Carlyle Ring, 50, a local attorney, is acknowledged by most Republicans to be the architect of the city's thriving Republican party. Democrats blame him for divisiveness and partisanship on the City Council these past three years, but Ring argues that competition is good for everything, including politics. He spent nine years on the Alexandria school board, two as its chairman, and professes "an indefatigable zeal" for public education.
First-term incumbent Marlee Inman, 54, is the only woman currently serving on the council and is a former aide to Beatley. Inman says that current city spending levels are too high, and that the development necessary to broaden the city's tax base "must be handled carefully."
Washington attorney Gene Lange, 34, echoes his fellow candidates in his concern for Alexandria's public school system. He believes city government should provide services to the elderly and children who "can't take care of themselves," and suggests that voluntarism is a good way to provide services at lower cost.
Local businesswoman Janet Wilson, 30, a former member of the city's Human Rights Commission, advocates cutbacks in city spending. "If you don't have the money, you don't spend it," she says. One solution to the increasing crime in the city is greater police visibility, she says, urging that unused squad cars be parked on neighborhood streets to discourage criminals.
Retired government administrator Robert Gardner, 57, advocates reduction of city taxes, which he says can be done by "cutting out fat and waste." He says the city is balancing its budget on the backs of condominium and home owners, and believes the assessment for apartment buildings is not high enough.
Management consultant and retired Army officer William Glasgow, 55, is a lifelong city resident who says that his only concern "is an affordable community." At a recent candidates' forum he attacked Beatley for presiding over what he called the greatest expansion of government in the city's history.
The Independents: Nicholas A. Colasanto, 77, former five-term Democratic council member and city manager, is running as an independent after being defeated in the Democratic primary in 1979. He believes that keeping city taxes down will give residents "more services for less."
The campaign of independent candidate Bruce Adkins has aroused much curiosity but limited support in Alexandria. Adkins, a 26-year-old swimming pool manager, has conducted a low-key, some say nonexistent, campaign, and says he is running because he can use the job.