Alexandria Mayor Charles E. Beatley, who once seemed as permanent in Alexandria as the waterfront, is promising not to fade away after he presides over his final City Council meeting tonight.
But many are saying his departure will signal a less partisan council than those he oversaw during his 15 years as the city's top elected official.
"I'm not going to fade away," said the 69-year-old white-haired mayor, who lost his bid for a sixth three-year term May 7.
"I'm going to be so active a lot of people will think I'm still the mayor."
Former vice mayor James P. Moran, buoyed by heavy Republican support, defeated Beatley by 2,000 votes last spring and many are saying there will be far less partisan strife on the seven-member council when Moran takes office July 1.
With the loss of both Beatley and three-term Democratic council member Donald C. Casey, who was the only other incumbent defeated May 7, the Democratic Party, which firmly directed Alexandria politics for most of this century, has lost its grip on City Hall.
Many Democratic Party officials, including Treasurer Richard Leibach, have said that Moran split the party when he left the Democratic ticket in March to challenge Beatley as an independent.
Moran is likely to emerge as the crucial vote on the new seven-member council, comprised of the mayor-elect, three Republicans and three Democrats. Republicans Margaret B. Inman, Carlyle C. Ring, and Robert L. Calhoun all received heavy voter support May 7 outpolling most of the Democrats in the field. Inman, as the top vote getter is expected to be named vice mayor July 1.
Democrats are worried that Moran, who recently said that in Alexandria "the Democratic Party too often votes party over principle," may side with Republicans on key issues.
"I think that Calhoun and Ring will be the leaders," Casey yesterday. "Jim is mouthing the fact that he is a lifelong Democrat, but Republicans elected him . . . . As far as I see it, no party has a working majority."
Though another Democrat, Redella (Del) Pepper, a former Beatley aide, replaces Casey, as a newcomer she is not expected to be as forceful or, at least, as outspoken as Casey, a nine-year council veteran.
"They know they can't control me," Moran said about the Democratic Central Committee, with whom he is currently bickering. Moran has asked his supporters to reject the central committee's choice of Dr. F.J. Pepper as deputy chairman and also said publicly that he would like to infuse "new blood" into the party by replacing some of its leaders.
"He wants a blood bath, not just new blood," said Beatley. "A leader is supposed to persuade people, not just replace the bodies.
"I've never seen it like this," Beatley, who has been active in city politics since 1951. "I'm not sure what damage it Moran's victory has done in the long term, but in the short term, it's split the party."
Chairman Joann Miller, acknowledging that Moran received "a lot of Republican support," said the in-house fighting was "normal," and even though the party is losing two of its most vocal supporters -- Beatley and Casey -- she believes the party would remain dominant in Alexandria politics. Both Beatley and Casey yesterday left open the option of returning to elected office.
"Who knows?" Beatley said, "If I don't run, I'm sure going to be working for someone who is." A retired United Airlines pilot, Beatley said he plans to spend much of his new free time running a bulldozer at his 300-acre Warrenton farm or managing his gliding school there.
"Will I miss it?" he asks about the part-time $12,500-a-year job he described as "messy but fun" during the election. "Well, let's put it this way. I'm going to be following the dockets and clipping the new articles . . . . I'm not saying goodbye."
Casey, too, says he will not step too far off the political stage. "I'm certainly not going to sit home and watch TV . . . I don't think I'll have any problem speaking out, if I think the city is heading in the wrong direction."