For the second time in four months, the Manassas City Council gets to pick one of its own--this time from among 10 candidates who hope to replace former council member John P. Grzejka, who is now the city's commissioner of revenue.
Seven of the 10 also applied for the spot left open when Douglas S. Waldron stepped down earlier this year, and two of those are longtime hopefuls who also ran unsuccessfully in last year's election. The others include a local business owner, a software developer and an assistant regional director for a nonprofit organization.
"It's a very impressive list," said Mayor Marvin L. Gillum after Wednesday's deadline for applicants.
The coincidence of two retirements in less than a year leaves the council once again in the somewhat uneasy position of making an appointment.
"Democracy makes a lot more sense to me than council appointments," said Judith S. Hays (R), the other appointee on the body. "I really do think that that's a necessary evil when someone retires."
In an attempt to speed up the process, the council has scheduled a public hearing for the candidates at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Each hopeful will have up to 20 minutes to speak; then the council will hold a closed-door session to discuss the candidates. Gillum said in a best-case scenario, the council will make its decision by the next day.
When the dust settles, two of the six people sitting on the body will have been picked by other council members, rather than by the people of Manassas, an anomaly that likely will extend the tradition of consensus within a council known--especially since Waldron's retirement--for its frequent unanimity.
Waldron distinguished himself on the council for his hard-right, stand-alone stances. When he resigned, the council picked Hays from a pool of 10 candidates. Hays called herself a "consensus-builder," and the council's choice reflected its interest in her bridge-building approach.
After Waldron announced his retirement in February, former vice mayor Grzejka reclaimed the mantle of the council's most fiscally conservative member. In recent months, Grzejka dissented occasionally from the council, standing out on issues such as funding and construction of an airport taxiway and electric utility rate increases.
Among the qualities that council members may be looking for, in addition to experience in local government and that ineffable "leadership ability," is experience in fiscal matters. With Grzejka gone, the council is without the head of its Finance Committee as well as its vice mayor. Gillum said he will appoint the Finance Committee chairman and that the council will vote on the vice mayorship after the appointment is made.
Hays said she feels the ideal new member is someone with "an affinity for numbers and spreadsheets and just kind of being able to see the bottom line in an instant."
Because Grzejka's term runs only through May 2000, the council does not face the issue of trying to schedule a special election.
In the case of Hays's appointment, in which there were two years remaining in Waldron's second three-year term, the body had hoped to change the city charter to allow for such an election. Before her appointment, Hays offered to step down and run again if the charter were changed.
City Attorney Robert W. Bendall says it is unclear whether the General Assembly will revise the charter in time to schedule an election.
Only one other council member has been appointed since the city was incorporated in 1975. Harry J. "Hal" Parrish II (R) was tapped to fill a three-year term after the death of a member in 1992.
Here are the candidates for Grzejka's seat:
* Walter J. Delisle is a local business owner and past president of the Old Town Business Association, as well as a 1992 Republican nominee for the City Council. He also applied for Waldron's seat.
* James E. Dick is a senior vice president of Resource Bank of Northern Virginia and a member of the Manassas Planning Commission. He applied for Waldron's seat.
* Robert M. Duke is a program manager with BTG Inc., a software development company in Fairfax and is retired from the Navy.
* Austin B. Haynes is a senior marketing representative with L&L Carpet Co. in Manassas and onetime chairman of the city Parks and Recreation Committee. He also applied for Waldron's seat.
* Gillian B. Kane is assistant regional director with Prince William United Way.
* Gene R. Rainville is director of network integration for American Systems Corporation in Chantilly and has worked with the Manassas Office of Community Development. He applied for Waldron's seat.
* Robert W. Schilpp is a deputy director at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He applied for Waldron's seat.
* Jack B. Slimp, Jr. is the owner of Manassas-based Consumer Dynamics and a retired Army colonel.
* Maureen K. Wood is a department manager with Giant Foods and a member of the Western Fairfax Republican Women's Club. She applied for Waldron's seat and ran in last year's election.
* J. Thomas Waters is a staff lawyer with the Federal Aviation Administration. He applied for Waldron's seat and ran in last year's election.