This post has been updated.
The strangest event on primary election day in Alexandria had to be the Twitter reports that City Council member Alicia Hughes was appearing at polling places, collecting signatures on a petition to run for the Alexandria School Board.
Hughes, an incumbent who’s on the November ballot as a Republican seeking reelection to her council seat, showed up at the Registrar of Elections office, across from City Hall at either 7 p.m. or 7:01 p.m., intending to file her petition to run for the School Board at the last possible moment.
Except she was too late; registrar Tom Parkins and deputy registrar Anna Leider had just closed the door after their cellphones agreed the deadline was past. The editor of the Old Town Alexandria Patch, a local blog, happened to be there, too, and she saw the exchange.
Leider verified it, reporting today that “Tom and I were at the the front door to see that no one was trying to drop off an absentee ballot.
“Tom’s cellphone said 7 p.m.; mine was 6:59. When mine changed to 7 p.m., we looked up and down the street, and no one was coming to the door, so we closed it,” Leider said.
A moment later, Hughes appeared and pointed to her own cellphone, which said 7 p.m. “The filing deadline is 7; It’s a hard deadline, the same thing as at polling places. You have to be in there by 7 p.m.,” Leider said.
Hughes then left the office.
Tom Fulton, chair of the Alexandria Republican Committee, said he knew Hughes was concerned about her father but wasn’t aware that she planned to file for School Board. Her father was recently diagnosed with cancer and Hughes said she wants to devote more time to him.
She said in an interview during the Alexandria City Council meeting Wednesday night that she will not challenge the registrar’s decision because she has too much going on.
“I love being on the Council and I’d like to defend this seat,” she said. “It’s been a contentious three years for me.”
Earlier, she sent a statement to the Patch, in which she said:
“Notably, City Council reelection requires more resources, especially when one is a minority party candidate living, working and campaigning, and especially given certain irresponsible ‘rag journalists,’ non-accountable blogs, political hacks more concerned about partisanship than about people, issues affecting daily life and being in a town such as Alexandria; where the emergence of super-PACs have recently demonstrated a penchant for uncharacteristically gutter politics through expensive mailings on non-substantive matters unrelated to issues before City Council that must be addressed while running a clean, issues-focused campaign,” she wrote.
She has contempt for some local reporters who have reported her repeated brushes with the law over rent disputes with her landlord, and for filing late campaign finance reports.
The Virginia election law prohibits a person from being on the ballot for more than one office at at time.
Three Republicans are running against six Democrats and three independents for the six council seats. In addition to Hughes, the Republicans are incumbent Frank Fannon IV and Robert “Bob” Wood.
Fulton said local Republicans have already sent notification of its slate to both state and city authorities.
“I don’t know the legal peculiarities, but I assume she would have the right” to withdraw if she wanted, he said. “We would be disappointed [if she withdrew from the council race] because we believe she’s a strong candidate.” Hughes ran her first race as an independent, and “We were very delighted when she chose to join our party.”
There are 17 declared candidates for the three districts of the Alexandria School Board.