The field of candidates for Manassas City Council and mayor is starting to take shape as city Democrats and Republicans will decide over the next few weeks who will represent their parties for the May 1 election.

Republicans will gather to choose a slate of candidates that promises to return at least one incumbent to the ticket. Council member Andrew “Andy” L. Harrover, the council’s vice chairman, will challenge incumbent Mayor Harry “Hal” Parrish II for the mayor’s spot and party endorsement.

Incumbent council members Jonathan Way, Sheryl Bass and Mark Wolfe will look to gain the support of Republicans against two challengers: Ian Lovejoy, a 30-year-old Homeowners Association member who works for a medical supply company, and Charles Patullo, a 56-year-old Montgomery County battalion fire chief who is head of Osbourn High School’s athletic booster club.

If history is any guide, the Republicans’ upcoming convention will be influential on the end result. City Democrats have had trouble fielding candidates and it has been a “very, very, very long time” since a Democrat took a council seat, said E.J. Scott, who leads the Manassas and Manassas Park Democratic Committee. There is one independent on the council, J. Steven Randolph.

City Democrats hope this year is different for the party, and plan to nominate Manassas resident Patricia Richie-Folks and perhaps one other candidate for a seat on the council, Scott said. Democrats will caucus Feb. 6 at 7 Manassas City Hall to make a final decision. Those who want to participate must do so by contacting Scott at by Feb. 5. Similarly, the filing deadline to register for the Republican convention is Friday at 5 p.m.for the Jan. 28 convention at Grace E. Metz Middle School. It starts at 8 a.m.

Independents have until March 6 to file with the city to appear on the ballot.

Harrover said he wanted to challenge Parrish for the mayor’s spot to pursue a “proactive” agenda. He said he doesn’t see the city planning well enough for its problems — what he calls a “whack-a-mole” approach, and hopes to change that. He also said that while the School Board runs the schools, the City Council needs to be more involved to achieve higher test score and better results.

“I think it’s time for a different approach to how we run Manassas,” he said.

Parrish, a well-known city name who has been on the council since 1993 and is serving his first term as mayor, said he has been proud to support area projects, appointed city councilors to serve on a joint School Board/City Council committee and would like to work to bring a library to the city.

He also said he hopes that Republican delegates appreciate that Manassas has remained fiscally strong in a down economic climate.

“I love the community, this is my home and I want to serve the people in it,” he said.