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Posted at 7:52 PM ET, 05/ 8/2009

GOP Revolution in Alexandria

By Marisa Katz

By Terri Hauser

Amid all the hand-wringing and obituaries from politicians and pundits, Alexandria Republicans last week defied the odds, defeated two Democrat incumbents, and elected two of their own to the city’s six-member City Council — Frank Fannon IV and Alicia R. Hughes (an independent backed by the Republicans).

In many ways, Alexandria is as unlikely a place as you can find to launch a Republican resurgence. We hadn’t elected a Republican to anything since the start of the century. Alexandria is “Inside the Beltway.” It is one of bluest jurisdictions in Virginia — a city Barack Obama carried with nearly 72 percent of the vote. There were no national SWAT teams parachuting into Alexandria for our election, no contributions pouring in from across the country. No one thought we had a chance to win.

Yet win we did — breaking the Democrats’ stranglehold with strong local candidates running hard on local issues. Frank Fannon’s roots in Alexandria run deep. His family has been in business here for more than 120 years, and he has a long record of civic contributions, including serving as finance chairman for the city’s 250th-anniversary celebration. Alicia Hughes, an African American patent attorney, burst on the Alexandria scene like a fireball. The Alexandria Commission on Women recognized her in March with its “Rising Star” award.

I watched several of the debates and was struck by the fact that the Democrats were talking about the same problems they promised to fix back when I was party chairman in the early 1990s — while traffic gridlocked more of our streets, open space disappeared from our neighborhoods, housing became increasingly unaffordable for our families and our schools continued to fail too many children. I was also struck by the enthusiasm gap. Far from being demoralized, Republicans were energized and excited about their candidates, while the Democrats were unable to muster their usual troops. Too many years of hearing the same candidates talk about how they would solve the same problems had taken their toll. Alexandrians recognized that the all-Democrat council was part of the problem, not the solution. They were arrogant and arbitrary, and they acted as if they owned the city.

The tipping point came when, just one week before the election, the City Council adopted a budget that increases the typical homeowner’s real estate taxes — in the midst of a recession. The county governments of Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William — even Arlington — all found ways to hold the budgetary line. But not Alexandria, where city budgets have skyrocketed an average of 7 percent a year since the Democrats seized control of the local government.

Hard-core Democrats told tell me they crossed over to vote for one or more of our candidates who impressed them. At the polls, independents as well as Republicans told me they strategically "plunked" for the three Republican-recommended candidates to concentrate their voting power, rather than using all of the six votes they were allowed to cast. Our message resonated.

Alexandria needs balance. So does our nation. And in the end, this historic city where our nation’s founders gathered to plot the first American revolution may spark a new spirit of insurgency against the arrogant excesses of one-party rule.

Terri Hauser is a freelance writer living in Alexandria. She served as chairman of the Alexandria Republican City Committee from 1992 to 1994.

By Marisa Katz  | May 8, 2009; 7:52 PM ET
Categories:  Va. Politics  
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Hopefully, this is a sign of change to come for the future elections. If it can happen in Alexandria then it can happen across our nation so that we have our checks & balances system back in our government. Thank you citizens of Alexandria. I guess that 7% tax increase gave citizens a reality check.

Posted by: curious3 | May 10, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I always find it funny how Republicans only like checks and balances when they're in the minority.

Posted by: profyle424 | May 11, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

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