Alexandria Republicans and Independents have had better nights than Tuesday. Faced with a total Democrat sweep of City Council and mayor's seat, most took the results in professional stride. All but one.
Republican Councilwoman Claire Eberwein, the only incumbent to be defeated in Tuesday's election, refused to speak to the press after the results were tallied Tuesday night. She had also refused to spend election night with her party colleagues at Joe Theismann's restaurant, opting instead for a "private" vote watch at Rampart's restaurant.
In the final tally she received 8,403 votes. This placed her 863 votes behind Democrat Ludwig Gains who secured the final spot of the six City Council seats up for grabs, with 9,271 votes. Eberwein was first elected to Council three years ago after two terms on School Board.
Other Republican vote tallies were Keith Burner, 4,773; Allison Cryor, 6,713; Judy McVay, 7,906; Matthew Natale, 6,328; and John Reardon, 6,724. Councilman and Vice Mayor William Cleveland, Republican candidate for mayor received 8,232 votes to Democrat William Euille's 10,427.
Cleveland, who had given up his seat on Council to run for mayor had been the highest vote getter in recent elections which secured him the title of vice mayor. That position will now be taken over by Councilwoman Redella "Dell" Pepper, recipient of the most votes Tuesday with 12,131.
ACKNOWLEDGING his defeat Tuesday night at Theisemann's, Cleveland said, "I am so proud to have served the people of Alexandria for the past 15 years. I will now devote my time to my responsibilities on Capitol Hill and my family, especially my grandchildren.
"I gave the voters a clear choice. I ran on the issues and I'm glad they came around to my issues — to get traffic and growth under control and to reduce the tax rate. Euille was forced to run on those issues rather than his resume. Now he and Council have to govern on those issues."
Judy McVay, who has run unsuccessfully twice for City Council on the Republican slate stated, "The Democrats spent a lot of money and they talked about partisanship politics not issues. It was the focus of their campaign."
Agreeing with Cleveland, "It was very different from us. We ran on the issues. Apparently the voters of Alexandria like lots of traffic and uncontrolled construction. It's a sad day for the City," said McVay.
THE ONLY Independent in the race for Council was Pat Troy, owner of Pat Troy's Irish Pub. Although he only garnered 3,445 he took the results in stride, but voiced some of the same concerns as McVay.
"The status quo stays in our city. It's not good for the government to be dominated by either party. The city will suffer over the next three years," he predicted.
"I wish the Republicans would get together now and make this a real two party system. If they do I would be more than willing to join them. The Democrats proved they can work as a team. The Democrat machine is the only one that puts it together. You have to give them credit," he emphasized as he sat at a table in his restaurant with his son Patrick M. watching the returns flow in.
Joining Troy both at his restaurant election night and as an Independent was Townsend A. Van Fleet who vied with Cleveland and Euille to become mayor. He received just 1,315 votes.
But Van Fleet differed with Troy on the existing two party viability in Alexandria. "It's a two party system in this city. If you're not backed by one of them you don't have a chance. Also, the apathy factor is extreme here," he said.
"At least, if nothing else, I feel I framed the issues for this campaign and set the tone for the debates. I also feel that I was treated extremely fair by all elements of the press."
Perhaps Troy's admonition about the GOP reinvigorating itself was beginning to take hold even in the wake of the Democrat landslide. Well after the outcome was apparent to the party faithful they were still packed into Theismann's supporting one another.
That was not the case at Ramparts. The Eberwein supporters had dwindled to no more than six sitting around a single table in what one described as, "A private room. No press allowed."