Democrats Sweep in Mount Vernon

Democrats Sweep in Mount Vernon

Candidates from both sides were busy all day doing last-minute campaigning. And they all voted.

Delegate Kristen J. Amundson (D-44) and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland were out early casting their votes. Senator Linda "Toddy" Puller (D-36) voted around noon.

Other candidates, Fairfax County School Board member Chris Braunlich, trying to unseat Puller was out early and Purvis Dawson looking to take over Hyland's supervisor's seat, went to the polls with his family.

School Board candidate Dan Storck was met by his son, Ben, when he came to Stratford Landing at 2 p.m. to vote. Later in the day, Marsha Paul and David Kennedy voted side by side at Fort Hunt. All the candidates campaigned until the polls closed at 7 p.m., and then went home or to their headquarters to wait.

In the end, it was a Democratic victory for the incumbents and Storck had beaten back a challenge from Marsha Paul for a seat on the School Board.

The Democratic supporters were hopeful, but not over confidant. The crowd started to swell around 8 p.m. and numbers started to come in. With marker in hand, Paul Krizek started writing in the results for the race between Puller and Braunlich. Supporters got the news that Puller lost Westgate, which was no surprise, but was winning most of the other precincts.

In the meantime, information was coming in about the delegate race between Kennedy and Amundson. Even though there were rumblings of problems with the voting machines at Waynewood Elementary School, the numbers were looking good.

By 9 a.m., the Amundson camp had declared victory and Delegate Amundson arrived at the Elks Lodge. Jubilant in her bright red blouse and jacket, she was received with hugs and cheers.

"I'm not talking until Heath [Baumgardner] gets here," said Amundson, who wanted to make sure that he was recognized when she gave her victory speech. Shortly after Amundson arrived, the word went out that Mark Sickles had defeated Delegate Tom Bolvin in the 43rd District. That brought in quite a cheer, as a win in that race had not necessarily been counted on.

AS WORD ABOUT Sickles spread, one supporter was heard to say, "Who do we still need to pray for?"

At 9:30 the news that Fairfax County School Board Member Mychele B. Brickner had conceded to Gerry Connelly brought even more cheers. Baumgardner arrived and Amundson took the floor.

"I'm so grateful that the voters of the 44th District are bringing me back to Richmond," she said. "I had the absolutely best campaign staff to ever work on a local race."

She thanked many of her helpers, singling out Baumgardner. "You dotted every 'I' and crossed every 't;' I would not be here without you," said Amundson, as she gave him a hug.

Amundson thanked her interns, the so-called 'girls of summer.' Then she turned to the crowd, "All of you gave me money, put up signs, gave me money, drove absentee ballots to Fairfax, gave me money, did lit drops, and when I asked for more money, you gave it to me. As a result, I'm ready to go to work. I'm so thrilled to work with the governor on important issues. I am thrilled, I am honored and my feet hurt."

Amundson concluded by thanking her daughter, "who got me into this when her school needed fixing up." She then said, "Toddy will be here soon."

SHORTLY AFTER, Puller did arrive. She also was victorious. To chants of 'Go Toddy,' she said, "We did it you guys. I didn't do it, we did it. They tried to redistrict me out of the Senate of Virginia and we did it. They threw me a curveball and I threw it right back. Next year, they're going to send me to Texas."

At that point, she hadn't seen the final numbers, but thought they were pretty good. "Iím looking forward to at least four more years. I never had so much help as this time when people knew I was in trouble."

She thanked her legislative assistant, Kate Morosoff and Sharon Barnes.

"There was more stuff in the field for this campaign since my first or second campaign; not just for us, but for Mark Sickles as well," said Puller, who went on to thank her family, her other volunteers, the lieutenant governor and Governor Mark Warner.

"I promise to go back to Richmond and continue to do the kind of service I've done for the past 12 years. I will be honest and direct. We need to move forward and have fair taxation. We also need to work on K-12 education. I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Soon after Puller finished her speech, Hyland arrived. He was celebrating a landslide victory against his opponent, Purvis Dawson.

"This has not been an easy campaign for many of us. We're pleased with the results. Today in Fairfax County, we're able to appeal to the middle class. People who care, want us to do what they expect us to do. We will make Fairfax County a better place to live," said Hyland, who went on to acknowledge Gerry Connelly's role in getting Hyland elected years ago.

"We need somebody like Gerry Connelly to help us save Mount Vernon Hospital," concluded Hyland, asking where Dan Storck was. A tight School Board race against Marsha Paul kept Storck and others watching the numbers. Yet, in the end, he would join with his fellow Democrats to declare victory.

Storck thanked his wife, his childen, his fellow campaigners and a very special friend, Cyrus Rezai, owner of Quantum Press, and the man responsible for turning out Storck's campaign literature.