Wednesday, May 17, 2006

An Election Just Barely Inside the Beltway

On May 2nd, I voted for the first time in la République populaire d'Alexandrie along with 19.7% of registered voters. I'm still not quite sure why. Out of ten votes possible - one for mayor (unopposed), six for city council, and three for school board - I could only bring myself cast one.

Republicans lose in Alexandria, not by as much as in DC, but by enough. Council members are elected at-large with the top six winning seats.

I actually kind of like the at-large voting system. By not having districts or specified seats, the most popular candidates are elected without the scheming that goes into picking which seat to run for. A more proportional system might elect 2 Republicans to the council, but in reality they would be as powerless as Republicans in today's Maryland legislature. Those 2 Republicans can instead be productive members of society.

Back to the election... Interviewed in the local paper, the Alexandria Times, several of Alexandria's "Republican" candidates made such strange statements that they made the virtually blank ballot attactive.

Most were anti-development - opposing housing in an area where housing prices drive people into the distant suburbs and opposing road construction, improvements, and connections despite significant conjestion and amazingly bad design (although "design" may give them too much credit).

Another was upset that the city doesn't regulate lawn mowers. (I don't generally vote for candidates that I laugh at.)

The last time I checked, the one candidate I voted for received the fewest votes of the 11.

Among those elected to school board was one woman, Blanche Maness, who refused to answer any substantive questions in her interview, saying instead that the superindendent should do that for her. This certainly makes her post-election comments stand out:
Blanche Maness, a winner from the West District, said she wants to create a website where community members can post questions and she can respond.
I would expect her responses to be something like "Perhaps a community member can answer this question."

The Washington Post also reported on the election.

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