Alexandria voters may want to enter their polling station with a cheat sheet during the June 12 Democratic primary. Twelve candidates are seeking the nomination to compete for six seats on the City Council, two-thirds of them newcomers to electoral politics.
One came to Alexandria in childhood as a Sudanese refugee. Another arrived in young adulthood, the son of Mexican immigrants. A former Navy officer, a former teacher, a nonprofit entrepreneur, an architect, a businessman with a political résumé and an antique store owner have also jumped into the race. Almost none, except for the four incumbents, have citywide reputations.
At least two new faces will earn the Democratic nomination, because council member Timothy Lovain is not running for reelection, and Vice Mayor Justin Wilson is giving up his council seat to run for mayor. The seats are for three-year terms, and the pay is $27,500 a year.
All City Council members are elected at-large in Alexandria, which means the first-time candidates need to build name recognition from the Potomac River to the far western reaches of Holmes Run. The current council members are all Democrats.
Republican and independent candidates are expected to challenge the Democratic nominees in the November general election. The Republicans will choose their candidates in a June 7 party canvass on Thursday. Independents have until June 12 to file their intention to run.
Here is a brief introduction to the Democrats in the race, who are set to debate for the final time Tuesday night:
Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, 32, is founder of Fruitcycle, which merged with Together We Bake, a nonprofit job-training program that works with women in need of a second chance. She wants to make council meetings more accessible by moving them around the city with child-care and translation services available, as well as allowing people to testify by video or text. She promises to be inclusive and fight for stronger public schools. She lives in Taylor Run.