- The Washington Times - Monday, May 5, 2003

Residents disgruntled by high taxes and knee-jerk leftism of the city council long have dubbed their home the People’s Republic of Alexandria. Living up to the sneer, the current council even adopted a French-sounding resolution against the Iraq war — a bizarre issue to energize a municipal government charged with zoning and improving schools. In today’s election, Alexandria residents can vote for a needed change of direction at city hall.For mayor, we endorse Bill Cleveland. With his background as a U.S. Capitol police officer for almost 30 years and the founder of the city’s first neighborhood-watch program, he stands out as the obvious law-and-order candidate. Mr. Cleveland’s credentials as a fiscal conservative are also impressive. Since he was first elected to the city council in 1988, he consistently has voted against bloated budgets and overregulation — most times alone. In an interview with us yesterday, Mr. Cleveland said, “As mayor, I would fight tirelessly to lower tax rates for all Alexandrians. It’s also time to stop government growth. Spending rises every year; the budget went up 6 percent this year despite there being no money. I’ll work for some control here.” As the largest vote-getter on the council in 1991 and 2000, Mr. Cleveland — who is Alexandria’s vice mayor — has a good shot of breaking the liberal lock on the mayor’s office.Competition for the six at-large council seats is intense, with three incumbents and 10 challengers running. In our view, it’s time to clean house. The Democrats are all predictable tax-and-spend liberals, as is Republican incumbent Claire Eberwein, who time and again voted against Mr. Cleveland’s proposals for smaller government. Assuming the three incumbents are reelected, the best choices for the three open seats are Republicans Matthew Natale, Keith Burner and John Reardon — the only ones in the crowded field who promote the private sector over the bureaucracy. The social conservatism of pro-lifers Natale and Burner would offer a refreshing balance and new ideas to city affairs.For too long, tony Alexandria has been run by the far left. Finally, popular dismay over municipal tax assessments, which jumped 25 percent last year, has generated opposition to the status quo. Electing Bill Cleveland, Matthew Natale, Keith Burner and John Reardon would bring some common sense — and lower taxes — to the People’s Republic on the Potomac.

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