- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

Democrat William Euille had a decisive lead last night as Alexandria seemed poised to elect its first black mayor in the city’s 253-year history. With 27 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Euille had 10,427 votes (52 percent) to 8,232 (41 percent) for Republican William Cleveland. Both men are members of the City Council.”I’m excited. There’s a lot of enthusiasm about what this election means to the city,” said Mr. Euille, a native of Alexandria. “This is an historical moment for us.”The majority-Democrat, former slave-trading port city has 130,000 residents and 83,896 registered voters. The city’s population is 54 percent white and 22 percent black.Independent candidate Townsend Van Fleet, 68, a Washington lobbyist and businessman, had 1,315 (7 percent) votes in the early returns. The winner of yesterday’s election will replace Mayor Kerry J. Donley, who decided not to seek re-election after 15 years on the City Council, including the last eight as mayor.”The messages that my campaign delivered were having to do with proven leadership and improvement of the city,” Mr. Euille said.Voters also elected six City Council members and nine school board members yesterday.In the race for City Council, the six top vote-getters out of 13 candidates on the ballot were incumbents Redella S. “Del” Pepper and Joyce Woodson and newcomers Rob Krupika, Andrew Macdonald, Ludwig Gaines and Paul Smedberg.The campaigns for mayor and council were centered largely on concerns about commercial and residential development, traffic congestion and rising property-tax rates. Property taxes were raised an average of 25 percent this year after 15 percent and 13 percent increases in 2002 and 2001, respectively. All three mayoral candidates agreed the taxes were too high.Mr. Cleveland, 54, a 15-year veteran of the council and the city’s vice mayor, ran on a platform of controlling development and growth, having an open and responsive government, and city safety and security. He wants to post the votes of council members on the city’s Web site.Mr. Cleveland also has championed a cap on annual taxes for homeowners, without limiting assessments or tax rates. Opponents have said he has not offered details on how the city could recoup lost revenue.Mr. Euille, 52, who has been on the City Council for nine years, said he wanted the city to rely less on real estate taxes for income. He has said he wants the city to have more affordable housing and to acquire more space in the city.He was elected to the council in 1994. He is co-chairman of the Alexandria Welfare Reform Committee, and serves on the Alexandria Economic Development and Tourism Board.

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