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Manassas Municipal Elections 2012

By Greg L | 1 January 2012 | Manassas City | 26 Comments

Just in case you haven’t yet had your fill of elections in Virginia, there’s a campaign cycle ramping up in earnest in Manassas City right now.  With municipal elections coming up on May 1st that means there’s a Republican convention on January 28th, the outcome of which more often than not determines who is going to get a spot on the council.  Three city council Republican incumbents are up for re-election: Johnathan Way, Mark Wolfe and Sheryl Bass as well as five independent members of the Manassas City School Board: Tim Demeria, Patrick Linehan, Reggie Moore, Pam Sebesky and Sanford Williams.

A few challengers have announced that I’ve heard about, and they seem to represent a more qualified bunch than usual, so at least the city council races may get interesting.  Ian Lovejoy, a pretty well-known activist with an impressive resume, is running for the Republican nomination and is actively working to win.  I know Ian and am thrilled he’s decided to take this on and know he’d immediately be able to make a difference because of his experience on the Architectural Review Board, the Family Services Advisory Board, and because he’s coming out of the rather neglected Point of Woods neighborhood (where he served on the HOA), bringing a perspective from a neighborhood at risk that could be immensely valuable to a city council that sometimes lacks the backbone needed to tackle persistent problems.

Jerry Carman, a conservative activist who is new to city politics, is running as an independent and recently announced his campaign although he apparently has been getting ready for this race since August.  Carmen comes with some solid business experience, an evangelical Christian background, and a set of policy convictions that definitely set him to the more conservative side of the council as it exists now.

The challenge for these upstarts is to quickly build a voter base that will show up.  Lovejoy has to make it through the Republican convention which is only a few weeks away and those conventions are very tough for challengers.  Assuming Ian makes it through, given the low turnout of these municipal elections he and Carman only need to lock down about 1,400 votes to have a strong chance of winning.  When House of Delegate candidates typically knock over 10,000 doors in an election cycle, this isn’t an insurmountable challenge by any means, and there’s quite a lot to talk with voters about this cycle as not all the decisions of the City Council have been all that popular.

Of the incumbents, I’d gather that Johnathan Way is pretty safe, while Wolfe and Bass are potentially vulnerable.  Wolfe’s position with the Manassas Ballet that receives appropriations from the City Council hurts him with some, as well as some of the votes he’s taken that have upset conservatives.  Bass hasn’t done anything that has particularly upset voters other than sometimes not appearing as if she has the intellectual gifts that are really needed to handle policy making in such a complex environment.  To top it all off, some voters are concerned about the amount of money dedicated to the sesquicentennial, the timid way the council dealt with the KK Temptations debacle, rising tax rates, and the absurdly frightened manner in which it handled issues with Gaudencio Fernandez and his monument to anarchy in Old Town.

What I haven’t yet seen is a crush of contenders for the School Board, which has governed a school system that is failing and incapable of doing anything to correct the situation.  There may be a few out there I haven’t heard of yet, but you’d think that with schools failing accreditation and spending tens of millions of dollars with hardly any transparency at all, a dozen or so parents would be itching to charge into the mix with the electoral equivalent of pitchforks and torches.  The school board election is probably of greater significance to the future of Manassas than the City Council elections, yet it has received nearly zero attention.  If city residents don’t step up to the plate and offer some actual leadership on that board, they shouldn’t be surprised when the school systems degrade even worse than they are doing now and certainly won’t have any valid reason to complain.  You get the democracy you deserve, and so far the city has shown it doesn’t deserve a whole lot in this respect, so it gets little.  Very little.

UPDATE: Doug Brown notes MCPS just bought accreditation from some entity I’ve never heard of, in sort of a “we’ll send you this diploma if you send us fifty bucks” scheme.  Very troubling, indeed.

UPDATE 2:  I have more coverage on the city council candidates here from April 23rd which includes more in-depth information and includes information about all of the candidates, not just those who were trying for the Republican nomination.

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  1. Taxed into Poverty said on 2 Jan 2012 at 3:32 pm:
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    I would be happy to support any candidate that will NOT raise my property taxes. Doubling my bill in ten years and crying about not enough money is not going to work for me and a few others. I sometimes think Mr Aveni is the only member looking out for the taxpayer.

  2. JimmyV said on 2 Jan 2012 at 7:23 pm:
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    You seem to have a lot of opinions about the school system. Too bad you don’t have your facts correct. Of the 5 folks you say are running for re-election, none are up this year and two of those people are not even on the board. Having your facts wrong makes me wonder about your opinions as well. And now you are depending on Doug Brown for facts, did you question him on where he got his information? I bet not.

  3. Greg L said on 2 Jan 2012 at 7:28 pm:
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    That information comes from the state board of elections at https://www.voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov/PublicSite/Public/FT2/PublicElections.aspx

    If you would like to help them improve their information, I am sure they would welcome your input.

  4. Ray Beverage said on 2 Jan 2012 at 10:41 pm:
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    Greg, the link you are providing gives the results for the 2010 (and 2008) elections. Didn’t see a listing anywhere for City 2012 anywhere, so drifted out to MCPS website as the Board profile has their term-ending dates.

    The current SB members who will be running are Albrecht, Bushnell and Dance (all elected 2008 and ending 4yr terms). Magee who was special election in 2010 will be running also since his was only a two-year term. I say “running” because at this time have not heard of any dropping out.

    Demeria, Sebesky and Williams all terms end in 2014. These 7 make up the board with staggered terms.

    By the way, was amused at your estimate of the need for at least 1,400 votes to lock down a spot - that is about all that turns out for a city election to vote. As you know from the past, whomever comes out of Republican Convention normally wins. That said, consider this fair City and its voter turnout in the last two City elections:

    In 2008, the Mayor got a little over 1400 votes, and the three Council members (Smith, Way, Wolfe) all got around 1200 each. Smith of course got is judgeship and was replaced by Bass. Over at the School Board side, basically 1000 or less across the canditates.

    In 2010, only about 1200 showed up to vote in Harrover, Aveni and Randolph. School Board side was dismal with around an average of 750 or so across the board except for Sebesky who got over 1000.

    The trend in the City has been less and less showing up for City elections. Considering the number of registered voters, it is dismal. Shoot, look at the November 2011 elections - only about 5,000 or so showed up. Still, it will be an interesting May.

  5. Doug Brown said on 2 Jan 2012 at 11:32 pm:
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    Jimmy V,

    I got my information from the MCPS site and the AdvancEd website. If you have questions concerning their credibility …stand in line.

  6. AndyH said on 3 Jan 2012 at 8:29 am:
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    Ray’s right about the list of candidates.

    About the number of voters, I don’t know that I’d draw much in the way of conclusions about turnout in the last election. It wasn’t contested on the Council side so I’d guess it wasn’t as interesting to folks. I also agree with Greg: if I put up a post on the schools, it’ll get 40+ comments. Most everything else is 5-20. I’m stumped as to why there areen’t a bunch of candidates.

    Mayor is also up for election.

  7. ? said on 3 Jan 2012 at 8:44 am:
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    Greg, will anybody step up to challenge the mayor?

  8. Steve Randolph said on 3 Jan 2012 at 9:20 am:
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    City of Manassas General Election - May 4, 2010 Results
    May, 4 2010 Results - (* Won Seats)

    City Council
    Aveni - 1228*
    Harrover- 1223*
    Write-in - 62

    School Board
    Demeria- 887*
    Linehan- 697
    Moore- 631
    Sebesky- 1004*
    Williams- 945*
    Write-in 11

    Special School Board (2 Years)
    Magee- 311*
    Write-in 12

    Total Registered Voters - 19,546
    Registered voters who voted - 1,695
    % of Registered who voted- 8.7%

  9. Help Please said on 3 Jan 2012 at 9:22 am:
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    Please search out Ian’s webpage and contact him to sign up to be a delegate on Jan 28th at Metz at 9 a.m. for the Republican Convention!

    Please also search out Jerry’s webpage and sign his petition to get on the ballot as an Independent!

    We need both these fine men sitting up there and we can throw the 2 self serving and self loving bums out!

  10. KimS said on 3 Jan 2012 at 12:52 pm:
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    Re: OP’s “Accreditation”

    AdvanceEd is a private company and has nothing whatsoever to do with the VA DOE or Accreditation from the VA DOE or with AYP (Annual Yearly Progress). It also has nothing to with state or federal funding for education.

    AdvanceEd offers a systematic process for improving schools. Schools and districts must meet AdvanceEd’s standards of quality in order to participate in their improvement program and it sounds like OP met those standards and was accredited by AdvanceEd.

    OP was Provisionally Accredited by the VA DOE because it’s Graduation rate was lower than the threshold the state sets for graduation rates. Both Freedom and Garfield in PWCS received the same rating. What does that mean? It means OP, Freedom, and Garfield didn’t graduate enough students under the various different diploma options available in Virginia and the schools are under “review” and on an improvement plan to bring those graduation rates up to the state minimum by the 2015 - 2016 school year.

    So the long and short of it is - MCPS bought into a school improvement program run by AdvanceEd. Part of that program means ensuring that the environment at the school meets AdvanceEd’s standards for accrediting, and OP met those standards.

    Just as an FYI - Graduation rates and pass rates on state mandated exams do not appear to be reflected in AdvanceEd’s accreditation standards.

  11. Anonymous said on 3 Jan 2012 at 1:03 pm:
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    Don’t forget all the recent DUMB land use decisions:

    Sudley Road Sector Plan - impact the Baptist Church and the residents on Peabody Street and Miller Toyota, how much did this cost Mr. Way only to be voted down by your peers?
    More cheap Townhomes in OLD TOWN that only take from the budget for schools and sewer - what you smoking fellas (with nods to Aveni and Bass who voted NO) even though we have documented flooding with many Battle Street residents from too much Old Town Development!
    Prescott House - why are we spending taxpayer money to “shore up” this property for a neglectful homeowner?
    Bike Trails to nowhere over on School Street - in direct oposition to the desires of the African American residents and at a cost of over $600,000!

    Where do I sign up BABY!

  12. Maureen said on 3 Jan 2012 at 10:02 pm:
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    The registrars office which is located by city hall.

  13. MPResident said on 4 Jan 2012 at 7:16 am:
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    Anonymous, I will only answer the question regarding the Prescott home. The City Code Inspectors took the owner to court many years ago and the judge refused to enforce the law. He advised the City he was not going to make the owner stabilize the house but he allowed the City to do so and lien the property. In this one instance the City can’t be blamed, unless you support usung the money and getting it back once the property sells. I personally think the money should be used for this case and lien the property.

  14. Anonymous said on 4 Jan 2012 at 7:24 pm:
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    @ Maureen

    Are you running?

  15. Mary said on 4 Jan 2012 at 7:55 pm:
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    Mark Wolfe seems only interested in getting $$$$ for the wife’s Manassas Ballet care of the Manassas taxpayer, what else has he done? He was against the resolution for regulation of the local Manassas abortion mill for health and safety reasons by the State health department, do folks remember his rambling reasoning to NOT support this? If memory serves he was also the mastermind behind the TAX INCREASE on small BUSINESS proposed last budget which thankfully failed. Oh by the way, it is a REPUBLICAN CONVENTION, so stay away DEMOCRATS.

  16. Anonymous said on 4 Jan 2012 at 10:24 pm:
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    To Mr. Anonymous:

    There was essentially no difference between my motion to refer the Sudley Rd sector plan back to the Land Use committee and the substitute motion to table the plan indefinitely. In both cases it is referred back to the staff and appropriate committee to prepare and propose a revised ordinance. That is why I was happy to vote in favor of the table motion.

    Jonathan Way
    Manassas City Council

  17. Anonymous said on 5 Jan 2012 at 8:46 am:
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    So how much did it cost the taxpayer Mr. Way to “table” the stupid plan forever? Or, do you plan to spend more even money on this and bring it back? Inquiring minds want to know sir?

  18. Doug Brown said on 5 Jan 2012 at 9:25 am:
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    Mr. Way,

    “Essentially no difference,” I would think ‘time’ would be the essence? Indefinite vs definite, no? I don’t know, I’m just asking.

    I will say this was one of the few matters, maybe the only one , where I’ve heard some real criticism of your work, other than that you really have served the community well, and you set a standard of conduct which forces us babyboomers, and whatever those other gens after us like to call themselves, to mind our manners and conduct ourselves with a little more decorum and civility than we would otherwise likely be inclined to do.

    I just request that you run on your own record, which is commendable, in the upcoming convention and let others stand/fall on their individual records as well.
    Good luck at the convention.

  19. Anonymous said on 5 Jan 2012 at 12:02 pm:
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    Mr. Brown:

    Thank you for your comments. I intend to do exactly what you suggest at the January 28th convention.

    Jonathan Way

  20. Doug Brown said on 5 Jan 2012 at 12:44 pm:
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    Mr. Way you’re Anonymous?

    Anonymous you’re Mr. Way?

  21. Ray Beverage said on 5 Jan 2012 at 1:49 pm:
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    “essentially no difference” as Mr. Way pointed out is correct under Robert’s Rules. The motion was to “table indefinitly” (meaning no specific time for it to be returned for resolution). It did not kill revisiting the Sector Plan, only did the return to Staff.

    If the motion had been to “lay on the table indefinitely”, that would have killed it forever.

    There is value in revisiting the Plan: being the one voice at the Public Hearing that defended it, the value is in the infrastructure portions such as roads, electrical, sewer, water, etc. All of those take time to find the Federal or State funding so the local RE tax can stay lower satisfying many voices. In this sense, Doug, your point on “time” is of the essence. Road Dollars live in the world of six-year plans and so if looking to Fed or State dollars, 2018 is already idenfitied….you have to look farther out.

    As for Anonymous points about the surrounding community, he forget the “pig in the parlor” being Novant Health System not forthcoming on their plans - City Staff has tried for three years to get them to at least give a general statement to no avail. Miller Toyota’s comments at the Public Hearing on valid considering out of the Top 50 employers in the City, they are #30. Overall though, this City has to think to the future as we cannot build out - but work to realign/rebuild what we have. The “Five-P” principle is what is needed now, not later.

  22. JimmyV said on 5 Jan 2012 at 10:17 pm:
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    Andy Harrover has a Harrover for Mayor page on facebook. And @Mr. Harrover, you ask why more people don’t run for school board, at least 6 people have run in the last 5 or 6 elections. How much compitition did you have 2 years ago? And 4 years ago? People that live in glass houses………..

  23. Jonathan Way said on 5 Jan 2012 at 10:48 pm:
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    Mr. Brown:

    No. I am not “anonymous.” I have never used a nom-de-plume in any blog correspondence. For me, it is important that public servants be identified with their comments and positions.

    Jonathan Way
    Manassas City Council

  24. Doug Brown said on 6 Jan 2012 at 8:12 am:
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    re: “People that live in glass houses….” Especially difficult and dangerous if that glass house is underwater, where many taxpayers in Manassas find themselves or have crept dangerously close.

    If my personal situation allowed it, I would be running. But I’m still waiting for answers from Frank Wolf and PA at the FBI about some personnel matters in the Federal Government.

  25. Doug Brown said on 9 Jan 2012 at 9:30 am:
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    Mary said about Mark Wolf:

    “If memory serves he was also the mastermind behind the TAX INCREASE on small BUSINESS proposed last budget which thankfully failed.”

    Does anyone know whether this tax would have hit Mr. Wolf’s own business?

  26. Jackie R. said on 26 Jan 2012 at 10:51 am:
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    I am so confused… with all the questions surrounding Wolfe, Bass, the mayor….. why is no one investigating PRIOR to the convention- citizens have the right to know what and WHO they are really voting for. Maybe I am missing something- but there is a LOT of explaining that needs to be done.

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