Incumbent Mayor Harry J. (Hal) Parrish was voted through Saturday as the Republican nominee for Manassas City mayor in the upcoming general election in May, beating out challenger Manassas City Vice Mayor Andrew Harrover.
Unlike previous years when there has been little opposition,
Challenger Ian Lovejoy won the nomination for one of the three council seats, beating out incumbent Sheryl Bass and challenger Charles Patullo. Lovejoy joins incumbent council members Mark Wolfe and Jonathan Way as the Republican nominees in what is expected to be a contested general election on May 8.
Saturday's Republican Convention was the largest in its history with officials receiving 825 delegate applications and approving more than 600 credentialed delegates.
Many delegates said they attended the convention because they heard the mayor was being challenged and because newcomer Lovejoy encouraged them to get involved in the process.
During their short speeches today, the candidates focused on hot-button issues such as improving neighborhoods and schools.
"Manassas needs to know it is so easy to get involved and that it is an incredibly exciting time to be involved," Lovejoy said.
Lovejoy is just 30 years old but has made his mark in the community as the Vice President for the Point of Woods 1&2 Community Homeowners Association. Many people learned about Lovejoy's efforts to improve the local community's neighborhoods through his involvement with last summer's .
"Ian got me involved," said Lee Morrison, who has been a Point of Woods resident since 1993.
Morrison, who is vice president for the Point of Woods 3 HOA, said he supports Lovejoy and his push to get the city to help with some of the issues in the neighborhoods, such as a lack of HOA funding for road improvements brought on by a sour economy and a lot of vacant homes in the past few years.
"Not a lot of people turned in their dues," Morrison said. "We are behind and need help catching up."
Morrison said the neighborhood associations are looking for grants from the city to get caught up. "We need it and it's justified," he said.
Morrison, who is an Independent, said he also attended the convention Saturday because the mayoral race "concerned him" and he wanted to come out and show his support for current mayor Hal Parrish.
Parrish highlighted the local governement's ability to keep taxes low while in a bad economy. He boasted a balanced city bugdet with emergency funds to spare should we have another year of natural disasters like the city witnessed in 2011.
"Democracy is alive and well in Manassas," the mayor said after it was announced that he won the nomination. But the democratic process did not come without controversy.
Parrish's challenger, Vice Mayor Andrew Harrover, with the message that he would be the one to change the status quo and set a more proactive agenda in dealing with the city's issues of increased crime and ailing academic scores.
But on Saturday, Parrish questioned whether Harrover had the will to be mayor, saying he missed a third of his meetings. He also accused the vice mayor of wanting to raise taxes during tough economic times.
"I was really surprised by the mayor's speech," Harrover said before the votes were counted Saturday. "He went really negative and not with anything that pertians to my record."
Council Member Mark Wolfe, whose supporters said understands the importance of arts and culture in the community, snagged the Republican nomination for one of three city council seats. Wolfe's nomination comes on the heels of accusing him of hiring an illegal immigrant from Russia to dance with the Manassas Ballet Theater Company, where Wolfe serves as executive director.
The blog post contained documents that showed the dancer's non-immigrant U.S. Visa had expired and that a new one, which was denied, was applied for so he could work for the local ballet.
Wolfe told the Washington Post that the blog failed to mention the dancer in question was allowed to continue dancing (with no compensation) while he appealed the immigration officials' decision to deny him a U.S. Visa.