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I Was Not Going to Endorse in the Alexandria City Council Race, But….


now I am.

The partner of Alexandria City Council candidate Sean Holihan donated $3,000 to Alexandria Democrats for Responsible Government, the political action committee responsible for an attack ad against candidate Boyd Walker.

Holihan and Walker are two of 14 Democratic candidates in Tuesday’s primary, where voters will select six nominees for the Nov. 6 General Election.

Danny Barefoot told Patch he made the donation to Alexandria Democrats for Responsible Government because “as a private citizen” he agreed with the PAC’s platform, including its support of the city’s waterfront plan and for smart growth development practices in Alexandria.

“Sean was not aware of my donation,” Barefoot said.


Holihan told Patch he was unaware of Barefoot’s donation until after he made it.

I have to say I’m pretty shocked and disappointed,” Holihan wrote in an email. “I personally do not support nor would I make a donation to this PAC.

Uh huh, yeah right, and I’ve got a really nice bridge over some prime swampland to sell you. Also, I’d point out that Sean and I have been on opposite sides in many intra-Democratic Party races over the years, starting with good ol’ Harris Miller (Sean supported him strongly) vs. Jim Webb (I co-founded the “draft” movement and worked as Webb’s netroots coordinator), and continuing through 2009 (Sean supported Brian Moran for governor; I was for Terry McAuliffe) and 2010 (Sean supported Gaylene Kanoyton; I was strongly for Susan Mariner for DPVA 1st Vice Chair), etc. Sensing a pattern here?  😉

Anyway, as I said, I wasn’t planning to endorse in the Alexandria City Council race, but this story tipped me over the edge. In addition, I had the chance last night at the Alexandria JJ dinner to meet several of the candidates, talk to them, and get a feel for what makes them tick. I’ve read their literature, talked to other knowledgeable Alexandria Democrats, and have decided to endorse the following five Democrats (in no particular order) for the primary on Tuesday. Note that you can vote for six Democrats on Tuesday out of 14 candidates; these are the five I’m most comfortable with based on my criteria: progressive, strong on environmental/”smart growth” issues, grassroots-oriented, sincere, serious, substantive.

1. Victoria Menjivar

2. Sammie Moshenberg

3. Arthur Peabody

4. Boyd Walker

5. Allison Silberberg

P.S. Also note that all five of the candidates I’ve ended up endorsing were also endorsed by Alexandrians for Sensible Growth and Alexandrians for a Livable City (although it’s more coincidental than anything, as I had basically come to the same conclusions). In addition, note that Virginia New Majority endorsed Sammie Moshenberg, Arthur Peabody, and Victoria Menjivar, all of whom I’ve also endorsed. Finally, Democrats for a Better Alexandria endorsed Moshenberg, Peabody, and Boyd Walker, all  of whom I’ve endorsed as well.

P.P.S. If you’re looking for one more candidate, I’d recommend that you check out Melissa Feld (no relation, at least to my knowledge); she’s got a strong bio and I was impressed with her when we spoke last night.

  • pvogel

    You were   a nice person to be at the same table with during the JJ dinner.   I agree with your six endorsements, which aint saying much, because I like all 14!

  • Danny Barefoot

    Will go out a limb here and bet all the candidates Lowell endorses lose on Tuesday. One could potentially slip through but no more than that. When Lowell gets on the opposite side of you in a primary you generally know voters will be with you.

    Interesting that Lowell left out both African Americans running even though they are a sizable size of the community here in Alexandria. As well as Paul Smedberg who is a member of the LGBT community and has been a champion of progressive values on council and is an incumbent.

    Also, who do you think you are to say what goes on in my house with such an air of certainty? I have a separate bank account and am my own person. I am involved in tons of issues across the city, some Sean and I are aligned on, some we are not.

    I don’t tell him who he can support and we have consistently been on opposite sides of primaries and issues including his strong support of Brian vs my support of Terry, Hillary vs Obama (I was also a donor to Hillary) etc. I don’t get permission before I make donations or get involved in issues.

    Maybe Lowell takes a Republican view of relationships where one person rules the other. I don’t and I am not ashamed to stand by a factual and well cited mailer. Sean is not a fan and doesnt think it has a place in this race. I respect his position as well as I respect Lowell’s. I just don’t appreciate the presumption.

  • FreeDem

    Look, I can’t think of anything negative to say about Sean that would undermine him as a strong progressive Democrat. The guy obviously cares about the good of the party and is a man of strong ideals.

    Virginia would be much, much better off with more Seans. So would the party.

    But this is obviously bullshit, and it is not surprising bullshit. You can be a strong progressive Democrat and still make poor choices when it comes to the establishment route vs. the grassroots route. You can be a champion of promoting the values of the left while still being an insider baseball playing jerk.

    I don’t live in Alexandria, but I think Sean is right on the issues that matter most for the city. That doesn’t mean he isn’t an asshole or a jerk. I naturally distrust anyone who is such an insider, like Sean. I would personally never trust him and I think he’s demonstrated poor political judgement in the past, as you’ve outlined Lowell.

    If you think that the biggest qualification for running for City Council is to endorse the grassroots promoting, establishment bashing, Democrats that will shake the DPVA up, don’t vote for Sean. If you think the Alexandria City Council is supposed to focus on the Alexandria, I don’t see any problem with Sean.

    And yes, I know this is a backhanded complement, but let’s get real. Politics is the art of the possible, not the art of the perfect.

  • truthteller

    Lowell, I don’t know the circumstances behind this, but I can tell you that I have a very different perspective on Sean Holihan from you. I know him as someone who supported a very diverse, grassroots oriented Virginia Young Democrats which expanded geographically the number of chapters and dramatically increased the involvement of young Democrats in campaigns.  While I don’t agree with him on everything, his voice has been in my estimation  a constructive and inclusive one in  Virginia politics.

    Sean is his own person and he and Danny have very different views on a number of issues of the day. If Danny and Sean say their views on this matter are different and that one was not aware of the other’s actions, I believe it.

    And FreeDem I think your scandalmongering is unseemly.

  • lara

    As someone who would like to see progressive Democrats on the council, I think nominating a person who didn’t pay his property taxes (until his overdue bill became news) would be quite foolish.  Curious why you think this is something Democratic primary voters should overlook.

  • kevj

    Many progressives in Alexandria needed a push to vote for a completly NEW Council and I have to say these are the 5 that i had been leaning toward myself- mostly because of the Old Town Development plan and affordable housing (ie the Beuregard Plan).  As much as I liked some of our current council personally- during my tenure in Alexandria I am very disturbed how pro-business our council is.  They make platitudes to progressive causes like affordable housing but NOTHING ever happens.  It is time to shake them up.  Sorry Paul Smedburg…………

  • hokieguru

    I picked one of your 5, Lowell 🙂

  • Wild Kitty

    If you are not familiar with Danny Barefoot’s shady past, do an internet search on Barefoot & Nye for interesting reading. That was also the beginning of bad press for Holihan, an otherwise fairly nice guy. Now, once again, Barefoot’s antics are casting a shadow on Holihan’s integrity.

    It is impossible to believe that Danny secretly spent $3,000 on an attack ad and Sean knew nothing about it. If you force yourself to believe it, though, you have to wonder about their relationship. Why would Danny sneak around and do something that was obviously going to blow up in Sean’s face? What’s more, why is that okay with Sean? With partners like that, who needs enemies?

    Sean could have a decent political career, in spite of thin experience and no college education. He’s likable and good looking. Unfortunately, Danny’s bumbling dirty tricks will continue to cripple him. If he wins, this story will never die. Republicans will have a lot to play with between now and November. Holihan may feel what it’s like to be the victim of an attack ad. Frankly, he has Barefoot to thank.