The biggest surprise on election night of May 5 was not that Frank Fannon won a seat on City Council but that a newcomer to the City, Alicia Hughes, won as well. It is clear now, however, that Ms. Hughes omitted a great deal about her history during the campaign.
In closely documented articles, alexandrianews.org has outlined a series of civil actions in the last 2 years against Ms. Hughes. She lost a number of them in court including a $15,000 default judgment awarded to the University of Miami, the school at which she pursued her degree in law.
Ms. Hughes also does not appear to follow the law herself. She did not register her car within 30 days as required when she allegedly moved to Virginia in April of 2008. She did not obtain a Virginia driver’s license within 60 days of the move as required. She did not tell the state of Maryland that she had moved. As a result she received a homestead exemption on her house in Baltimore in 2008 saving her hundreds of dollars. Such an exemption is only available to Maryland residents who live at least 6 months in the state during the year. She also did not give up her Maryland voter registration as required when she registered in Virginia in May of 2008. She had voted in Maryland in the presidential primary in February of 2008.
All of these omissions have cast doubt on whether Ms. Hughes really was a Virginia resident long enough to qualify to run for office here.
The question for all of us is why this is only coming to light after the election. Why did the media, local and regional, not look into her background. Why did her opponents not do the same. She was ignored by the Democrats. Clearly her candidacy was not taken seriously and alexandrianews.org is as guilty as the rest of the media in not presenting the relevant facts to the citizens.
She was endorsed by a local paper and several prominent local attorneys who had served in elected office. Clearly they had done no homework either. Does the presence on the City Council of a person who has ignored the law and been sued successfully in three states add to the reputation of our city as well managed? We certainly think not.
Would this have been solved by moving elections to the fall? Absolutely not. This was not a question of turnout but a question of failure of the political process. Both parties have had individuals serve on City Council who did not have the qualifications they claimed. They were there regardless of the turnout.
Alexandrians, like all Americans, must become a little less trusting and a little more inquiring. It is easy with the internet. You can Google anyone. Armed with a date of birth and a full name you also can run a simple public records search on anyone for about $40. You can then ask the appropriate questions. We should have done that before the election. It will not happen again.