Last night was the swearing-in ceremony for the recently elected members of the Manassas City Council and the Mayor. And at this point I want to especially congratulate Pam Sebesky and Mark Wolfe. Now with Democrat Ken Elston, we now have 3 Democrats on the Council which is historic. Also, making history is the presence of 2 women on the Council, Pam and Republican Sheryl Bass.
In addition to the swearing-in, the Vice Mayor was also elected. During the vote, the GOP Kabuki theatre was unmasked. The pre-arranged agreement between Mark Aveni and Sheryl Bass uncovered what we can expect to be the paradigm for future votes. Sheryl was basically ousted from running by the GOP after filling the position vacated now Judge Steve Smith in 2009-2012. She ran in 2014 and won with support from Democrats in an effort to undermine the election of Mark Aveni who used tactics such as telling voters that they could only vote for one candidate instead of 3 as allowed by law. Unfortunately, Aveni won but so did Sheryl who identifies as a Republican although she has exhibited positions frequently that are more in line with Democratic thinking than the narrow-minded GOP.
So it was quite a surprise when Mark Aveni and the Mayor both confirmed that the illegal effort to nominate Aveni as Vice Mayor for 2017-2018 and Bass to continue the term 2018-2019 had been pre-arranged. This secret deal came to light when Mr. Elston nominated Mark Wolfe for Vice Mayor which was seconded by Ms. Sebesky. Then followed the tie vote which was broken by Republican Mayor Parrish eliminating Mr. Wolfe. The second vote was also a tie which was again broken by Mayor Parrish but not until after he was schooled by Mr. Wolfe and City Attorney Martin Crim that the local ordinance does not permit splitting the term as proposed by Aveni. So much for Sheryl getting her reward for supporting Aveni. Of course, Aveni is now Vice Mayor, but he can resign as Vice Mayor at anytime which would generate a new election for Vice Mayor. But the very best part of this fiasco was the predictability of Mayor Parrish’s future role as the tie-breaker.
For the most part, Parrish has sat by and basically ceremoniously conducted the Council meetings, bestowed awards and cut ribbons. But no more. We’ve seen before this election that when Parrish had to cast his one consequential tie breaker vote, he violated his assertions (lied) and decided to vote for zoning that was basically an anti-women’s health care vote. And this was solely for political reasons and actually contradicted the recommendations of the city zoning staff and zoning committee. No doubt, Parrish was elevated by the right-to-lifers but in that vote, he demonstrated a complete lack of integrity which we should see illuminated over the next 2 years. Hopefully, in 2018, we can rid our City Council of Mark Aveni and, yes, even Sheryl Bass.
When Parrish spoke last night, he commented that he wanted the Council to work together for the benefit of Manassas and its citizens: No “R’s” or “D’s”. If Parrish thinks that last night’s performance was indicative of that goal, he is sadly mistaken. Just stick to the ribbon cutting.