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Polls Open In Northern Virginia For Special Election

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Magee Whelan, left and Hazel Rigby don't let their politics get in the way of their mutual love of schnauzers. 
Armando Trull
Magee Whelan, left and Hazel Rigby don't let their politics get in the way of their mutual love of schnauzers. 

Voters in parts of Fairfax and Arlington counties, as well as the City of Alexandria, are deciding today who fills the Virginia House of Delegates seat in the 45th district in a special election. That seat was vacated by Del. David Englin, who resigned earlier this year over an extramarital affair. 

Three candidates are vying for the seat that represents a largely Democratic district: Democrat Rob Krupicka, who currently serves on the Alexandria City Council, Republican Timothy MacGhee and Libertarian Justin Malkin. 

Turnout is expected to be low for this election due to the timing of the special election just two months before the general election, and because it's the first day of school in many area school districts. 

The scene was still lively early this morning outside of the Old Town precinct at Alexandria City Hall, however. Hugh Van Horn was one Alexandria resident who came out, however, and he said after voting this morning that the ongoing issues about the waterfront development in Alexandria. 

"We've been concerned about what the city's been doing about the waterfront for some time, and that has colored our opinions of the candidates," Van Horn said. 

While the waterfront and other issues may break down along party lines, outside the Alexandria City Hall in Old Town, two party members on opposite sides of the aisle obviously agreed on one thing: their dogs. 

Hazel Rigby, a Democratic Party poll watcher and precinct captain, and Magee Whelan, who does the same for the local Republican party, both raise schnauzers — one of whom, Sparkles, was with them at the Old Town precinct this morning. 

Sparkles, a star of dog show events with a bejeweled collar, is Whelan's. Rigby has a standard schnauzer, Fiona, and a mini named Teagan. 

Whelan uses this fact as an indication that Rigby's Democratic resolve may be crumbling. 

"I would say that Hazel may be coming over to our side since she’s had standard schnauzers for decades and now she finally has a miniature," Whelan says. 

On the contrary, says Rigby — her decision to get the mini schnauzer had more to do with rescuing it than a change of heart. 

"It had cataracts and we had the cataracts taken off," she says. Of note: Rigby's own recent cataract surgery cost $750; the dog's cost more than $2,000.

So is it time to pass Obamacare for dogs? "I'm thinking we should have that," says Rigby, the lifelong Democrat.


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