Tributes to Lawson Continue as City Manager's Tenure Wanes

By Hansen, Ronald J. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 25, 2000 | Go to article overview

Tributes to Lawson Continue as City Manager's Tenure Wanes


Hansen, Ronald J., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The tough veteran city manager of Alexandria, is packing her bags as she prepares to step down from her position Tuesday.

Vola Lawson, 65, has managed the city of 122,000 residents for the past 14 years, a tenure more than twice the national average. During that time, she has served under four mayors.

One of them is current Mayor Kerry J. Donley, a Democrat, who said he will miss Mrs. Lawson's professionalism and dedication.

"Vola Lawson has been a consummate public employee who has been dedicated to making Alexandria a better place to live and work," Mr. Donley said. "Her shoes will be difficult to fill." Alexandria was selected this month by Ladies' Home Journal magazine as one of the "best cities for women to live." The city ranked ninth in the magazine's analysis of 200 cities nationwide.

The Atlanta native, who was the city's first female city manager, announced her retirement on her birthday in September.

During her tenure, the city lured or endured major new development, including the planned U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and a planned 300-acre residential and commercial complex on an abandoned railroad yard, now called Potomac Yard.

Under Mrs. Lawson, Alexandria also turned away a bid from then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and then-Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke to build a football stadium there. The move was seen as a victory for local governments to decide their own land-use policies.

Mrs. Lawson also is credited for raising the city's bond rating, diversifying the city government and improving the public housing stock.

"Vola will definitely be missed not only for her character, but for her gift of love and appreciation for all city residents," said Vice Mayor William D. Euille, a Democrat.

Phil Sunderland, the city's municipal attorney, will take over as city manager Wednesday. This week, the City Council unanimously approved his appointment. Mr. Sunderland, who has been the city attorney since 1986, beat out about 90 other applicants for the job.

TOSSING MUD ON MCCAIN

Four retired Navy officers who were Vietnam prisoners of war with Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and presidential hopeful, delivered a letter to Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican, yesterday calling for the ouster of a fellow veteran from the Virginia leadership team for Texas Gov. George W. Bush's campaign.

Paul Galanti, who was imprisoned with Mr. McCain in Hanoi and now serves as chairman of his Virginia campaign, took a letter to Mr. Gilmore's office asking Bush campaign officials to remove Tom Burch, an activist on prisoner-of-war and missing-in-action issues.

Mr. Gilmore is co-chairman of Mr. Bush's presidential campaign in Virginia.

Mr. Galanti and the three other veterans - who together represent 30 years of captivity in North Vietnam - were outraged over statements Mr. Burch made during a South Carolina appearance with Mr. Bush.

Mr. Burch said during the Feb. 3 appearance that Mr. McCain had never sponsored legislation to assist Vietnam and Persian Gulf war veterans and forgot about veterans when he was freed in 1973 after 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.

A receptionist in Mr. Gilmore's office on the third floor of the state Capitol took the letter and said she would give it to the governor.

STICKY SITUATION

A Smithsburg town council member is accused of using his home computer to create a phony vehicle validation sticker.

Michael Rohrer was arrested Monday after acting Police Chief Michael Neuland noticed the sticker on Mr. Rohrer's license plate looked homemade.

Chief Neuland said the Mercury Sable's registration expired in 1996. He added that Mr. Rohrer told him he made the phony validation sticker to avoid paying insurance on the car. …

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