CENTREVILLE – If the campaign for the 1st District seat in Congress has been downright neighborly, maybe it’s because the opposing campaign managers are actually neighbors.
“We go to the same cleaners. We go to the same post office,” said Mary Margaret Goodwin, who runs the campaign of Democrat Kostas Alexakis. “This is a small town we live in.”
Goodwin lives in a three-story home on Commerce Street, the main drag in this historic town of 2,300. Down the road and around the corner, on Broadway, is the Victorian home where Republican Lynn Caligiuri lives.
“We’re completely opposite as far as interests and lifestyle,” said Caligiuri, who is managing the re-election campaign of Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville. “We’ve always been on friendly terms.”
Caligiuri and her husband, Tony, regularly see Goodwin walking her three German shorthair dogs. Tony Caligiuri, who works as Gilchrest’s chief of staff, usually jogs past Goodwin’s home during his morning exercise routine.
Goodwin, a writer who took time off from working on a young adult novel to run Alexakis’ campaign, said she sees the Caligiuri family all the time.
Even though Gilchrest, a popular seven-term incumbent, is expected to win easily against first-timer Alexakis, Tony Caligiuri said the campaign has been especially respectful, and even downright neighborly.
“This has been one of the most cordial campaigns that I’ve ever been involved in,” he said. “Nobody wants to do anything offensive that could be construed as rude or impolite because we’re all going to see each other the next day or the day after that in the grocery store.”
It’s also been convenient. Instead of mailing a schedule of proposed debates, Goodwin dropped them off at the Caligiuri household.
There have been some drawbacks. Back in December, when Tony Caligiuri tried to rent campaign office space on the town’s Water Street, he was informed that Goodwin had already secured the office for her candidate.
Goodwin was originally running the campaign of Ann Tamlyn, another Democrat from Centreville. Tamlyn won the nomination, but dropped out of the race and moved to New York for health reasons. Alexakis, who lives in Arnold, took her place and ended up relocating to a Kent Island office.
When told that the warring campaign managers live in their 18th-century town of leafy streets and quaint storefronts, Centreville residents shrug.
“There isn’t a hotbed of controversy with regard to Tony and Mary Margaret,” said Mary McCarthy, a town council member who has lived in Centreville for three years.
McCarthy is friends with the Caligiuris and said she will vote for Gilchrest even though she’s a Democrat.
As he left the Video Shop near the town square, Gilchrest supporter Dale Bennett, 60, said he did not find it strange that both campaign managers live in little Centreville.
“I can’t see anybody here who gives a hoot,” said Bennett, who has lived in Centreville for 35 years.
Goodwin and the Caligiuris exchange friendly small talk whenever they see each other, be it on the street or at community events, and they do not expect that to change with Tuesday’s election. Goodwin, who helps with enrichment activities at the local elementary school, said she might eventually work with the Caligiuris’ daughter, who will turn 9 on Election Day.
They actually do find a lot to agree on, Goodwin said.
“It’s just unfortunate that he’s a Republican,” she said of Tony Caligiuri. “Because he’d make a really good Democrat.”
-30- CNS 10-29-04