Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I Voted -- Did You?

While the Democratic primaries dominate the headlines today, a democracy of a much more humble sort moves forward. Today was election day for the town council of Orange, Virginia (and I expect a number of other localities across the country).

It wasn't a hotly contested race (that I'm aware of). Just some local folks looking to help lead the town in the direction they think best. All the candidates have a vested interest in the community. Some are pro-growth, and (not coincidentally) are involved with businesses that would benefit from that. Others are concerned about higher taxes and are in positions likely to bear the brunt of said increases.

You could say that all the candidates share the same platform -- enlightened self-interest. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Unlike national or even state officials, members of the Orange Town Council reside and work in the area they govern and, therefore, have to live with the consequences of their decisions.

And unlike most political leaders, town councilmen are anything but inaccessible. Their constituents have no problem voicing their concerns, not just at public meetings, but in the check-out line at the grocery store, on Main Street or wherever they run into their representatives.

I got to the polls about an hour after they opened -- and I was number 20. Not many participate in these "small" elections, and that's very foolish. While the future president may decide what happens in Iraq, and the next governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia may impact road construction, it's the local officials that most affect daily life.

Our new town council will have to make some tough decisions concerning our infrastructure. With stalled or even shrinking revenues, what gets funded and what gets cut? Fewer police officers for a growing population, or less street repair? And what about new development, and the shifting of traffic patterns? What's the balance between a tax rate high enough to pay for everything that needs to be done and one that most people can afford?

It's a big job, and the decisions made by these non-professional politicians can make a huge difference in my disposable income, the character of my neighborhood, and the quality of my daily life.

You bet I voted.

- Ralph


  1. Charlottesville moved its municipal elections to the fall beginning with the last election, so no race here.

  2. I think we're the only ones in this area -- but there may be some other places around the country that have mid-year local elections. If anyone's reading this and lives in one of those places, leave a comment. I'd like to know about it.

    - Ralph