Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Political Breath of Fresh Air

Yesterday I received in the mail the most effective piece of political campaign literature ever. It was sent by Steve Satterfield, who's running for the Board of Supervisors here in Orange County, Virginia.

The postcard was the model of simplicity. It merely stated the number of county employees and their total salary for 2004 and 2007. It then listed the key personnel of the county by position (not name), their salary, benefits, car allowance and yearly vacation.

At the bottom was a citation for the source of the information, and that was basically it. (Click on the image to expand it to a legible size.)

Of course the message is perfectly clear. In a county where the median income is per family is a little over $48,000, are these salaries, and their growth justified?

I found this postcard refreshing. There's no attack on the opposing candidate (nor even a mention of the Loyal Opposition). There's no character assassination of any of the county administrators. There's no three-word excerpt from a newspaper "proving" that the opposing candidate is in league with the Devil.

There's not even any bolded or highlighted information to guide the reader to the conclusion the sender wants.

Just a simple statement of facts. And Satterfield respects my intelligence enough to let me make of them what I will.

If I think $165,841 is adequate compensation for the job our County Adminisrator is doing, then there's no issue here.

Taking the total salaries and dividing staff into it, I discover that in 2004 the median county employee salary was $19,633. Three years later it's $29,535. If, as a taxpayer who's property has just been reassessed, I'm happy with that increase, then fine. I should vote for the other guy.

Of all the county employees I know, none enjoyed a $10.000 raise over the course of the last three years. So I have to ask, where did all that money go? And, because to Satterfield, I have a list in front of me suggesting the answers.

Thank you, Mr. Satterfield, for just presenting the facts and letting me draw my own conclusions. Dare I say it? Satterfield reported, and he let me decide.

By the way -- there's also some School Board seats coming open this fall. If any of those candidates are paying attention, a similar mailing documenting salaries and growth in the Orange County School System would be equally effective.

- Ralph

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