Food For Thought

The Vote in '07

by Jackson E. Reasor, Jr.
President and CEO, Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives


Jack Reasor

All over the United States , people talk about those years when it is an “election year.” There is a certain excitement with the recognition that this is the year “we get to vote.” Those certain years have a special emphasis on the election process, the candidates and the voting mechanism.

In Virginia , that year is every year! Even in Virginia we talk about the “election year,” but there are no non-election years. There is some type of election every November in the Commonwealth. At a minimum, members of the House of Representatives in Washington are elected every two years. Between those elections, the members of Virginia ’s House of Delegates are up for re-election. You then throw in the presidential election, the governor’s election, the Virginia Senate and the U.S. Senate, and you will find an election every year. Some would argue we need a break occasionally and others will argue that it keeps us in the habit of voting each November.

But are some of these elections more important than others? The safe answer is no; however, I would suggest that while all elections are important enough for us to vote in each one, some elections have more direct impact on our daily lives than others.

Elections generally fall into one of three categories: local, state or federal. Federal elections impact our national defense and federal income taxes. Beyond that, many people believe there is somewhat of a disconnection between Congress and our daily lives.

At the local level, governments in our towns, cities and counties are limited due to the Dillon Rule, which says that local governments in Virginia can only do what the state government will allow. Local decisions are very important and we all need to be involved, but there is a limit to the powers of a local governing body.

I would argue that the area of government that affects our lives most directly and in the greatest variety of ways is state government. It is state government that funds and regulates public education and collects the majority of our taxes. And it is the state that ultimately is responsible for laws and regulations dealing with transportation (roads and vehicles), criminal justice and law enforcement, family relationships, health and the environment, professional and business requirements, insurance and utilities. Who we elect to represent us in Richmond has the greatest and most direct impact on each of us daily.

With that being said, 2007 is an election year in Virginia and it is a very important election year. All 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly will be decided next November. Those 140 delegates and senators (along with the governor) will decide the law in Virginia in all those areas outlined in the preceding paragraph, as well as many others.

There is much in the media today about the importance of the U.S. Senate and congressional races in Virginia that were decided this past November. While I acknowledge the great importance of those races and the decisions we made in our state regarding those seats, November 2007 will be at least as important and maybe more so. The winners next November will be making decisions that are important to all of us every day.

They will decide the future of electric utility restructuring in Virginia . They will decide what the solutions are to our transportation concerns. They will decide the rules, regulations and funding for law enforcement, where hospitals can be built, and how much we pay in state income tax, sales tax, franchise tax, utility tax. Each year, these legislators that we elect decide the fate of over 3,000 bills. That is 3,000 impacts per year on our lives. It is an election year and it is an important one.

So what does that mean to each of us as a citizen in the Commonwealth? If this recent U.S. Senate election in Virginia tells us anything, it tells us that each and every vote counts! It means that we have a duty to know who is running for office in the district where we live. It means we need to talk with others about the candidates and determine who we think will do the best job in Richmond . It means we each need to decide what we feel are the most important issues and find out where the candidates stand on those issues. It means we need to encourage good individuals to run for office (or stay in office).

In this issue of Cooperative Living you will find pictures and information on the current officeholders in the Virginia General Assembly. Learn who is your senator and delegate and then determine if they are running for office again next fall and who else is seeking that position. Support your candidate of choice or learn the difference between the candidates so you can make an informed decision. And then, most important of all, go and VOTE next November.

Remember, 2007 is an election year in Virginia ! And it really is important.

What’s Your View?

Obviously, there are at least two sides to every issue. Do you have a different view? This column is meant to provoke thought, so keep sending comments. Each one is read with the utmost interest. Send e-mail to: bsherrod@odec.com, or send written responses to the editor.  Mail will be forwarded to the author.

 

 

 

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