All over the
, 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.
, that year is every year! Even in
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
are elected every two years. Between those elections, the members of
’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
At the local level, governments in our
towns, cities and counties are limited due to the Dillon Rule, which says
that local governments in
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
has the greatest and most direct impact on each of us daily.
With that being said, 2007 is an
election year in
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
in all those areas outlined in the preceding paragraph, as well as many
There is much in the media today about
the importance of the U.S. Senate and congressional races in
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
. 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
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
. 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
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
! And it really is important.
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: email@example.com,
or send written responses to the editor. Mail will be forwarded
to the author.