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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Voting Turn Out For Lynchburg Council Candidates Expected to be Large

I cannot remember in recent years when so many have been interested in the city council elections. This year voters will have a voice for change, or they can decide if they want to continue the current status quo.

A lot of the difference involves the vision we have for our city. What has been happening so slowly has been more intrusion in your lives. I have talked to people who live on Easton Street off Rivermont.

Constantly, they are being visited by building code enforcers who are telling them what to do. If their house needs painting it is mandated for them to complete. If they need repairs, the city is there to tell them to do it or be fined.

And, if you look at many of these houses they are not run down. Yet, the city has been on their backs demanding that the residents act. I can see the need to remove eye sores from our city landscape. But these actions are more for the increasing the assessment value, so the city can reap more tax dollars.

And it makes the question ever so apparent, how much do we want our local government intrude on our lives?

I have often written about the city's uncontrolled spending. Just how many consultations are necessary to make our government work? And what cost do we have to pay as tax payers to fund these adventures by the city?

It is a two edge sword that the tax payers in Lynchburg are facing. We have a government that that has grown into a tax consuming machine. And much of their effort is directed at feeding the machine that has been becoming increasingly hungry with more wants. Unfortunately, the machine is there to serve itself and lost sight of serving the residents of the city itself.

The next upcoming budget cuts funding for the police department. Yet, the city felt it fine to go ahead with a 100,000 dollar consultation to address parking down town. Yes, we need improved parking and we should look ahead. But that 100,000 dollars could have funded two officers on our police force. There were other options the city could have used other than expensive consultations. You can read about them here.

So now you have the opportunity to vote for a change, indications from Registrar Patricia Bower are out:

Days before the election, she said 350 people had already cast absentee ballots,
the largest ballot count in the past 12 years. She said the previous high mark
for absentee voting was in 1996 when 261 absentee ballots were cast.

From The News and Advance

We may be looking toward a record in voter attendance May 2nd.

We hope you join the mass of voters that will be turning out, and vote for the direction you want our city to head.


At 4:48 PM, Blogger Citylivn said...

Could not agree with you more! Great article. I'm anxious to see the turn out. I do feel that we'll see a lot of votes cancelling each other out. There's just so many to choose from and a fair number of them are equal to the task of such a challenge as a city councilman.

Someone once asked me if it would be best to look at this election as if you only had one vote. This election is critical if we want change. Every vote counts, even if the voter only chooses one candidate...again, I wonder if that's a better way to look at it. What do you think??

At 6:48 PM, Blogger B O B said...

I think that is a great idea, but we have three votes and if we do pick the right candidates, it could serve as a block of change for the direction our city is headed.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger Larry Bassett said...

Block voting is all about party voting. You vote for your party no matter who the candidate is because the candidate stands for the party ideology. Supposedly we have had independent candidates in Lynchburg. I haven't been here long enough to know if that is just a little inside joke in town. I actually have this idea that having a city council with a variety of points of view is a good thing. So having "blocks" elected with a "mission" of change worries me. The idea that there are somehow three "right" (no pun intended) candidates also worries me. The council is a collective group that has to work together if they want to serve the city.

And talk about manufactured controversy: I think the council did pass the Bluffwalk project unanimously a number of years ago. Now it is a politically divisive issue. Do we need cooperation and combined thinking on the council or competing ideologies? The information I have suggests that most of the investment of "public" money downtown (about $20M) has been on public buildings and infrastructure -- exactly what the candidates "opposed" to public investment downtown say is what should be done with public money. It looks like $5M in "public" money has been invested in "private" development along with about $90M in "private" investment. This is an 18:1 ratio of private investment to public investment. I say downtown is worth that and more from my tax money. Or is the ideology that NO public money should EVER go for the private good? Or that public and private cannot cooperate in many positive ways? Now there is an ideology that deserves some honest debate.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger B O B said...

Hi Larry,

I appreciate the fact that you have not been around Lynchburg long,and may not understand why the city council and how the city operates should be challenged.

First let me explain one thing, have you noticed that the elections for city council are held in May rather than November. What this has done in the past is effective control the voting. Council members have relied on their friends to swing the vote. In the past you never saw this much interest in local government.

What this has led to is many candidates being unopposed in their election bid. And has resulted in much of a small clique that ran our government that was given a free hand.

You mention Bluff Walk. I think you need to delve into that further. Look at the players involved, who are responsible for the development to their previous connection to the city. This might not be readily apparent, but I think it is worth your self discovery. I know one of these players he is also a good person, but you cannot help to think he is taking advantage of his ties to the city council.

Then, you might want to look at nepotism is our city government. I think you might be surprised of how deep that runs. I have friends that work for the city and many of these positions were gotten because they either knew someone or were related to someone. Its not that this is particularly bad, many of those people are good people and do a good job.
Here is an example that you may not know about.

Now let me clarify one thing after you read this. Karen Carter is a good person and was a good police officer for the city of Lynchburg. I know her personally and the last I have heard she left Lynchburg to work for Amherst and doing a good job there. The true story of what really happened that day never did get out. And the News Paper was wrong on a lot of its assumptions. But that is another story and one that I personally would not tell. And I have heard the story both from Karen and some of her detractors on the police force.

But, the point of nepotism and a friendship network in our city government has been something that has been going on for years. Intrinsically that is not a good way to run government.

City Council has also been a clique that has been hard to break. And if this is the first year that is being challenged. May elections have always worked in favor of the clique, but this year may be different.

You could almost look at this as a country club arrangement. It is refreshing to see new candidates taking this at issue and I hope they present an effective challenge.

I would like to see a new balance in our city government. One that has fresh good eyes looking at what is going on.


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