Monday, November 8, 2010

This could be the start of something big

Random thoughts on the election

The shock waves of last Tuesday’s elections are still reverberating around the country. Winners bask in the glow of victory while contemplating the hard cold reality of the task before them.

Voters indicated that they are paying attention to government and did not like what was going on. All members of congress have been put on notice that they too can be sent packing.

Our own Eric Cantor received more than 50 percent of votes cast. While that is a very respectable margin, it could have been much higher. He seems to understand that he too can find himself in the loser column if he does not deliver on the promises of campaign rhetoric.

In a relative non-event election wise, 57 percent of Goochland’s registered voters troubled themselves to cast ballots last Tuesday. Hopefully, that will translate into a very high voter turnout next year to implement real change closer to home.

The length and depth of the electorate’s attention span, however, remains to be seen.

At it’s birth, the Tea Party advocated change at all levels of government from local school boards to the White House. They believe that both parties need fundamental change. So far, folks have gotten all riled up about Congress, but will they do the same next November here in Goochland when we elect local officials?

In the 2007 elections, only one sitting school board members was unsuccessfully challenged at the polls and two sitting supervisors ran without opposition.

Almost two years have passed since the upheaval in county administration precipitated by the discovery of, at best, mind boggling incompetence in the utilities department.

Incumbents seem to be confident that by the next election local voters will have forgotten all about that mess. Indeed, their refusal to investigate the possibility of legal remedies against former auditors who missed the mess indicates a strategy of sweeping past transgressions under the proverbial rug.

Redistricting as the result of the 2010 census may also play a role in local elections.

Goochland is currently grappling with the consequences of years of gross mismanagement. Just last Wednesday the supervisors were reminded once again that the size of the county’s general fund was significantly overstated as a mater of course for years. While the county is not broke, yet, it must find a way to handle a staggering debt load and provide necessary services to its citizens.

An October 18 joint meeting between the supervisors and members of the county’s Economic Development Authority that included input from representatives of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership offered some interesting insights into Goochland’s inability to attract significant economic development in spite of its strategic location.

The conversation at that meeting outlined basic mechanisms of successful economic development. The upshot is that Goochland needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. The majority of board members still seem to believe that Goochland can pick and choose among lucrative economic suitors and does not need to compete for business.

Goochland has held itself apart from the Richmond Region and is rarely included in presentations to out of town businesses interested in moving to central Virginia.

The companies that have significant presences in Goochland, especially Capital One, which did not develop its West Creek campus to its full potential, are positioning themselves more with the Richmond region than Goochland.

Innocent or wacky questions and remarks offered by board chair William Quarles, District 2; supervisors James Eads District 5, and Andrew Pryor District 1 indicate that they are just gaining awareness of the importance of economic development.

Had this meeting been held about ten years ago before creation of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, the county would probably be in better financial shape.

Economic development is just one of the important issues that confront Goochland and will impact every taxpayer in coming years. Will county voters maintain their interest as the conversation turns to mind numbing local policy discussions or return to the status quo? Will candidates who can win elections and govern wisely step forward? Stay tuned.

Governmental reform at all levels begins at the ballot box.

Don’t forget the Goochland Tea Party meeting this Thursday, November 11 at 7 p.m. at Goochland High School. The main topic will be the county’s finances.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let the county leaders know at the ballot box if you appreciate fireworks on the 4th of July, paid by county employees through furlow days. I for one thank county employees when I see them, for making those sacrifices in furlows and increased insurance premiums!