The Ins and Outs of Local Politics

Bear with me, I’m still learning the ropes. No, this isn’t my first rodeo but it’s been a long time since I was active in local politics in any way. It’s been over 20 years actually, since I moved from my hometown. Even then my activity was sporadic. I attended meetings now and then on the village and county level, as well as a couple of meetings when the Congress critter deigned to show up. I also attended some Republican functions. My wife andIf you like your republlic you can keep it - Ben Franklin I distanced ourselves from the Young Republicans when the county chair showed up one night at our meeting and asked what we thought of our new President – Bob Dole. Yeah, it was that long ago. The problem we had was Dole was not the Republican candidate at the time because the primaries had not yet been held. We liked Steve Forbes. What we didn’t like was the idea we were being told who we were going vote for. If I were the county guy, I’d be asking who the YRs liked and why. You know?

So fast forward to our relocation to Virginia. Early on, I contacted the county Republican chair indicating my desire to become involved. Crickets. I’ve been to a couple of county board meetings and that’s about it. I have checked the BOS minutes a few times and I’ve tried now and then to figure out who my representative is and when s/he is up for (re)election. Last cycle I got my answer when a fellow running against him knocked on my door. Guess who got my vote. He didn’t win. Oddly enough, at that poll I came face to face with my rep. It wasn’t pretty. At the time I had a real problem with some recent action. There was a grant to bring some broadband to the county. They awarded the work to a company who proposed stringing lines in the two populated villages in the county. My issue was they already had broadband while the rest of the county was stuck with satellite. I was told he had no choice as it was a done deal when it came up for a vote. Needless to say, my intelligence was insulted if he expected me to believe his crap. No doubt he didn’t exactly lie but he also failed to mention there was a lot of behind the scenes action long before that vote came up. I wasn’t born yesterday.

Now about today, well okay, lets back up a day or two. In a previous I detailed on how I came across information on becoming an election official and a poll watcher. Now the fact is, I really don’t want to do either but I applied for both. Why? I’m putting my money where my mouth is. How can I advocate being involved and holding our representatives accountable unless I’m willing to do it myself? Now on that, I filled out the “interest form” for the election official gig. Then I tried to do the same as a poll watcher. The link didn’t work so I contacted them via email and got a decent enough response from someone there. She said she’d forward my info to the responsible parties. I have yet to hear from either one.

Now the poll watching should be going on now due to early voting that began on September 23. I doubt very much that anyone is watching those goings on. There might be a bit of leeway on the election official bit IF that form I filled out was what was required to be submitted before September 30. That is tomorrow as I write this. According to the Virginia Department of Elections, 15,000 volunteers are needed. They don’t say for what but that seems like a lot to me. Mind you, that’s not partisan volunteers, per se. They don’t work for any party organization or candidate but for the election commission itself. Granted I expect nearly of volunteers would carry some bias one way or another but all should be expected to do the right thing no matter what. Back to the point, if there is such a dire need for people then why ignore someone who raises their hand?

Well that’s a dangerous thing to do with me because I’m not one to sit around and play solitaire while I’m waiting for the phone to ring. So what I did was start looking around. One thing that always bothers me is the near total lack of useful information about something. My county is one of the worst I’ve seen in that respect. For example, the fellow who is supposed to represent me at the county level lists no contact information at all. Others provide an email address. Not this guy. And he’s the board chairman! At least now they all list their term. This guy comes up for re-election next year. I’ll do what I can to make sure this term is his last, if I have to run myself. Other than that, it’s not at all easy to figure out who represents who in this county. The only guide I found is the redistricting document. It lists each district and the boundaries. That’s it. It is a mess trying to find out. There is also a map put out by someone (Virginia Elect claims responsibility but I have no idea who they are.) but that map doesn’t include any names of the roads. Oi. I found a Virginia DOT map of the county and superimposed one upon the other. Then I enhanced it a bit by adding each supervisor with an arrow pointing to his district. Their terms and the email addresses of the supervisors who provided them were on at page so I kept them too. I also highlighted the boundaries.

Now I’m going to post this map where I can online. In addition, I got the idea to start a citizen’s group on Fnbook. If you don’t know this already, I really despise FnBook but I’d say most county citizens visit there so it is a reasonable place to start. Eventually, I’d like to find a permanent home that is not dependent on Big Tech. One possibility is to just fire up a website. The problem with that road is acceptance. As much as I dislike Fnbook, the platform is widely accepted and used. People don’t like to venture outside their comfort zone.

One of my goals is to make things easier for those who represent us. While I chide my BOS representative, I can sympathize with him also to an extent. I’ve talked with several individuals in similar situations. The fact is, being elected to office is declaring open season on your life. We will stop them in the street, call them at home, whatever. I get that. What bothers me more is they all seem to go to the extreme in the opposite direction and become almost totally inaccessible. There has to be a happy medium. Personally I’d prefer a forum-style format where reps can answer questions and receive input on issues. Town-hall style Zoom calls or something similar might be worth considering.

We citizens not only need to be heard but we need someplace to exchange ideas with each other and with those who represent us. It cannot be just at board meetings. Some boards are very heavy-handed when it comes to public input. Others, like ours, are more reasonable but a board meeting with a set agenda and an itch to get it over with is no place to hash out issues that come up without warning. Discussion sure, but I’ve been to too many meetings where some proposal or another is up for a vote and it’s obvious those voting have their minds made up. So much for a public “hearing”.

Today we citizens are facing unprecedented challenges to our sovereignty and this by the very people who are supposed to be working on our behalf. We’ve allowed them to turn our nation on it’s head. Consequently, we also have unprecedented opportunities before us. Never in our history have we been able to communicate with so many at lightning speed. Never before have we been able to quickly and efficiently publish our thoughts and ideas, to promote our passions, even to rally our fellow citizens to one action or another.

Consider this: any citizen can stand for any elected office. This has always been true in our nation but with today’s technology, a citizen can launch a write-in campaign (at the very least), publish one’s views and ideas, gather momentum and support and be voted in to any elected office. Can this actually happen? YES! In fact this did happen not too long ago here in Virginia.

A Virginia State representative from Culpeper, Nick Freitas, decided to run for Congress as a Republican. Due to a technicality, i.e. some paperwork that was deemed to be incorrect or incorrectly filed, I don’t know, he was not allowed to run. It was too late to run for his State seat for his party so he ran as a write-in. He won… big. In fact he got more votes than any write-in in Virginia history. Now I’ve seen Mr. Freitas speak on several occasions via video. He is an impressive man who has something to say and says it well. But the point here is winning via a write-in vote absolutely can be accomplished.

Personally, I’d like to see this be the standard rather than something that only happens occasionally. As far as I’m concerned, we do not need political parties at all. According to the “Open Secrets” website, 2022 federal midterm election spending on track to top $9.3 billion

Now the Federal Election Commission says… United States House and Senate candidates running in the 2022 election cycle reported raising a total of $2.4 billion and spending $1.8 billion between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022

Whose right? Darned if I know. Now I just did a quick calculation. And the combined salaries of ALL 535 members of Congress is slightly less than $100 Million. Who in their right minds spends $10 to earn $1? Well, it’s easy if your spending someone else’s money isn’t it? This is insane. It should not be so. I contend eliminating political parties would go a long way to fixing this problem.

Now what do I mean by “eliminating” political parties? I mean let them go the way of the Whig party. If enough people simply ignore them, unlike some relatives, they’ll just go away. If the write-in concept gained popularity, we would be free of the parties. Instead, individuals would have to make their case to get our vote and then they themselves would be held accountable.

It all starts here, now. Okay, so that’s more than a little presumptuous. Fact is, I’m only tossing my two-bits in here. I am not the first nor the last to express such ideas and for this I am grateful. More and more I’m seeing others advocate for those ideas I hold dear. Local control of government as a base for state and federal control is central to these ideas. Everything else is negotiable. Overall decentralization of government and ideas can be instrumental in reclaiming our nation. For those citizens who yearn for a Constitutionally limited government why not start right here?