Sunday, December 18, 2011

Important Call To Patriot Action!



 The Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, in Building F of the County Government Complex, off Mounts Bay Road. Your attendance is very important!

BOS Meeting regarding 'Staggered Terms' vs. 'Quadrennial':

Increasing accountability in County government.

Having the County elect its Board by districts simultaneously would mean that any future Board would likely benefit from a clearly defined mandate.  This would make change significantly easier to accomplish.

Having the County elect its Board by districts simultaneously would increase the authority of the Board in relation to staff.

As witnessed in Gloucester, staggered terms contributed to the claims of an insufficient mandate when changes were attempted by a Board majority, portions of which were elected in different cycles.

Counties that operate with a district system but without staggered terms (e.g. Charles City, Henrico, New Kent, and York; James City is the only county on the Peninsula with staggered terms for Supervisors elected by districts) have no discernable disadvantage when compared to those that do.

There is no evidence that the rate of incumbent retention is negatively affected by eliminating staggered terms, making the “inexperienced Board” argument completely invalid.  Charles City, Henrico, New Kent, and York have incumbent retention rates similar to those of James City. 

Ending voter disenfranchisement.

Requiring any James City County residents to wait six years to vote on their representatives to County government is just wrong – and there is no benefit, perceived or actual, sufficient to offset voter disenfranchisement.

With staggered terms, voter disenfranchise will continue to occur every ten years.  It is similar to a penalty lottery, where some voters will lose out on the ability to affect County government, while others will be rewarded by being able to have their voices heard more frequently.  

Guaranteeing equality among County voters.

The current system creates two classes of County voters:

Those who vote for their local government officials in midterm elections – when County issues become the focus of the electorate.

Those who vote for their local government officials in statewide elections – when County issues are not likely to receive much attention. 

Preventing incumbents from being prohibited from seeking reelection.

A change of a line here or there makes it very easy to prevent elected public officials from continuing to serve.

This happened in both the 2001 and 2011 redistrictings, where in each case a School Board member was prevented from continuing to serve.

Preventing incumbents from being able to continue on the Board – after they’ve been defeated.
If Dr. McGlennon or Ruth Larson had been defeated in their races this year (or if Jim Icenhour and/or Joe Fuentes seek election to the Jamestown District seat on their respective boards in the coming year and were defeated), they would still be serving on the Board through 2013.  Other than a locality with staggered terms, there is no other circumstance where an event like this could occur.

Those who support retaining staggered terms will claim the following:

The proposal hasn’t received sufficient discussion.  Actually, it’s pretty much all we’ve been talking about since redistricting began.  From who gets moved into a district in a different cycle, to who on the School Board will be ineligible to stay on, to how many voters will have to wait six years to vote on County government, the repercussions of staggered terms have been the primary focus of the debate over redistricting.

Staggered terms benefit government operations.  There is simply no evidence to support this.  Moreover, there is no evidence to support the idea that all of the other Peninsula counties that hold uniform elections have been negatively affected by doing so.

Now isn’t the time to make this change.  Now is the ideal time to make this change.  By ending staggered terms at the earliest possible point this decade, James City County will be able to hold two elections (2015 and 2019) with uniform terms.

The Board doesn’t have the authority to make the change.  Actually, it does.  It is entirely at the Board’s discretion according to the Charter, and they have full authority to so.
Strike a blow for voting rights and government accountability.  Please support to end staggered terms!

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