Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: The News of Greater Falls Church

Has anyone not noticed there is an election on Tuesday? Every day brings some new revelation about campaigns, candidates, or suspected cover-ups, and it’s easy to gloat, or be cynical, depending on your perspective. Election handicappers tell us that 2006 is a watershed year, a mid-term election that has a high probability to upset the balance of power in Congress, not unlike the elections of 1946, 1974, and 1994. The hard part, though, comes after the election when the campaigns are over and the winning party has to learn to govern.

My American history professor noted that one-party government could be dangerous, but that our constitutional system of checks and balances could ensure that the pendulum didn’t swing too far either way. Sadly, under the one-party control of the White House and the Congress, the pendulum has swung far to the right, and has gotten stuck there! It needs to swing back, to a place where thoughtful discourse, and differences, can be appreciated and, hopefully, resolved. Our constitutional checks and balances must be restored, and we can do that on November 7 if every registered voter exercises their responsibility to cast a ballot, or with today’s technology, probably touch a computer screen.

Jim Webb (Senate), Jim Moran (8th Congressional District), Judy Feder (10th Congressional District), and Andy Hurst (11th Congressional District) each infuses new energy into their campaigns, and each exhibits an understanding of governance and a passion for public service. Their election will help restore badly needed balance to Congress, and give Northern Virginia new voices to champion the issues – honest leadership, open government, safety and security, retirement protection, energy independence, healthcare reform, and economic and educational excellence – that are so important here at home. We can do that on November 7.

In addition to the Senate and House contests, there are three other items on the ballot that deserve focus and support. Fairfax County voters will be asked to vote Yes or No on two bond questions. A public safety bond for $125 million is proposed for construction, expansion, and renovation of three police stations, the animal shelter on West Ox Road, and the Fire and Rescue Training Academy. A $25 million park bond includes $10 million of land acquisition and $15 million for synthetic turf fields and trail improvements. Bond referendums allow the county to accomplish needed projects sooner; prudent use of bonding authority has no adverse effect on the county’s AAA bond rating or the real estate tax rate. We can pass these bonds on November 7.

Finally, all Virginia voters will be asked to vote on Ballot Question #1, also known as the marriage amendment. This attempt to amend the Constitution of Virginia is a badly written ballot question that would abrogate basic civil rights for thousands of Virginians. At least three statewide laws restricting valid marriage to one man and one woman already exist. However, Ballot Question #1 would deny legal recognition to all unmarried relationships, not just same sex relationships. Enactment could bar enforcement of domestic violence against unmarried couples, and have untold detrimental effects on personal decisions for health benefits, hospital visitation, organ donation, and property rights.

Constitutions are supposed to preserve and enhance civil rights. Ballot Question #1 does neither. We can, and should, vote No on November 7.