I’ve knocked on thousands of doors in Mason District during campaigns, and am amazed, and disappointed, when people tell me their vote “doesn’t really matter.” Voting always matters, and the November election results in Virginia are textbook examples of why that’s true. At least three delegate races were decided by less than a hundred vote difference and, in the most heart-stopping case, a 10-vote margin ended in a tie between the incumbent Republican delegate and his Democratic challenger. Under Virginia’s arcane rules, the winner is decided by lot. So, instead of a clear majority of voters deciding, the winner will be determined by chance.
In this case, control of the Virginia House of Delegates also will be decided by that chance drawing, since the significant pick up of 15 seats by Democrats on November 7 means that the political split is 51-49, unless the film canister with Democrat Shelly Simond’s name is drawn, which will force House leadership to be shared, 50/50. That’s a big deal, and a tribute to those citizens who did vote. Whether at the local, state, or federal level, your vote does matter. While individual candidates may be winners or losers, it’s the community and the nation that suffers most when voters don’t care enough to cast a ballot.
If you’re making New Year’s resolutions, educating yourself about issues and pledging to vote should be at the top of your list. Here are some other resolutions (a bit preachy perhaps) for your consideration. Most are based on complaints my office receives all year long: traffic and speeding in residential neighborhoods.
Come to a complete stop at STOP signs. Complete stop means forward motion of the vehicle ceases, and the tires stop. Hesitating at a STOP sign, or rolling through at low speed, is a violation.
At signalized intersections, stop your vehicle AT the stop bar (painted white line on the pavement). The light may run a longer cycle when sensors cannot detect a vehicle whose tires do not reach the stop bar, or roll past it.
Red light runners are a scourge in our region. A yellow signal means the light is about to change to red, and you should prepare to stop, not speed up, or try to slide through the red. People can get killed that way.
Most neighborhood streets have a 25 MPH speed limit. People just like you live there, so be neighborly, and drive like you would want others to drive past your house.
Park on the correct side of the street – that means right wheels (passenger side) to the curb. Parking the “wrong” way on the street can get you a ticket. It’s the law! Why?
When you park the “wrong” way, you are travelling the “wrong” way in a travel lane, which can lead to head-on collisions for unsuspecting drivers headed the “right” way.
Move out of the way for emergency vehicles, especially fire apparatus. They are big vehicles and need more space to traverse busy roadways with lights and siren. Move to the right, if possible, and stop until the emergency vehicles pass. You might not make it through the next traffic signal, but imagine if your house was on fire, or you were in the ambulance. You’d want folks to get out of the way, wouldn’t you?
A little thoughtfulness can go a long way to making it truly a Happy New Year!!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.