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More election stuff

I think I’ll stay on this local election thing today. While there are lots of small issues, I think there’s really just one big one about which voters should be concerned.

The choice before Suffolkians in May is sort of a microcosm of the big issue that is facing us as a nation.

Do we want this big, activist government that has its hand in everything from developing hotels, golf courses, subdivisions and entire communities on the local level to promoting lifestyle choices, huge spending and illegally tapping our phones and computers on the national level?

I’m not trying to say whether this is good or bad, just laying out the choice. If this is what you want, you need to support incumbents locally in May and nationally in November.

There’s no denying the progress and development success Suffolk has made in the past five years. It’s incredible and the envy of other communities. It’s a much nicer place to live than it was as recently as 2000. But that progress did not come without a cost n in real estate taxes we are paying and in some sacrifice when it comes to personal property rights.

The incumbents up for election n all four of them n have pretty much hitched their wagon to the plan, just as the president has hitched his to the outcome in Iraq. They have provided a dependable majority vote on every initiative associated with this that has come down the pike. If you are satisfied with the way things are in Suffolk and the way they are progressing and want things to continue in that direction, then they deserve your vote.

The current Congress has given the President carte blanche in dealing and spending on the war in Iraq. If you are satisfied with what is going on in Iraq, the incumbent Congressfolk deserve your vote.

If, on the other hand, you think they are too high, then you should support their challengers. It’s that simple.

At the taping of Andy Damiani’s Roundtable Talk on Wednesday at which he interviewed all the candidates except Charles Brown (It will air in two parts over the month of April), Both Mayor Bobby Ralph and Councilman Calvin Jones, mentioned the city’s “goals and objectives.” These are what Council comes up with every fall when they go on their retreat and they have been basically unchanged since 2000 n better schools, better quality of life, economic development, downtown and village development and so on.

With the budget process ongoing and the debate over the tax rate, you’re going to be hearing about these goals and objectives a lot over the course of the next month. It will be argued that any substantial tax rate reduction is going to negatively impact the city achieving its goals and objectives. That’s been the basis of the argument every year against giving citizens too much real estate tax relief and the Council has faithfully supported this contention. There’s every reason to expect them to do so again. Failure to do so could justifiably be seen as hypocritical in an election year.

The argument will be that if you vote to throw the incumbents out, you may end up paying less in taxes, but progress will be retarded.

At least we know where they stand. Informed voters should demand to know where the challengers stand.

I don’t know the answer. While most of us are inclined toward the concept of small, inobtrusive government and low taxes, I think it’s mostly a romantic notion. We have to face the reality that there are things government can do better than the private sector n providing affordable health care and stimulating economic development among them. One need look no further than the Virginia House of Delegates n a laughingstock where nothing gets done n to see the failure and futility of this philosophy. Without a mature, adult Senate and Governor to provide checks and balances, they would send the entire state down the drain in a single session. By the same token, without the House and its anti-tax philosophy, the Senate and Governor could well tax us into the poor house.

The correct answer, as is usually the case, is probably somewhere in between the extremes.

That of course, is the main argument in favor of a powerful, elected executive, to provide a check and balance on the Council. It doesn’t exist at the moment.