Greene County residents head to the polls on Tuesday ready to make their voices known; at least we hope so. Four years ago these same seats were on the ballots and Greene residents turned out in high numbers—44.22% of registered voters cast a choice in 2015. That was the highest turnout of the region—beating out much larger locales like Albemarle and the City of Charlottesville. Well, it’s time to do it again.
Local elections are important, we’d argue more important than even voting for president. It’s your local board of supervisors that sets real estate and personal property tax rates. It’s your school board that decides policies for local schools and watching over how the dollars are spent in what amounts to largest budget item for the county. It’s your sheriff who oversees one of the most important services offered in Greene, developing policies and running the budget for the department. It’s your commissioner of revenue who is tasked with making sure residents are taxed correctly and businesses are property licensed and paying appropriate gross receipts taxes. It’s the treasurer who collects the money and watches over investments. It’s the commonwealth’s attorney who operates the office, overseeing assistant attorneys and making sure prosecution of criminals happens correctly in Greene County. And it’s your clerk of court who leads the office in records preservation, as well as keeping circuit court case files, among so much else tasked to that position.
While voting in national elections is important, in our opinion, it’s even more important to get out there for the local elections. This is where each and every vote will count, evidenced in the last local election where a candidate won by only 10 votes.
This hasn’t been the easiest election season to get through, with one candidate being civilly charged half way through by state government officials and another having a civil lawsuit filed by an opponent. Two others running for office are facing charges in circuit court. Innocent until proven guilty must be remembered when people go on social media to ask why they are allowed to continue to run for office.
We have been amazed at what we’d consider libel that has been posted on social media outlets as if free speech is without consequences. It isn’t and it should not be. The nastiness we’ve seen these past few months is not indicative of the county we know and love. We recommend people think long and hard about how they portray their neighbors in these local races in the future or we will wind up without choice come next Election Day. Why would anyone want to subject themselves so such behavior to run for office in the future? What are we teaching those who will be voting in their first election next week?
On Tuesday it’s time to quiet the steady buzz that has vibrated around us for the past half year and focus on who will lead us best into the next decade. And on Wednesday it’s time to be neighbors again.