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Letters to the Editor for Thursday, Oct. 29

Letters to the Editor for Thursday, Oct. 29

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An important decision for Virginia's future

On Nov. 3 Virginia voters decide two Yes or No questions to change the state constitution. The first question has been receiving the most attention and requires an understanding of the term "gerrymandering."

Gerrymandering is known as deliberate manipulation of legislative districts to include the votes needed for a candidate's election.

Currently, Virginia's constitution states that the General Assembly and governor are responsible for drawing new election districts every 10 years following the census. Whichever political party hold the GA majority has been able to control voting by the current redistricting process. The process has not been transparent to voters with district lines not revealed until the decision is in. Transparency is written into the Amendment with all meetings open to the public and three hearings in different parts of the commonwealth to receive and consider comments from the public before final approval.

Beginning in 2014, an organized effort to create a constitutional amendment to redesign the redistricting process began well in advance of the next census. OneVirginia2021 was organized as an educational, bipartisan effort to promote the redistricting reform effort. Brian Cannon served as executive director providing detailed information to citizens to better understand the process and communicate with elected officials in support of election reform.

The Constitutional Amendment proposed doesn’t match all the recommendations of OneVirginia2021 but is still the most comprehensive redistricting plan ever passed through the state legislature. If the Amendment passes in November, the legislators can add additional safeguards and improvements to the process.

The proposed Amendment was passed by the General Assembly in 2019 and again by a newly elected GA in 2020. As now written, it identifies a redistricting commission of 8 legislators and 8 citizens. According to OneVirginia2021, the citizen selection will be politically balanced in a process like selecting an impartial jury. No elected members of Congress or the General Assembly or their staff can serve as a citizen member.

In recent months some Democrats have been communicating they will vote "No" because the Redistricting Commission will be composed of only half citizens and so not fully non-partisan. Linda Perriello, a prominent Democrat, has worked with OneVirginia2021 on the amendment and in August posted on Facebook her decision to vote "No." Perriello referred to the Amendment as "half a loaf" since it will require additional legislation to change the Commission from bipartisan to 100% citizen only.

In an email, Charlottesville Delegate Sally Hudson writes, “I know a lot of folks are weighing this decision, as they should. I support Amendment One. It's a critical step forward for Virginia, ensuring citizen participation and essential transparency in redistricting for the very first time.”

Others that now say "No" include two recent Democratic candidates, Angela Lynn and Jennifer Lewis, who created a Facebook Live message to state their opposition. Lewis considers out of state money as suspect. Redistricting is a national effort promoted by Eric Holder and former President Barak Obama with nine states other than Virginia described at https://www.allontheline.org/.

Albemarle Democratic Committee Secretary Michael Rodemeyer stated the organization has "No official position on Amendment One." Rodemeyer also is chairman of Blue Ridge Action Group which supports the Amendment.

Brian Cannon began FairMapsVirginia in July 2020 for the Vote Yes campaign outreach as part of the bipartisan OneVirginia2021 mission. Cannon notes that Fair DistrictsVA was then created in August by Democratic Party opponents and information provided at voting places may confuse voters.

Nelson County Democratic Chair Larry Stopper, an Afton resident, identified a personal reason for his “No” vote was based on lack of faith that state Republicans will follow the “spirit” of the amendment. Stopper believes the amendment will not be successful due to partisan concerns.

While the full text of the proposed amendment in not on the ballot question it is available for voters to review to clarify understanding at https://www.elections.virginia.gov/proposed-constitutional-amendment-2020/ A Yes vote will make a bipartisan commission responsible for the initial drawing of election districts. A No vote will leave the sole responsibility for drawing the districts with the General Assembly and the governor.

MARY S. CUNNINGHAM,

Afton

Democracy is a choice to use or lose 

It’s Oct. 28 and next week the nation votes. Again, we reaffirm our democracy, but it took a long time to get here and the journey is still ongoing. Recently, Mike Lee of Utah said we are not a democracy and in a certain context he is right. There is no right to vote in the original Constitution; voting is only mentioned in the amendments passed after the Civil War.

Throughout our history the right to vote has advanced, first to all white males, then to women and finally to Black citizens. But we are still very far from one person, one vote. There are the repeated attempts by Republicans to suppress the vote because of what they say is voter fraud. This reason is a lie, plain and simple.

A more likely explanation is they understand it is the only way they can win and have won in recent years. Then there is the distortion of the Electoral College that puts the 40 million people of California on the same footing as the 600,000 people of Wyoming and causes Trump and Biden to only campaign in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and a few other states. And lastly, there is our famous voter apathy.

Generally, a little over 60% vote in a presidential election and when a little over 50% voted in the 2018 congressional election it set a record. In Australia, citizens are required to vote by law. I imagine that would go over with the "don’t tread on me crowd" about as well as a mask mandate. Democracy is a choice we have made and one we have to keep on making. So, use it or lose it folks. Vote. It’s the best way to make your voice heard. 

LOUIS HARPSTER, 

Shipman

Past time for national mask mandate 

During the debate this past week we learned that the president’s sense of direction is about 90 degrees off. He said we were "turning the corner" on the virus. To me it looks like we’re going over the cliff. Saturday the U.S. had its second day in a row of over 83,000 new cases of the virus.

Once again I’d like to point out that China managed to so control the virus in its originating country that the total cases experienced by a population 4 times ours has been less than 92,000. Our total number of deaths is now over 225,000. And which country is supposed to be the world’s leader; billions across the planet are re-evaluating this every day.

And we aren’t looking good. It is the opposite of great; it’s pitiful, pathetic, and it is downright painful to see how far we’ve fallen in four years. And today the Trump administration admitted defeat; the losers weren’t going to try to control the viral spread. They are going to let Americans die while they go golfing. Anyone who still thinks Donald Trump is making us a great country in any way is either blind or a fool.

This week I disagreed with Dr. Fauci who said it “might” be time for a nationwide mask mandate. Doc, it is way past time for a mask mandate. Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries on the planet with a population 1/3 of ours, reported only 629 new cases on Saturday. There one can go to jail for two years for not wearing a mask and/or other activities that can spread the virus. They have limited hospital capacity and recognize that. Americans seem to be too slow to recognize that limits exist here also.

I hope the Biden administration and more a responsible Congress pass such a law as soon as they are sworn in. It is unlawful to defecate or urinate in public places and you shouldn’t be allowed to spread the dangerous virus into the public air either.

We can do better and if it takes some of their money and/or time to help some of the citizenry recognize that they are part of this country, so be it. 

MIKE TABONY, 

Gladstone 

Better off than four years ago? 

The president, and his enablers in Congress have squandered American influence and prestige throughout the world, making the world far less safe than when he took office: The whole world has watched as this president has:

  • alienated our allies and friends,
  • coddled our adversaries,
  • rejected the evidence and advice of the US intelligence services,
  • created havoc and endangered American interest throughout the world,
  • encouraged dictators and anti-democratic autocrats,
  • created a national debt burden that has already weakened our ability to defend our interest and invest in our future, and
  • cynically divided our country for his own venal purposes.

A great nation is being brought to its knees and our adversaries are watching. We are less safe, and the world is a more dangerous place than before this president took office.

Are we better off today, then we were four years ago? Not on your life.

STANLEY MILESKY,

Nellysford 

Time for the American people to rise up

This 2020 election is not an election of competing liberal and conservative views, nor of competing political opinions. It is an election intended to attempt to replace the government, of, by and for the people with an oligarchy to rule over the American people.

The moment has come that we, the American people, must decide if the nation created by our founders will live or die. In preparation for this day the Washington Elite have created riots in the streets of Democrat-governed states and cities, used the complimenting political power of the social media platforms and the press, caused monuments to our heritage to be destroyed and instructed wealthy individuals and corporations to make massive contributions to Democrat candidates.

One must compliment the as yet unidentified cabal regarding their ability to place such a threat before the American people. This day has been a long time coming. It began with Woodrow Wilson followed by Franklin Roosevelt who laid the three underlying pieces in place; restructuring the purpose of the House and Senate and removing the Constitutional constraints on the federal government imposed by the “Enumerated Powers”.

The only question is: will the American people rise to the challenge and defend their heritage? It is clear that this election is a battle between the American people led by President Trump and the unidentified cabal for power.,

BOB DEWEY

Wintergreen

Good fell short of the mark in crucial area 

Bob Good, the Republican candidate in the 5th Congressional District, has landed in ethical – and potentially legal – hot water for failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial investments over a multi-year period.

According to recent news reports, Mr. Good failed to disclose any assets in ethics forms dating back to 2016. But after facing questions about the forms’ accuracy and completeness, Mr. Good abruptly made an about-face and disclosed owning stock in dozens of companies worth up to $1.8 million. Even more troubling, Mr. Good disclosed owning stock in two companies, Abbott Laboratories and McKesson, that had business before Campbell County when he was a county supervisor.

Financial disclosure requirements are one of the most important tools for keeping elected officials honest and transparent. Virginia’s Conflict of Interests Act recognizes that our system of democratic self-government is dependent upon “citizens maintaining the highest trust in their public officers and employees.” Requiring public officials to accurately and fully disclose their financial interests, and to abstain from voting on matters where they have a financial stake, helps ensure their decisions are made for the public good, rather than self-interest.

In response, Mr. Good’s campaign has asserted he did not engage in day-to-day management of his investments and was unaware what he owned. This explanation doesn’t pass the smell test. Does Mr. Good – a former corporate banker who has cited his financial acumen in campaign materials – seriously expect voters to believe that he never checked his retirement accounts? How many people forget that they own hundreds of thousands of dollars of stock?

Public office is a public trust. Regardless of party, we all should expect elected officials and candidates uphold the highest ethical standards to make sure they are working for us, not themselves.

The author is an Associate Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he teaches election law and voting rights. This letter represents his own personal opinions, not the views of his employer.

CHRISTOPHER SEAMAN, 

Crozet 

Vote for the GOP ticket on Nov. 3

As Election Day quickly approaches we all need to be reminded of all that is at stake. This election is more than just Republican vs. Democrat but a battle of Good vs. Evil.

What is truly at stake are issues not just social but Biblical. Our country was founded as "One Nation Under God," and our country’s motto is "In God We Trust."

We as a country, and even a community, declare our trust in God for he is the Almighty leader of leaders and his Holy Word is the very foundation of our Constitution in which it would be invalid without.

Like our founding fathers did over 244 years ago, I ask you, my fellow American patriots, to do as they did and that is to trust in God and vote according to His Word!

Please, on Nov. 3, I ask you to vote for Donald Trump for president, Daniel Gade for U.S. Senate and Bob Good for Congress these men will defend and fight for God, country, state and community. 

BRADLEY DRISKILL,

Spout Spring 

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