Who is Del. We­bert rep­re­sent­ing?

Rappahannock News - - EDITORIAL & OPINION -

Front Royal up­dated its town char­ter for bound­aries, “house­keep­ing” de­tails and its elec­tions. Two changes, vet­ted at length by ci­ti­zens and the Front Royal Town Coun­cil, were made to move town elec­tions from May to Novem­ber, and to add the word “only” to “by pe­ti­tion” (to em­pha­size that we want non­par­ti­san lo­cal elec­tions).

Del. Michael We­bert (who also rep­re­sents Rap­pa­han­nock County) filed the char­ter up­date with the Gen­eral As­sem­bly as HB2051. When town coun­cil­man Shae Parker checked the bill on the Gen­eral As­sem­bly web­site, the elec­tion sec­tion was omit­ted en­tirely. Front Royal elec­tions would then de­fault by statute from May to June. The town coun­cil re­peat­edly protested, as did some ci­ti­zens, this un­re­quested and ar­bi­trary change to our up­dated char­ter.

Even­tu­ally, We­bert amended the bill to in­clude a sec­tion which would per­mit elec­tions in Novem­ber but in odd years, claim­ing con­cern for state costs of elec­tions held in pres­i­den­tial elec­tion years. There is no al­tered im­pact on state costs; 75 years of even-num­bered years con­tin­ued into the fu­ture is what Front Royal wants. Then, We­bert added that the ci­ti­zens could get on the lo­cal bal­lot by “party nom­i­na­tion and by pe­ti­tion.” This time he claimed that some con­stituents called want­ing an­other op­tion than “by pe­ti­tion.”

Del­e­gates Todd Gil­bert and Bev­erly Sher­wood weren’t help­ful at all. Of­fi­cials con­tin­ued to write, call and visit in an ef­fort to have the orig­i­nal lan­guage of the bill re­stored. Fi­nally, Front Royal of­fi­cials had no choice but to ask for the bill to be killed in com­mit­tee or re­stored to its orig­i­nal lan­guage. Gil­bert chose to have it killed in com­mit­tee. In ef­fect, ci­ti­zens have been pun­ished by hav­ing to wait un­til 2014, with the changes ef­fec­tive in 2016. Is it le­gal for del­e­gates to change what a legally cre­ated unit of gov­er­nance re­quests for their own char­ter up­date?

LINDA ALLEN

Front Royal

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