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March 27, 2018 · OPINION

Council candidates should present realistic ideas

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
By Ted Greener

The adage that all politics are local seems to be rearing its head in Fauquier County, as the vitriol seen in national politics is unfortunately abound here at home. From warring words within the county’s Republican committee to restraining orders and defamation suits in the Warrenton Town Council race, the corrosive element of elections seems like it is here to stay.

Yet, when it comes to the council election on May 1, Warrenton residents should demand better and encourage real discourse on issues confronting the town. The election serves as an opportunity for candidates to present a coherent vision for the future of the town and allows candidates and voters alike to discuss realistic pieces of public policy that could be promulgated by the town council. At the core of this is a need to separate the dreamers from the realists, reality from fiction.

This first and foremost means embracing qualities that make this town so livable, the small town feel that the clear majority of residents prefer, particularly mine, which moved from bustling Washington, D.C., in 2016. We should not “fix” what is not broken, nor should we elect individuals who will make promises they cannot keep. While the ambitions of a 19-year-old are always impressive in stature, these ideas often lack the ability to be implemented.

Acknowledging that this town is an ideal place to live and raise a family – that it is better off being structurally different than its peers to the north and east – should be the first litmus test of someone seeking to represent its citizens.

Next, candidates must focus squarely on achievable, incremental progress. The council, like any form of government, is not a panacea for desired results. Action – where it is appropriate – is best fostered by residents of this town and those invested in the future of Warrenton. The council can assist by maintaining or enacting policies that create an environment most conducive to a healthy local economy – such as forgoing crushing increases in business taxes or fixing the parking problem – but it cannot in and of itself mold the town to everyone’s liking.

Instead, candidates should address three foundational issues: helping those in need – particularly those affected by the opioid epidemic – increasing economic opportunity and devising a plan to best realize the natural resources bestowed upon the region.

Development, the issue that arguably galvanizes voters most of all, belies all three issues. We cannot help the underprivileged, spur commerce or enjoy things like our local wine or produce without dedicated structures and areas to do so. What is the comprehensive plan for the town and can policymakers forge new paths, such as the privately financed pregnancy center this town needed? Surely, in an area with considerable wealth, we ought to be able to help others and simultaneously enhance opportunity.

To do so, candidates must end the vain charade of pitting development in dichotomous, black and white terms whereby we can only be rural or we become Gainesville.

For instance, Keith Macdonald – a man who maintains highly visible eyesores yet finds it fitting to recommend development plans for the town – would have you believe that development on Walker Drive is antithetical to a vibrant downtown. Yet the businesses most fitting for Walker are different than those of Main Street, and the two can coexist. In fact, increased population volume in either area, if done intelligently, is a net positive for the town, its businesses and potential newcomers.

Candidates and elections matter and affect residents who officials ultimately represent. We should all hope that those seeking to represent us are willing to solve the issues we face in a responsible manner.

A town resident, the writer is the public affairs director for a national trade association. He has nearly a decade of experience in advocacy efforts related to federal, state and local public policy.
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martinkus · April 4, 2018 at 1:06 pm
Let's go "Sunny"! I remember her first campaign and how she said she would fill every empty store front in Warrenton if elected. How did that work out "Sunny"? Here comes round two!

Jim Griffin · April 3, 2018 at 9:32 pm
Thank you, Carter. Lincoln put it well: If two people here agree, we don't need one of them.

I see the good: Facebook offers a strong effort to wring out anonymity. I am not entirely adverse to anonymous comment on general issues, but personal charges and ad hominem attacks should not come from the shadows, from under hoods, from those unwilling to stand the scrutiny under which they put others.

Facebook wants more from me than I am willing to give. I see potential value there, but the drawbacks outweigh the potential good right now.

I applaud you for your public service and wish you well in the election. Thanks for the kind words.
Carter Nevill · March 31, 2018 at 6:24 pm
And, I would like to thank you, Mr. Griffin, for your posts to this forum. Your posts, whether I agree with them or not, are always relevant to the article and firmly rooted in reason and backed by evidence. I appreciate your contribution, as I am sure do others.
Carter Nevill · March 31, 2018 at 6:12 pm
I completely agree that Facebook is not the ideal choice for a forum based on recent revelations about data harvesting and wholesaling of personal information. I too have grown increasingly leery of it, but it does remain a valuable and indispensable tool for small businesses. And, in situations like this, it presents an accessible public forum space that can be used to the advantage of the community. We are feeling our way through this, and I am still an advocate and, perhaps naive, believer in the potential of the electronic frontier. Facebook for profit is an imminent threat and vulnerability, but I hope we coalesce around and create something that effectively connects communities on both the micro and macro levels, and expands the boundaries of free expression and inquiry.

Maybe we can defeat Russian bots by boring them to death as they harvest data about pedestrian safety and retail vacancies in a rural community.
Jim Griffin · March 31, 2018 at 9:59 am
Facebook forums are an unfortunate choice. I for one do not trust Facebook and will not establish an account there; Seems many others are leaving due to recent revelations about the site, which will surely harvest whatever data can be gleaned from any discussion there.
Carter Nevill · March 30, 2018 at 10:55 pm
In response to this article, Tyler Ross has created a Facebook forum for the community to engage the candidates and hear them in their own words. I encourage everyone to visit this site and learn from the candidates themselves. Let this be an election guided by issues and substance, and not one tainted by the innuendo of the comments section.
sshrader · March 28, 2018 at 2:23 pm
I am not agreeing with TooTrue but I can see how he/she may think that Carter Neville is a bit self serving. The Fauquier Now article on Feb 5 quoted him as saying: “My first and foremost responsibility is to make sure our business (Carter & Spence) succeeds,” Mr. Nevill said. “The role of mayor provided a better fit for me to serve as the public face of our business.” Carter is honest about what his top priority is, that does not make him a bad candidate. As long he approaches the role as more than just advertisement for his company, with the intent to do what is best for the town (and its residents) and therefore his business, he stands to do well by all.
I do not live in the town limits so I have no vote but, as a Fauquier resident and frequenter of the town, I very much hope for the most effective town council. I appreciate Ted Greener's letter and I hope that the town voters research the candidates and choose carefully. And, once elected, I too hope that the new members will "focus squarely on achievable, incremental progress".
Jim Griffin · March 28, 2018 at 11:52 am
Birds of feather includes you and your anonymous pals. Quite the contrary to your suggestion, I want to hear your claims and evaluate them in the light of day. It is you who chooses to hide in the shadows.

Again, as they say, if it appears "too" true, it probably isn't.

P.S. Tony Tedeschi contributes a great deal to this community in ways both obvious and less well-known. He is, for example, among the first to step up and give to the schools and students. This is reality; The inference he shares common ground with ex-Governor McDonnell is absurd.
TooTrue · March 28, 2018 at 9:40 am
Ah, Jim Griffin, same old tune. Tell your buddy at Fauquier Now to do away with the feature and require signed letters as real papers. However, don't expect honest information when having to deal with the likes of Toni Tedeschi. Ignore reality at your own peril. Bob McDonald didn't think he'd get caught or go to jail either. Birds of a feather often stick together. Good old boys trying to continue feathering their nests.
Jim Griffin · March 28, 2018 at 6:09 am
Agreed with Tony Tedeschi (Facebook comments): Snipers unwelcome, especially personal, unproven allegations. Step to the firing range proudly, properly identified or stay home.

I know neither candidate. Declaring someone self-serving or corrupt cries out for proof and is a test of character. Neither is properly addressed via sniping.

As they say, if it appears "too" true it probably isn't.
martinkus · March 27, 2018 at 1:23 pm
Oh yes, "Sunny"! I remember her first campaign and how she said she would fill every empty store front in Warrenton if elected. How did that work out "Sunny"?

Agree with TooTrue - there are other, better, choices!
TooTrue · March 27, 2018 at 11:56 am
There are some real prizes in this round. Fortunately some good choices also exist to get away from the self serving and corrupt. Anyone but Sunny Reynolds whom is known to be bought and paid for along with the self-serving Carter Neville are to be avoided.
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