This is the last you will see of me on the pages of the Village News for a while. I’ll be taking a leave of absence until at least Nov. 9. As you may have read on page three, I am running for Bermuda District Supervisor. OK, I know I wrote that I would not run just a few weeks ago, but since then things have changed. What I thought was happening out there in our little world of politics is not as it seemed to be. So I had to jump in. And when I say “jump in” that is exactly how it went.
The decision to run was a last minute decision after coaching by some close friends. I formed a small committee on Tuesday of last week, and began collecting signatures. In less than a week, the committee collected almost 250 signatures on petitions just to get on the ballot. On Tuesday we turned them in to Chesterfield’s registrar. Provided there isn’t a problem, we will be off and running.
You won’t miss me, everything runs pretty well without me here anyway. Since there has been a little concern, let me assure you that there is no conflict of interest in a newspaper guy running for public office. Did you know that there are seven former members of the media in Congress today? There were nine in the last Congress and 11 in the 109th Congress.
I understand the way the system works in Chesterfield County and I think somebody has to begin to fix the way democracy works here.
I’ve been chastised by some people (you can imagine who they are) saying that it is unethical for a local newspaper man to run for office. Forget democracy, I don’t have the right? Are you kidding me?
Although I feel I stand on ethically-solid ground, I contacted a journalism ethics advisor at a large newspaper association, who is also a professor at the University of Chicago. I told him when you watch local government as closely as I do, you see the sort of underbelly of the process and the party machinations involved, and you can’t help but want to do something about it – say run for election.
I asked the advisor, just what are the ethics of such a move? He answered that as long as a candidate who also owns a newspaper takes a couple of steps back from the publication during the campaign and subsequent election, there isn’t an ethical issue. It’s all about perception, he said.
The most famous politician in Virginia, Harry F. Byrd, owned the Winchester Star, Harrisonburg Daily News-Record and several other newspapers in the Shenandoah Valley. His family still owns the newspapers to this day.
I am not a Democrat, have not been and never will be. I am an Independent with a capital I, and I have voted for Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The opinions in my column have been related to local issues, not political parties, unless that political party has attempted to use its muscle to push its agenda.
I believe that political parties should not be involved in local politics, just as is mandated for the Chesterfield School Board.
The Village News works hard to present balanced content. Republican Congressman Randy Forbes is a regular contributor, and Tea Party, or at least far right, columnist Robert Owens Ph.D. has a bi-weekly column here.
I want to assure you that I do not a have an agenda other than to represent everyone in the Bermuda district and Chesterfield County. I only want what is best for the community, what makes sense, is equitable and builds a stronger Chesterfield. As I have been painted as anti-business, let me remind the business community that this newspaper cares more about local business than some other media outlets. The Village News has run more business stories than any weekly newspaper in the area – business openings, special anniversaries, accomplishments and so on. We are members of the Chester Business Association (Businessperson of the Year 2009) and the Chesterfield Chamber (Presidents Award 2004.) Does that sound like anti-business to you?
For me, considering a run for District Supervisor is all about equity and the democratic process. I find it disturbing that once someone is elected and becomes the incumbent, they seem to think they have a lifelong right to that office. And some elected officials get aggravated when someone opposes them.
When voters allow for a politician to become imbedded, that politician can be less effective. “Some feel that fear of ‘rocking the boat’ leads to a stagnant political climate, in which it becomes hard to address injustices and create change,” Susan Welch wrote in “Understanding American Government.”
There should be a choice of candidates in every race, no matter who they are or what office they pursue.