How times change

From the summer of 2004 through the end of 2009 – with a few breaks – it was my privilege to contribute a regular op-ed column to the Village News. That ended when the care of my aging mother took up so much of my time that I could no longer keep abreast of local issues. I let the column lapse, not certain that anything of mine would again appear in these pages.

Four months ago, exhausted by my duties – other caregivers will surely understand – I turned Mom’s care over to my younger sister. I found work at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival, performing in Hamlet and Comedy of Errors. Thereafter, I accepted a friend’s invitation to spend August on the Oregon coast. After Labor Day, I flew home to Chesterfield and the pursuit of new ventures.

While in Oregon, I was surprised to learn that Mark Fausz had decided to run for the Board of Supervisors. I immediately wrote to tender my help – not in his campaign, but with the newspaper. Knowing Mark to be a man of principle, I realized that campaigning for office would put him in a difficult position. This paper is both his living and his life, and he, Linda, and their children have devoted countless hours to making it a worthy reflection of this community and its values.

Obviously, there was no way that Mark, Linda, or Elliott – or any of their long-term employees – could credibly report on a campaign in which Mark was an active candidate. On the other hand, there was no way that the Village News could ignore a campaign of such importance to this community.

So, I offered my services – as political reporter and editorialist – while Mark took a leave of absence to campaign full-time. Having covered past campaigns for the Village News – and having a lifelong familiarity with Chesterfield politics – I figured I’d be able to get up to speed quickly enough.

When my offer was accepted, I was naturally pleased – but also keenly aware of the delicacy of my new duties.

In covering local elections, I can hardly pretend to strict neutrality. During the years when I wrote my column, I was highly critical of Chesterfield County’s leadership, which I have long believed to be dominated by short-sighted thinkers who – however well-intentioned – are either unable or unwilling to confront the challenges which will define our county’s future.
I still feel that way, and – in my editorial capacity – I plan to say so. More than ever, in these challenging times, Chesterfield needs a change.

At the same time, it’s not impossible for an incumbent to embrace, or even lead, change – if he or she recognizes the emergent challenges which make change necessary. As a teacher and a writer of opinion, I have always believed that people can learn and grow.

Thus, as I begin digging into the personalities and issues in our local campaigns, I’ll do my best to be fair-minded to both incumbents and challengers.

None of which, of course, is to deny my personal opinions and feelings. In the most obvious instance, Mark Fausz is an old friend, and it would be silly to pretend that he will not have my vote on November 8.

That said, I can try my best to do justice to Mrs. Jaeckle as a candidate – and to the readers of the Village News as citizens.

And I will try – doing my best to separate my reporting duties from my editorial ones – and trusting in an intelligent readership to apply a grain of salt whenever necessary.

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