My latest op-ed appeared in The Virginian-Pilot Thursday. This is the first of a three-part series on why the move to November for local elections – always a topic of discussion after the low turnout of May elections – is a bad idea. After referencing how we got to May elections in the first place, for this one the topic is money.
I think it takes gall for the legislature to nearly force the localities to hold elections in November – by no longer paying for them – while keeping their own elections safe for the interference of federal issues by holding them in non-federal years. Local elections for Virginia cities are held in even years, with counties in odd years. So pushing localities to November means always having a federal race at the top of the ballot.
So much for local issues being heard.
Local elections in Hampton Roads vary by locality, but include some combination of council members, the mayor, and the school board. Some are at-large, some are by ward, district or borough. It can be difficult to compare elections across boundaries and even across years within the same locality. Nevertheless, I think a look at the most recent city in Hampton Roads to change from May to November is telling.
Just look at what has happened in Portsmouth, where council members are elected at large. In 2010, the last May election held, there were eight candidates vying for three positions. The three winning candidates spent an average of less than $19,000.
In 2012, the first November election, there were five candidates vying for three seats. In that contest, which had the presidential election at the top of the ballot, the winning candidates spent an average of $61,522.
Fewer candidates spending more money. Sounds like Congress.
My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot every week, usually on Thursdays. You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot nor am I paid for my contributions to the paper.Follow @vpaige