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Look for Santa ‘round the corner, in neighborhoods and towns

Christmas celebrations will be different this year due to the pandemic, but even with restrictions in place communities in and around Mecklenburg County are finding new ways to keep the…

Deaths mount, led by nursing home outbreak

Virus toll at So Bo Health and Rehab rises to 10; 17 lives lost in county

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R/C car enthusiasts take to the hills, creeks and parks of Halifax County

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Duffey receives invite to football camp


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Opinion

Vote for Mark Warner and two amendments

SoVaNow.com / October 21, 2020


Also on the ballot:

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner is expected to have no trouble winning a third term in office against a low-profile challenger, Republican senate candidate Daniel Gade. This nevertheless is a good time is note Warner’s evolution from a successful Virginia governor to a respected voice at the highest levels of national affairs. As ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner was successful in producing a report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election that won support across the aisle — despite the conclusion that the Russian government interfered in our political process and helped Donald Trump win the presidency. The ability to achieve consensus on such a controversial inquiry with conclusions that were sure to be reviled inside the White House marks Warner as something of a unicorn in this fractured, hyper-political age. He figures to win going away on Nov. 3, and deserves to.

Two Constitutional questions are on the ballot: whether to exempt 100% service-related disabled veterans of Virginia from having to pay personal property taxes, and whether to create a 16-member bipartisan commission to redraw Virginia’s election district lines following the 2020 census. On the veterans-related amendment, our recommendation is simple: Vote yes. On the redistricting/reapportionment initiative, our answer is also “yes,” but with reservations.

Redistricting is an inherently political business, one that has given way in recent years to some especially grimy work by lawmakers to choose their constituents rather than the other way around. Amendment 1 will create a 16-member redistricting commission, with four Democratic and four Republican legislators joining eight prominent citizens to draft and vote on redrawn political maps. Ties will be broken by the Virginia Supreme Court.

The chief flaw in the Amendment is that the source of the problem — self-interested politicians — figures prominently into the proposed solution. (If you want to see an “independent panel” of citizens and legislators that has been warped by the priorities of the latter group, we would suggest looking no further than the Virginia Tobacco Commission.) We would have greatly preferred to see a citizen-only commission comprised of members with no obvious agendas or axes to grind. We also would prefer to see a panel whose members represent the diversity of Virginia, rather than the polar axes of party politics in the General Assembly.

Nevertheless, two old sayings hold true here. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And you have to start somewhere. Some day in the distant future, lawmakers may accept the wisdom of removing themselves from political processes in which they have a direct stake. In the present, however, politicians in both parties play redistricting games on and on and on, with the rough-and-tumble never coming to an end. Amendment 1 gives Virginians a chance to step in and enforce some rules for a change. It’s an opportunity voters should take.





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