In case it escaped your notice, there’s an election scheduled for November 5. We don’t blame you if you’ve been out of touch on this subject. Even dedicated pols might find themselves bored by a campaign season that features empty platforms, absent candidates and geeky legislative reforms.
For instance, who is there to care about in the current U.S. Senate race? Virginia Democrats couldn’t even field a challenger for the 24-year incumbent, Republican John Warner. His independent challengers, lacking the financial backing of a major party, have had a tough time competing with the Senator, a longtime GOP darling.
Incumbency has also given 5th District Congressman Virgil Goode (R-Rocky Mount) extra traction against his Democratic challenger, Charlottesville City Councilor Meredith Richards. Goode enjoys closer relationships with deep-pocketed political action committees [see EXTRA page 9], and his "Aw, shucks" demeanor plays well in the predominately rural 5th District. So far, Richards’ campaign strategy has been to use Goode’s conservatism against him, criticizing his stance on abortion rights and environmental issues.
It could be a good strategy in liberal enclaves like Charlottesville. "I’ll be voting against Virgil Goode," says 41-year-old Pete Manno, flipping through a newspaper at the Blue Moon Diner a couple of weeks before the election. "I’m definitely anti-Goode."
Manno says he will also vote in favor of the two bond amendments on the ballot, which would permit the General Assembly to borrow money for parks and for capital projects on college and university campuses. UVA officials have gone to a lot of trouble to promote the bond referendum, saying that although there’s no real opposition to it, they fear the bond won’t pass simply because voters are unaware of it.
Manno says he’s "a little irritated" by what he calls UVA’s panhandling. "They own half the town, and they’re crying for money?" he says. But the school’s fears may be well-founded. While many of the diner’s Monday-night patrons said they will vote, they also professed unfamiliarity with the candidates or issues on the November 5 ballot.
One patron named Jessi says she’ll vote next Tuesday for "whoever’s strongest on the environment."
"But I don’t know the candidates," the 18-year old says. "Who are they? Tell us about them."
You asked for it. Here is the C-VILLE voter’s guide – all the information you need about what’s at stake on November 5. While we can help you make an informed choice, only you can get your booty off the couch. Stand up, Charlottesville, and cast your ballot. The guide begins on page 12 of this weeks’ C-Ville Weekly.