This Week, 1/16

Nearly four weeks in, the federal government remains at a standstill over the president’s maniacal demand for $5.7 billion in American taxpayers’ dollars to erect a giant wall.

But local government, at least, is raring to go. “Eighty percent of what we do is not a Republican or Democratic issue,” Republican Delegate Steve Landes tells us. “It’s what the government should do.” For Landes, that includes funding early childhood education and improvements to I-81. Let’s hope “what government should do” also includes making it easier for citizens to exercise their right to vote. As we reported in November, Virginia is the second-hardest-place-to-vote in the U.S. (thanks, Mississippi!).

With an almost evenly divided House, a new Democratic minority leader, and an election looming on the horizon, political analyst Stephen Farnsworth tells us a basic voting reform like no-excuse absentee ballots may have a chance. We won’t hold
our breath for Governor Ralph Northam’s package of common-sense gun control measures (Only one handgun purchase a month? Let’s not get crazy.).

Here in Charlottesville, five residents have already announced their intention to run for City Council, and that’s not including Don Gathers, former chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces, who is hoping
complications from a heart attack clear up in time for him to make the March filing deadline. Current councilors Wes Bellamy, Kathy Galvin, and Mike Signer haven’t yet said whether they’ll be running for re-election. Bellamy, at least, will likely continue
to be in the spotlight either way, as he promotes his new book revealing his take on the last two years.

With candidates talking about affordable housing, making the city carbon neutral, and addressing the “pipeline to prison,” the election season is sure to bring up some worthwhile debate. Let the games begin.Laura Longhine