Editorial: Town Elections Down to the Wire!

The hotly contested campaigns in the Town of Washington’s municipal elections brought much- needed public debate on all the important issues. Still, there are no clear winners from Election Day this past Tuesday. The vote is that close! The razor-thin margins mean a recount is in order . . . .


Instead, with the exception of the surprise write-in vote for treasurer, we have been treated to an election campaign that has been anything but close and exciting. The better word is boring. Or better yet is no word at all. For how can you even have a campaign when all the candidates have no competitors? No contest. Watching the grass — or kudzu — grow this wet and warm spring is a lot more exciting.

This complaint can easily — and perhaps correctly — be dismissed as typical media bias. It’s in the interest of the publisher to sell newspapers. Drama, conflict and suspense usually translate into voracious reader demand. Thus the Redskins and celebrity divorces, unlike the latter-day politics of the town of Washington, are a reporter’s dream.

Could it be that the lack of a compelling horse race in Washington, with its peace and quiet, means every resident is blissfully happy — and so there is no longer need to express differences of opinions, much less conflict? Indeed, such tranquil living may well be what heaven is all about.

So why then do some local souls seem so disgruntled? “I’d leave this town in a heartbeat if I thought I could sell my house,” at least one grouser has been heard to say. Or this: “The town’s run by its own in-crowd. I’m not part of that crowd, so who cares what I think?”

So-called “in-crowd” rule sounds a lot like one-party governance, but Little Washington is not yet a Little Beijing. Rappahannock County’s courthouse complex is certainly no Tiananmen Square.

Rather, town residents whining about the power structure may simply see themselves as “too cool” to be actively involved — like the hip kids in high school who let the nerds run student government. But another way of saying “cool” is arguably “apathetic” or “lazy.”

Or maybe it’s just the opposite: The “out-crowd” residents are too busy just making a living to get actively involved in the community. They simply don’t have the leisure for time-intensive (and non-lucrative) activities like running for, and holding, elective office.

Who knows? And maybe the newspaper shouldn’t even care? Washington may be the county’s only incorporated town — with the only elected governing body outside the county supervisors — but that doesn’t mean it’s the only town or village worth covering. There’s still plenty of action — more than enough news to fill these pages! — happening in Amissville, Chester Gap, Sperryville, Castleton, Viewtown, Flint Hill . . .

Walter Nicklin