Editorial: Citizen(s) of the Year

Last year, for the first time in almost a half century, the newspaper did not confer the title “Citizen of the Year” upon any Rappahannock resident. It was just too hard. There were so many well-deserving candidates that a clear, unequivocal decision could not be readily reached by the beginning of the new year.

That is not to suggest this year was any easier. To the contrary, the candidates were even more numerous. So we “cheated.” We took part of the decision-making burden off our own editorial shoulders and asked Rappahannock News readers to participate in the process.

From a small story published in the newspaper in early December, the response was staggering and unexpected – overwhelming our inboxes with emailed nominations, not to mention phone calls and traditional letters.

By far – by a factor of at least 100 – the two candidates ultimately selected received the most “votes.”  And they were somewhat equally divided, so the obvious decision presented itself to share the honors between the man and the woman whom the newspaper profiles this week.

Other strong candidates – whom the newspaper feels obliged to mention – included Cliff Miller, Mike Leake, Cole Johnson, Liz Blubaugh, Mimi Forbes, Connie Smith and Aldridge Boone.

In contrast to these worthy contenders, what made the eventual winners stand out, besides the overwhelming grassroots support, was the perhaps paradoxical fact that they were not initially what would be called “obvious” candidates – seldom in the news and not vested with high-profile, public positions.

Rather, they reveal the rich, multi-layered nature of our truly remarkable Rappahannock community, and the positive influence that just a couple of committed individuals can have for the benefit of us all. We are lucky and thankful to be so touched.

Walter Nicklin