Thank you, Rappahannock News, for recently publishing a letter from John Sullivan, mayor of Washington, defending his town’s status given the dwindling population and ongoing business preferences. I wish he had granted you access for an actual article, as he afforded The Washington Post, one that might have posed serious questions and received honest answers in his hometown newspaper.
As an examination of the mayor’s letter shows, he’s largely mistaking shared housing for affordable housing and overlooking its importance for families with children. Real estate transactions and beautification projects are cloaked as “town” growth. He continues to ignore the trend of turning residences into businesses. Attention is shifted instead to creating a divide between “townies” and “outsiders” in stark contrast to the statements from the [Rappahannock News] forum in the summer, when he and Washington Town Council members encouraged participation of county residents in the affairs of their county seat. (Perhaps he didn’t like what we had to say.) Perhaps worst of all, no one has addressed how many “big changes for Little Washington” were withheld until after the town elections in May, possibly to avoid inspiring any opposition.
Yes, Walter Nicklin, publisher of the Rappahannock News, you too fail to mention that fact in a recent editorial page essay, which, in parting, speculated why there are no candidates representing opposing interests on the upcoming ballots. Do I really have to point out that there were no open town council or board of supervisors seats on the ballot this past Nov. 4?
These challenges of growth, transparency and charter annulment will no doubt shape the next round of town and county elections. The dismissive treatment they’re receiving should only heighten the public’s awareness — and not in the fearful manner Mr. Nicklin suggests, but in the empowering vote we enjoy as a democracy. Washington and Rappahannock County deserve so much better; they just have to wait a bit longer for the ballot.
Editor’s note: Since this letter was submitted, Washington Town Councilman Dan Spethmann has resigned. After appointment of his replacement by the council, expected within a month or two, a circuit court judge will decide when a special election will be held to fill the seat through the position’s term, which ends in 2018.