Monday, June 21, 2010

Staggered Terms in Augusta County Moves to Public Input.

The issue of staggered terms was first proposed by Supervisor Tracy Pyles from the Pastures District of Augusta County. Currently, the supervisors serve a 4 year term, this wouldn't change. The only thing that would change is instead of the whole board being elected every four years, only half would be elected every two years. This is a great idea because it would make the supervisors more accountable to the public every 2 years instead of every 4.

Today, during the Augusta County Board of Supervisors Work Session Meeting, the board placed the issue of staggered terms on the Agenda for its public meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 23 at 7:00pm at the Government Center in Verona. Please plan to come and take part in the public input on this issue.

The general consensus is if the public doesn't come out to support this measure than the issue will die and the whole board will be elected at once every four years, locking out the citizens of Augusta from influencing its board in 4 year intervals. Below is rundown of their remarks or watch the Video Part One, Part Two.

Supervisor Tracy Pyles, Pastures District. Mr. Pyles was the supervisor to bring up this issue and ask that the change be made to the election process for the Board of Supervisors in Augusta County. His reasoning from the start has been to allow the citizens of Augusta a more frequent influence on the board, meaning an election of half the board every 2 years rather than the whole board every 4 years. Mr. Pyles is in favor of the change.

Supervisor Larry Howdyshell, North River District. Mr. Howdyshell stated that at first he was in favor of allowing the citizens a more frequent influence on the board, then changed his mind. His quote was, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it." To that I would ask, just because it isn't broke, doesn't mean that you can't make it better. There are some that would say that the Representation on the Board of Supervisors here in Augusta is broken. Mr. Howdyshell is against the change.

Supervisor Jeremy Shifflett, Beverley Manor District. Mr. Shifflett took a pass on this issue stating that there are good things and bad things about it. He said there should be public input. I was hoping for something more from my representative on the board. This issue has been discussed and considered by the board for more than two months, now he wants public input. I certainly haven't heard of any public meetings in the past couple months to discuss this, I would have gone. Mr. Shifflett took a pass.

Supervisor Nancy Sorrells, Riverheads District. Mrs. Sorrells stated the change would be good because institutional memory of the board would be better maintained. However, she backtracked saying that half the board would be up for election during the Real Estate Assessment Process. I think this is a good thing. She also stated that the board would become more political if the elections were more frequent. Mrs. Sorrells went on to say that she would be in favor if the Real Estate Assessment process was done on a different year and that it not happen in 2011 because redistricting of the county takes place in 2011. I hope she remembered that the whole board is up for election in 2011 anyway, making her statement about the redistricting a mute point. Mrs. Sorrells is against the change, at least right now.

Supervisor David Beyeler, South River District. Mr. Beyeler echoed the sentiments of Mr. Howdyshell. He stated if it isn't broke don't fix it. He stated, in his 22.5 years on the board, nothing is broke. To which I say, its broke. He also went on to say that if a supervisor isn't getting input from their district except for during an election year, than something is wrong. I agree with Mr. Beyeler, but I believe he misses the point. The citizens are giving input, the board members are just not listening, an election solves that problem. Mr. Beyeler is against the change.

Supervisor Wendell Coleman, Wayne District. Mr. Coleman echoed the sentiments of Mr. Howdyshell and Mr. Beyeler. He stated this current process isn't broke so don't fix it. He then went on to slam the Staunton and Waynesboro City Councils for their staggered term processes, basically saying that nothing gets done. He ended his remarks by saying, "just leave it alone." Mr. Coleman is against the change.

Chairman Gerald Garber, Middle River District. Mr. Garber stated he didn't want the issue brought up during the public meeting. However, Mr. Pyles asked it be put on the Wednesday Public Meeting agenda. Though Mr. Garber stated he didn't want it brought up at the Public Meeting he didn't give any clear opinion one way or the other.

It looks like if a vote was taken now there would be 1 in favor, 4 against, 1 who would rather not say, and 1 who has no idea.

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