Fredericksburg City Beat

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Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Turnout in City Council races

Here’s a look at voter turnout in the last three local elections. This is what happens when nobody runs. A woman I spoke with at the polls yesterday said she didn’t even know there was an election until a neighbor told her.

2006 (ward) – 21 percent

2008 (at-large, mayoral) – 26 percent

2010 (ward) - 6.4 percent (School Board was slightly lower, 6.2 percent)

Precinct-specific turnout:

Ward 1: 1 percent

Ward 2: 5 percent

Ward 3: 10 percent

Ward 4 (New City Fellowship): 9 percent

Ward 4 (VFW Post): 10 percent

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  • George

    Another interesting item to note from yesterday’s election:

    When there is competition, there are few write-in votes. Forgetting Ward 4 for this point, in Ward 3, there were close to 10% of the votes for City Council going to write-in candidates. For the School Board race where there was genuine competition between two qualified candidates, only one write-in vote was cast and that was on an absentee ballot.

    To me, that means that voters hate not having a choice and a bunch of them will create their own choices if not given any.

  • MGWORK (Marty)

    Maybe no one has been at home for the past 5 months, except those who had to stay behind to make a point that apparently turned out to be pointless,

  • Jenna

    Yes, Emily, that is indeed “what happens” and it’s a wonderful thing. “George” nailed it. Confronted with no choice, the community filled the void. That is the beauty of the write-in vote. The one voter you spoke with is representative of all the other citizens that received a call, made a call, walked door-to-door distributing informational flyers, manned the candidates’ tables at the polling places and took the time to vote.

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  • LarryG

    I’m not sure I agree that elections determine what services people want because people vote in a wide variety of ways ranging for picking the best overall (in their mind) to one-issue voters… who use litmus tests for certain things.

    Ultimately – how much the taxes are depend on what services are wanted and just like with schools – ever service has it’s advocates and at the end of day there’s always a much bigger list of services wanted than the ability to fund them.

    This is why I support user-fees combined with taxes especially for services of which the demand varies from “don’t need or want” to strongly want it.

    Only tax and fund for core services that are wanted across the board by everyone and even then need to define the level of service.

    I found the trash pickup issue instructive. I do’t know a lot of private trash companies that would go around to your back yard and get your trash can and return it.

    The reason why is obvious – to do that takes more employees and more equipment – and is more costly.

    I would imagine that different tiers of service – like cable or phone could be offered – for an extra cost – as an alternative to increasing taxes.

    Every service provided by the city should be calculated on a cost per taxpayer basis.

    How much does it cost – per taxpayer to provide trash service ?

    The Virginia State Auditor – by the way collects a lot of data like this (but not quite that granular) and shows costs per capita for most services – AND compares it to other jurisdictions charges.

    I think this KIND of information – provided to voters – helps to inform them and help them make informed decisions about the range and costs of services.

    Many people probably have no idea how much it costs to provide trash service on a per capita basis.

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