By Daniel P. Cortez
With the last hard snow behind us … fingers crossed … incumbents and their ambitious political opponents pound the pavement seeking support. Locally nervous nellies use blog or Facebook posts to sway voters and genuine media who scan the web for the pulse of our community.
Elitist political establishment types using large cash reserves from dubious supporters for direct mail propaganda befuddle marginally informed citizens during this off-year election. In Stafford County, House Speaker Delegate Bill Howell clearly worried about challenger former Supervisor Susan Stimpson has been flooding mailboxes with expensive reelection mailers. Amusing is his repeated, questionable General Assembly claim of, “A balanced budget that does not raise taxes.”
Stafford officials may look at this statement and chortle as they recently voted to approve 16 additional firefighters through a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. Supervisor Bob Thomas indicated his concern over the actions future fiscal impact citing a “million dollar cliff” being examined. Firefighting officials state the desire for the temporary positions to be full time after the two year grant period expires.
Fiscally the majority of the Commonwealth’s blue collar workers would be hard-pressed to say their taxes have gone down, period, as they struggle to make ends meet. Funny how legislators won’t discuss user fees which are a “tax” that keeps going up. Our well-heeled politicians don’t have that problem as a general rule.
And little help came from Howell and the General Assembly directly with both sides bragging of “better days are here” as the majority of independent voters shake our heads. And as the region’s senior delegate and Speaker, he remains at war with Governor Terry McAuliffe, opposing federal aid providing help to Virginia’s large medically uninsured minority and immigrant community.
Hypocritical how Howell remains vociferous against accepting federal aid for our mostly minority and indigent community, but remains silent over a federal grant taken from Virginia’s share of taxable income for firefighters. Increased Stafford taxation is clearly just around the bend, thanks to Howell’s lack of support in an effort to pad an election year flyer.
Stimpson also boasts of sessions without raising taxes and her service to our community, but in fairness where is the verifiable Christian charity shown by both candidates to our oppressed?
Is it wrong to want specificity regarding Howell’s Dominion Leadership Trust fund and his fiscal compassion? Since 2002, 14 million dollars has been donated by taxpayers and businesses to the fund, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. How much has gone directly to help the indigent or the badly needed minority voter in the region by Howell in scholarships, grants, or actions? Still waiting for his campaign to provide such compassionate information. Not hard to understand why the Howell campaign is not forthcoming. Or will the expected response be, “This money is exclusively for candidates.” How compassionate of Howell.
So much for the negative. For those who relish civil war sites and want to attend a function for a genuine servant of the people, there’s a very positive event for Supervisor Jeff Sili of Caroline County on April 11. Sili, the very popular veteran supervisor, is kicking off his reelection campaign at Moss Neck Manor beginning at 9 a.m.
Historians will acknowledge Moss Neck with towering trees, a rolling landscape, and Greek revival antebellum charm as the estate where General Thomas J. Jackson spent the winter of 1862 after the Battle of Fredericksburg. During this event the Commonwealth Hunt from King George will bring horses and hounds for an early morning demonstration of the traditions of Virginia hunting and individual property rights. Ever popular former Virginia Governor George Allen and Congressman Rob Wittman headline the event in support of Sili. Personally, I’m looking forward to the “Hunt Breakfast.”
Sili, one the regions most requested key note speakers for Veterans and Memorial Day programs, is widely embraced by the minority community. His involvements from Wounded Warrior fishing, to contributing time and money with DIVAS (Diverse Individuals Valuing Self and Another) and Caroline’s Promise, which are youth mentoring programs, remain noteworthy. His town hall meetings are standing room only with a racial diversity seldom seen by his Republican colleagues.
When it comes to outreach, Sili and wife Susan set an example for all area politicians by faithfully supporting multicultural events and attending church regularly with the African American community at Mt. Zion Church in lower Caroline. He’s the rare politician who, during the recent hard snow, mounted his tractor and plowed too many neighbors driveways to count. Noted beekeepers, they recently donated hundreds of dollars of home grown honey from Sili’s well-cultivated hives to support the Ruritans.
The independent voter clearly can see the value of supporting in-touch working class local politicians over contentious elitists who largely ignore the grass roots minority community or veterans, and have never gotten their hands dirty.
Yes, the politically worthy and the questionable. For those who choose to vote.
Daniel Cortez, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and award winning writer/broadcaster, is active in veterans and political affairs with an independent voter perspective. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org