Council To Discuss Extending Our Own Terms of Office
Are you paying attention? You better be.
At 4pm today, Lynchburg City Council is going to enter a discussion on whether or not our elections should coincide with federal campaign cycles. As it stands right now, due to legislation passed in Richmond earlier this year, the next election for City Council (At-Large seats) would be November of 2022 instead of May.
One of the two options staff has prepared for us to consider in our meeting adjusts that election from 2022 to 2023 and the Ward elections (myself included) from 2024 to 2025. If this option is adopted, it would result in Council voting themselves an entire additional year to their term. Read it again, but written differently: by a majority vote, our City Council could grant themselves another 365 days in office. Somehow, yes, to my amazement, I am being told it is legal.
To make matters worse, State Code does not require a Public Hearing for such a vote.
Our City is facing a multitude of issues that need to be addressed - generational poverty, high violent crime rates, lowest graduation rates in our region, aging infrastructure, understaffed and overtaxed public safety departments, workforce shortages for businesses, inflation, higher taxes, and more.
Yet, with all of these issues, this is how your elected representatives are spending your work session - debating which November would Council rather be elected in.
I am unequivocally, completely, wholeheartedly opposed to this proposal, or any proposal that would extend terms of office for myself as well as for my colleagues. It is unconscionable that somehow this, yes, this is how we are spending our time in City Hall "serving you."
Let me be very clear – it would be a most egregious offense for an elected official, of any capacity, to have the authority to and follow through with a vote to extend their own term in office. Just because something is legal does not mean it is the right course of action. Regardless of the justifications that may be offered for this proposal at our upcoming meeting, and even if there would be some wisdom associated with said argument, this would set a dangerous precedent in Lynchburg. No philosophical justification should move a body like ours to such a vote as it is a subject of an incumbent's personal preference dictating their own re-election as representatives of a community. It is wrong, unjust, and unethical, and I don't buy the legality of it all.
While I have been assured no vote will be taken today, should there be a majority of Council insisting on moving our elections, I commit to not to simply throw my hands in the air and say "no" but will strive to offer solutions that facilitate community discussion, referendums, associated elections, and any other avenue by which you are ultimately empowered, the voter and citizen of Lynchburg.
What can you do:
Pray for our City and wisdom for our leaders.
Share your thoughts directly with me at https://www.chrisfaraldi.com/councilelections
Email Council your thoughts to all of us on Council at City_Council@LynchburgVA.gov.
Tune in at 4pm and watch our discussion on the City of Lynchburg, Virginia Government Facebook page.
Chris Faraldi, M.A.
Ward IV Representative
Lynchburg City Council