I appreciate the efforts of the Mayor and Council to make this election change one step closer to becoming reality. I can also appreciate Councilman Risner's thoughtful opposition.This referendum represents tangible election reform and will be welcomed news to the voters of Culpeper. Here is the story.
The Culpeper Town Council voted Tuesday night to let its voters decide when they want to vote in town elections — in the spring or in the fall.
By an 8-1 decision at its regular meeting, town council moved to put voter referendum on Election Day this November the oft-debated question of whether to change the Town Council election from its current May timetable of every even year to November of every odd year, when presidential elections are not held.
“There seems like overwhelming public support,” to change the election date, said Culpeper Town Councilman Dave Lochridge, a leading voice on council supporting the switch.
If approved by voters this November, the first Culpeper Town Council election held in that month would be in 2015.
Several citizens in recent years, including the president of the electoral board, have advocated for the switch saying a council election coinciding with the general election would save money and resources and increase voter participation.
In the last town council election last May, less than 10 percent of eligible voters participated.
Most recently, former West Coast city councilman Jon Russell formed a grassroots group to push for the election date change. He attended Tuesday night’s meeting in support of council’s decision to put the matter to voter’s referendum.
“I want to thank you for keeping this issue alive,” said Russell, a former Washougal, Wash., City Councilman during Tuesday’s public comment session prior to council voting to do the referendum.
He said after he was happy with the result.
“Just the fact that we got them to do something — that’s huge,” Russell said.
Holding the council election in November as part of the general election would cost half of what it costs to do it in May, according to Mary Dale with the Culpeper Electoral Board. She has sought for years to change the date of the council election in an effort also to maximize the use of election officers.