Respect both sides

To the contrary, in a post-vote conversation, I was told that if I would have voted the way some wanted, those board members would not have had to do so. And like this year, citizens protested these tactics before the vote. They told us they had not had the chance to ponder the results and impacts of the surprise changes to the budget. Yet this year, some of those who celebrated now speak against the same tactics, now that they have been used against them. I believe we cannot stand for one thing on one day and then stand against it the other, unless the change comes from learning new facts. It can’t be ok because my side of the argument is right. The other side cares, and is intelligent too.

The greater problem in Fluvanna is not that the school was built too big, or that some tax payers want cuts too deep, there are truths on both sides. It’s that each side believes they need to “get it while they can”, words I heard in a board meeting last year, and that the other side just isn’t educated enough. The problem in getting it while you can is that there are two sides to the argument, and they both include intelligent people who pay taxes maybe have children and have a say. If you get it all today, enjoy it, because you will lose it tomorrow, and that goes for both sides. Democratic history, both in Fluvanna and nationwide, has proven this time and time again. Under great protest the new high school was approved with very few cuts to the ultimate vision of some, then the schools ended up paying for much of it after the next election, a huge blow to our educational system. Shock and awe tactics were used in voting for last year’s budget, and then the other side used the same tactics this year. I suspect the “school side” will rally the votes in next year’s election and push a lot of money to the schools and if they do, I will suggest as I did after last year’s vote that they spend it while the can, as the taxpayer side has already shown they own rally caps too. If this ends up true and someone’s children will be out of our system within one or two election cycles, those kids will likely be okay. But if the children are pretty young, that family will see this cycle again. Finally, look at U.S. politics. The 2008 election was the one that would change America, “a referendum on the tactics and beliefs of the Republican party.” It was truly an historic election that had unprecedented power behind it. Yet only two years later, the votes swung back to the Republicans and they said it was something like, “a referendum on the tactics and beliefs of the Democratic party.”

In my opinion the goal of Fluvanna’s leaders at this point, in whatever role or position they are in, needs to be to lead “the sides” to come together, to find a place where most feel they are getting a reasonable portion of what they believe is right and to lead each side to respect not only the beliefs, but cares and concerns of the other side. We will often disagree, while we can still give each other respect. How can Fluvanna’s leaders bring us back together? Are we willing to do what it takes to get the masses, while never everyone, to respect other beliefs and perspectives and work together again? Can we set aside some of our agendas and reach across the aisle in order to create truly sustainable government?

Too much is being lost.

(Chris Fairchild is the CEO of National Filter Service Inc. and a former member of the Board of Supervisors.)

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