Editor: This past month, we saw real democracy exercised in Kansas.
Conservative elected officials felt they had a “moral mandate” to change the Kansas Constitution to allow them to make abortion illegal. The people of Kansas had an opportunity to express their views at the ballot box, and rejected the proposal.
Today, we are faced with a similar situation here in Arlington, but it is Arlington’s County Board members that are imposing their “moral mandate” to eliminate single-family zoning in Arlington.
Most Arlington residents oppose the specific solution being considered, even in the county government’s own survey.
Our elected officials continually say that, regardless of what constituents say or want, they the elected leaders know what is best for us, and it is the community’s “moral duty” to act to end single-family zoning. These are the exact same words and actions that the conservative Kansas elected officials said before their residents used the power of the ballot box to defy their thinking.
The people of Kansas got to exercise their freedom to vote – in Arlington, we will not.
In Virginia, residents cannot petition to place this issue on the ballot, but the County Board could do so on its own. However, they have strategically chosen not to allow this to be a ballot initiative. The part that is most disturbing to me is the board members have said privately the changes proposed would not gain approval if this were placed on the ballot, especially as it is currently structured.
The County Board and staff are marching ahead doing the equivalent of what Kansas would have done if their residents had not had the opportunity to intervene.
I say, as a Democrat, don’t be afraid to let democracy work, as messy as that can be. We should not allow authoritarian rule by either party, nationally or locally.
I challenge the County Board, don’t be afraid of your constituents and to stop hiding. Let us vote to determine if you have developed the right solution to the problem.
If you are able to achieve a win at the ballot box, it would validate your work. If not, back to the drawing board to come up with something that could be supported by your constituents.
Sara Uzel, Arlington