Editor: It is interesting to see the recent decisions by Mayor Nate Fontaine, and the rest of the Lovettsville Town Council, with regard to filling a vacancy on the Council.
Make no mistake, this is crony politics at its best.
While Lovettsville is not mandated to hold a special election, the Virginia General Assembly has taken the time to smooth out the process for towns like Lovettsville. The mayor and Town Council are poised this week to ignore precedence, good policy and the voters of Lovettsville by simply appointing a new council member to fill a lengthy term.
It was just last year Lovettsville held a special election to ensure voters had their say. This was supported by members of the current Council, two of whom were elected as a result of that process. Yet, today, they apparently see no need to let the voters weigh in again. Could it simply be that those members now enjoy a majority of the vote for appointments, where the last time around they did not?
The appointment expected this week is for just under two years. That is a long time for somebody to be in a position of significant influence over our community without approval of voters. Furthermore, the appointment will be made by a group whose majority was installed by barely more than one quarter of our town’s voters.
When appointed, the new, unelected individual will also not be eligible to cast a votes on budget matters. The Constitution of Virginia is quite clear on this. Of course, with the financial challenges on the horizon, maybe this is an appointment’s greatest appeal- not voting on upcoming budgets. So while an appointed member would enjoy all other privileges of serving, they would be prohibited from actually influencing the primary responsibility of the town government.
Lovettsville deserves better. Lovettsville deserves to elect their leadership. Let’s have an election, not cronyism.
Mike Dunlap, Lovettsville
[Note: The writer is a former Lovettsville Town Council member.]