Letter: Brian Stearns, Lovettsville

Editor: Regarding the recent public notice of proposed changes to the Lovettsville Town Charter, as a resident of Lovettsville since 2010, I strenuously object to all proposed changes. When taken together they are blatantly and shockingly authoritarian. 

Specifically:

Change 1: The council is proposing to move the mayor from the executive to the legislative branch and allow the mayor a vote in all matters, and to remove veto power from the mayor.

The mayor’s veto power is a critical check in a governmental system that must seek to balance the legislative power of the council. The only reason to remove such a power is to consolidate unchecked power in the council, ensuring the tyranny of the majority. We have seen the value of the mayor’s veto in the recent past, when council members actions were clearly motivated by personal vendettas and grandstanding rather than by the good of the town. This is an authoritarian proposition which flies in the face of the democratic principles this Commonwealth and this country are founded upon.

Change 2: The council is proposing to remove the power from the mayor to “recommend to the Council such measures as he may deem necessary for the good of the Town.”

What is the intention of such a change to the Town Charter, if not to silence the mayor’s voice when it potentially dissents from the opinion of the council’s majority? What purpose does the mayoral office serve, if not to recommend measures for the good of the town? Is council so closed-minded as to be unwilling to even be presented with potentially opposing viewpoints?

Change 3: The council is proposing to allow a current council member to be appointed mayor if there is a mayoral vacancy.

It is quite bad enough that council already has the power to appoint new members to Town Council without requiring a general election. Now the majority block in council wishes to further consolidate their gains by appointing one of their own as mayor? Does the majority block in council fear that someone else who shares their opinions could not win the mayorship through an open election? This change, in combination with council’s proposed evisceration of the mayor’s powers, can only serve one purpose: to effectively create an open council seat in the event the majority block manages to harass the mayor into resignation. This will allow the majority block to appoint yet another like-minded unelected councilperson while simultaneously giving voting power to the now-pseudo-mayor. This would truly be an authoritarian two-for-one deal.

Change 4: The council is proposing to allow any appointed council member to vote on all financial decisions even if that member has been appointed, not elected.

Council is advocating changing the Town Charter to, in essence, support taxation without representation. The legislative power of the purse string is paramount in our democracy. For council to suggest that unelected individuals should have any vote over the expenditure of our tax dollars is anathema. It is authoritarian overreach. It is unpatriotic.

I urge the council to reflect on their true motivations for such suggested changes, and to carefully consider the authoritarian and anti-democratic path they are proposing. 

Brian Stearns, Lovettsville

3 thoughts on “Letter: Brian Stearns, Lovettsville

  • 2021-12-14 at 8:23 pm
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    Mr. Stearns’ concerns about consolidation of power in Lovettsville are appreciated. I’d like to here from the other side before finalizing an opinion on the proposed changes. But regarding his concern about an appointed council member voting on budget issues — I don’t see what’s so bad about that. Tonight, I watched Tom Marshall be appointed to LCSB. Mr. Marshall will vote on financial issues related to LCSB’s $1.5-billion annual budget. I’m fine with that. It’s really not that unusual for an appointed council member to have similar powers to an elected council member. Happy Holidays Loudoun!

    • 2021-12-15 at 11:38 am
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      When a person is Voted into office, they are an Elected Official and accountable to the Voters. When a person is appointed, they are accountable to the person(s) that appointed them to the office.

      When an Elected Official is replaced by an Appointed Official, the Voter loses power in that they have a person making decisions for them that they did not have say in placing into that office…either voting for or against…but they had a say.

      As for Mr. Marshall, he is filling an open seat and will face election when the term expires.

  • 2021-12-15 at 9:17 am
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    Brian,

    Thank you for breaking down the current actions of the Lovettsville Town Council because while I know you are posing rhetorical questions, many people don’t. I’m sure that anyone paying attention to the political theater in Lovettsville isn’t remotely surprised at the recent actions by the TC to change the Town Charter. This is a group that wraps themselves in the American flag while heading warp speed into authoritarianism. But you best believe they like to remind us to “Keep the ‘Love’ in Lovettsville” in every weekly newsletter.

    In reference to Change 4:
    Change 4: The council is proposing to allow any appointed council member to vote on all financial decisions even if that member has been appointed, not elected.
    Would that be retroactive to allow appointed member Renee Edmonston to vote?

    The “Let’s Go, Brandon” crowd doesn’t hesitate to scream “fascism” but let’s see how quick they are to scream “authoritarianism”–especially when it’s playing out in their own back yard.

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