Jack’s Wednesday guest post sets a new record for lateness –
So, we’re beginning to get fairly close to election time here in Virginia – it’s November 7th just in case anyone has forgotten!
To be a wee bit more specific – I am one of three candidates for the position of County Supervisor in district 3 of Wise County.
While up in the dizzy heights of the State level campaigns party allegiance may be an important consideration, I don’t believe that’s greatly significant at county level. In fact I’m certain that all three of us standing here have a good understanding of the issues facing this part of the Commonwealth and would be conscientious in addressing them.
At this point, for my many Scottish friends who read this blog, I should do a quick translation. County Supervisor would be the equivalent of a regional councillor in Scotland and a district would be the same as a ward.
Now, why should my neighbors vote for me? Well, probably there are three very big and interlinked issues facing Wise County right now. The first is a declining working population, partly because of increasing unemployment in the coal industry and partly because young people ‘get the h**ll out of Dodge’ at the first opportunity. The second is an economy that for too long has been over-dependent on the aforementioned coal industry and needs to urgently diversify. The third is a very significant problem with drugs – particularly prescribed opioid pain medications.
Regular readers will know that Wendy and I lost a friend recently, who took his own life, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the intersection of these three issues had a bearing on what he did.
So let’s look up instead of down and try to chart a way forward. We should no longer be sitting back and waiting for someone else, somewhere else to solve our problems. We need to give ourselves a good shake and then – –
Wendy attended a rural health conference recently where one of the presenters spoke about ‘Bright Sparks’ around the country; places that were doing much better than all the evidence suggested they should. Why was that? It seemed to bear out what we had observed a few years ago as we did our trip through the backroads of nine rural states around here. Some towns were obviously doing well while others were nothing more than ghost-towns. The secret seemed to be one of two things – either a respected locally born individual or community group that just ‘did it’ instead of waiting for others to do it for them!
I might be standing for office, but I’m very clear that office holders, at town, county or state level can’t do this. Not at all! What they can do, though, is smooth the way for the individuals and groups that can just ‘do it’. Over the last 12 years Wendy and I, along with like-minded friends, have fought our way through interminable minefields of policy documents, vested interests and many folk who just want things to roll along as they are. First was the bookstore, then the farmers’ market and then the Celtic festival. It’s easy to just roll over and give in – but each time we found that it was possible with like-minded locals to create a buzz and get things done.
That’s what I want to do – help get things done!
A final note – Virginia is actually a Commonwealth. That translates in various ways – common wealth; common wellbeing; common good (in Scotland – commonweal). That suggests to me that the rural areas of the State should share equally in the benefits that are enjoyed by the urban north. Even better – let’s help the rural south west become a bright spark!