Don’t sit on the sidelines – get involved

With all the renewed excitement and enthusiasm among Democrats, Independents and very disappointed Republicans, it is more important than ever for Culpeper’s citizens to get involved in our democracy.

A good place to start is in all the preparations that take place before the extremely important “off-year” elections at the local and state levels that will culminate on Nov. 7 this year. It can appear complicated, but it is vital that all concerned voters take part, no matter what their political persuasions may be.

Here’s what Democrats are doing. There are two Democratic candidates for the 30th District House of Delegates seat that includes most of Culpeper County (the district is made up of 31 precincts with 12 in Culpeper County, 10 in Orange County and nine in Madison County). Ben Hixon and Annette Hyde are challenging the Republican incumbent, Nick Freitas. You can find out about their campaigns here: www.benhixon.com and “Ben Hixon for Delegate” on Facebook; and https://annetteservesva.nationbuilder.com/ and “Annette Serves Virginia” on Facebook.

Democrat Tristan Shields (http://tristanshields.com/ and “Tristan Shields” on Facebook) is the sole candidate, so far, challenging Michael Webert, the current Republican incumbent in House of Delegates District 18, that includes five precincts in northern Culpeper County (the rest of the 18th is made up of 12 precincts in Fauquier, six in Rappanannock and four in Warren Counties).

If other candidates emerge, the 18th District will hold a district-wide caucus on May 27.

If you are reading this (no matter what party, if any, you may align yourself with) and you don’t know what precinct you are in and where you’re supposed to vote, you can find out right here: http://www.elections.virginia.gov/voter-outreach/where-to-vote.html. Be sure you are registered to vote! You can do that on line at this same website.

The decisions on who will represent the Democratic Party against the Republican incumbent are made by county “delegates” to the “2017 30th House of Delegates District Democratic Convention” that is being held on Saturday, April 29 at 10 a.m. at the Culpeper County Democratic Committee (CCDC) offices at 102 North Main Street, Suite 201, Culpeper, VA 22701.

How does this work?

Do you want to have a voice at the convention in who represents Culpeper against Nick Freitas? Then you must become a delegate to the convention. To do that, you must fill out an application form and submit it to Harold Boyd, the CCDC Chairman, by April 10—that’s tomorrow. There is a $10 filing fee but it may be waived. On that form, you declare yourself a delegate for either Ben Hixon or Annette Hyde, or you declare yourself “uncommitted.” You can find the forms that you need here: http://culpeperdemocrats.org.

Citizens who wish to be delegates from Madison and Orange counties follow similar procedures and they should contact their respective Democratic Committees for filing requirements (https://madisondems.org/ or chair@madisondems.org; and http://www.orangecountydems.org/ or sheilaclark769@gmail.com). The deadline for Orange is 5 p.m. April 10 with Sheila Clark at 117 Parliament St., Locust Grove, VA 22508 and the deadline for Madison is 5 p.m. Thursday, April 13. Signed forms may be emailed to chair@madisondems.org or by surface mail to P.O. Box 66, Leon, VA 22725.

How are these delegates selected once all the application forms are filed? This is where you, the voter, are once again, very important. Elections will be held at Democratic Caucuses in which all registered voters in the 30th District who declare themselves Democrats on the caucus participation forms will have an opportunity to take part. For the Culpeper County precincts, this caucus will be held at CCDC Headquarters on April 15 between noon and 4 p.m.

The Orange County Democrats will hold their caucus from 10 to 11 a.m. on April 15 at the Orange Community Center, 235 Warren St., Orange VA 22960. The Madison County Democrats will hold their caucus at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 20 at the Madison Chamber of Commerce, 110 N. Main Street, Madison, VA, 22727. The convention delegate candidates with the most votes shall be declared the delegates and the runners up shall be declared the alternates. If you don’t want to be a delegate, then voting for delegates is the other very important way you, as a concerned citizen, can make your voice heard.

And, you might have thought the Electoral College was hard to understand!

This, however, is democracy in action. It’s the way we prevent dictators and strongmen, corrupt officials, nasty outside influences and other dirty tricksters from despoiling our form of government. The voters at the ballot box determine who remains in power and who gets kicked out at every level of government.

There are other ways you can get together with like-minded citizens to advance what you think will benefit your community and your country.

“Nevertheless, she persisted” – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s unwittingly-coined rallying cry to women nationwide, after he tried to shut up Senator Elizabeth Warren, helped in naming the newly formed “Culpeper Persisters” progressive political action group. The organizers met after the Women’s March on Washington in January to discuss their shared frustration and the need to bring together progressives in Culpeper. They are one of many “huddles” that have formed all over the country in response to the draconian policies of the Trump administration. These groups have become more and more common even in places long considered republican strongholds.

The “Culpeper Persisters” are working locally to support justice, equality and conservation through self-education, community outreach and political activism. They are open to anyone, no matter what her (or his) political persuasion might be. Find them on Facebook and on Twitter at @culpeperpersist. Their next meeting will be held on Monday, April 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Culpeper County Library meeting room. Please consider attending.

There will be more to come on local elections at the town and county levels and on the state-wide elections for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Please participate. You owe it to your town, your county, your state, and your country. “Resist, insist, persist, enlist.”

Mike McClary

Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with author’s permission and originally appeared here.