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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Election ballots will have four bond issues, lots of candidates

With the election season dominated by the presidential race—and to a lesser extent, the Senate and U.S. House races—voters might not realize there will be other items on the Nov. 6 ballot, including four bond issues and two constitutional amendments. You also need to know about approaching deadlines for voting.


If you haven’t registered to vote yet, or need to change your registration to reflect your current address, the deadline is Oct. 15.

A new voter ID law requires voters to bring certain kinds of identification to the polls. You can vote absentee in person at the Mason District Government Center Oct. 17-Nov. 3 on weekdays 2-8 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

On Election Day, Nov. 6, the polls will be open 6 a.m.-7 p.m.  There is at least one polling place change in Mason District since last year: Residents of the Masonville precinct will vote in the new Mason Crest Elementary School, 3705 Crest Drive, Annandale, rather than Westminster School on Gallows Road.  

If you didn’t vote last year, you might be surprised to find your polling place might have changed due to redistricting in 2011. The polling place is listed on your voter registration card or you can look it up online

To vote absentee by mail, you’ll need to apply for a ballot by Oct. 30 and must return it to the registrar’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. You can pick up an absentee ballot at county government centers and libraries or download it from the county website.

Here’s what’s on the ballot:

Presidential candidates

In addition to choosing among President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the Virginia ballot will also list Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, a former member of Congress; Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico; and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, an environmental health expert.

U.S. Senate candidates

  • George F. Allen (R) served as governor of Virginia in 1994-98, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000, and was defeated in his re-election bid in 2006 by Jim Webb.
  • Tim Kaine (D) was governor of Virginia in 2006-10, after serving as mayor of Richmond and lieutenant governor under Mark Warner 2002-06.
Congressional candidates

Ballots in the 11th congressional district, which includes most of Annandale, list these candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives: The incumbent, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), Chris Perkins (R), Joe Galdo (Green Party), Peter Marchetti (Independent Green Party), Christopher De Carlo (Independent), and Mark Gibson (Independent).

Voters in the 8th district, will have an opportunity to vote for the incumbent, Rep. James Moran, or challengers J. Patrick Murray (R), Janet Murphy (Green Party), or Jason Howell (Independent).

Most of those candidates appeared at a forum Saturday evening at a local middle school.

Fairfax County bonds  

A $55 million public safety bond referendum would provide $35 million to rebuild and expand three outdated fire stations—two of them in Mason—and $20 million to renovate courtrooms in the Fairfax County Courthouse.

The bond includes $9 million for the Bailey’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Station (#10) at 3601 Firehouse Lane, which was badly damaged during the 2010 blizzard, $14 million for the Jefferson Fire Station (#18), at 3101 Hodge Place, Falls Church, which is 48 years old and lacks sufficient space for the Technical Rescue Operations Team and adequate accommodation for female personnel, and $12 million for the Herndon Fire Station.

The courthouse renovations would improve security; accommodate people with disabilities, as required by federal law; and install technology to allow for digital evidence presentation, video arraignments, and remote witness testimony.

A $75 million parks and  park facilities bond, includes $63 million for the Fairfax County Park Authority and $12 million for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

The bond would fund several projects in the Annandale/Mason area, including improvements to the John C. and Margaret K. White Gardens ($500,000), a synthetic turf field at Pine Ridge Park ($810,000), paving portions of the Cross County Trail in Wakefield Park ($400,000), improvements at Pinecrest Golf Course, and land acquisition at Green Spring Gardens.

A $30 million stormwater improvement bond would be used to build a levee and pumping station to protect the Huntington community in Alexandria from flooding. 

A $25 million public library bond includes funds to build a new regional library in Reston and renovate libraries in Burke, Alexandria, and Tysons Corner.

There is more information on the bond referenda online.

Constitutional amendments

Ballot Question #1 would make it more difficult for the state to take private property through eminent domain. Critics of the measure say it would drive up the cost of redevelopment by requiring compensation to business owners for potential lost profits and is unnecessary because current law on eminent domain already adequately protects property owners.

Here is the exact wording of Ballot Question #1: It asks whether Section 11 of the Bill of Rights of the Virginia Constitution should be “amended (i) to require that eminent domain only be exercised where the property taken or damaged is for public use and, except for utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance, not where the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development; (ii) to define what is included in just compensation for such taking or damaging of property; and (iii) to prohibit the taking or damaging of more private property than is necessary for the public use.”

Ballot Question #2 addresses legislative sessions. It asks whether Section 6 of Article IV of the Constitution should be “amended to allow the General Assembly to delay by no more than one week the fixed starting date for the reconvened or ‘veto’ session when the General Assembly meets after a session to consider the bills returned to it by the governors with vetoes or amendments.”

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