An opinion piece entitled “It’s time to ditch Beach’s baffling election system“ by Roger Chelsey appeared in the The Virginian-Pilot on Tuesday, July 17, supporting a change to the way the City of Virginia Beach elects members to the City Council and School Board.
Currently, all voters in Virginia Beach are able to cast ballots in every local race in Virginia Beach, without regard to district. For example, a voter living in the Kempsville District of Virginia Beach is able to vote for members of the City Council or School Board in the Rose Hall, Beach, Princess Anne and every other district in the city, in addition to their own.
Not only does this cause confusion for voters, who often aren’t aware that they will be voting in every City Council and School Board race when they show up to the polls, the current election system separates voters from their candidates and leaders, decreases accountability, and increases the cost of running a local campaign.
“It’s incredible that candidates for local office in Virginia Beach must reach out to all 270,000 voters in the city. That’s more than double than if you were to run for the Virginia Senate,” said Joel McDonald, candidate for the Virginia Beach School Board in the Rose Hall District. He continued, “It’s next to impossible for people to really know who is representing them on City Council or the School Board. Switching from a system where everyone is elected at-large to one where local leaders representing districts are elected by the people within those districts, single district voting, would enable local candidates elected leaders to connect with people in their districts more effectively. It would also allow voters to better hold local elected leaders accountable.”