Herndon's Immigration Election

Friday, May 5, 2006

Despite spin from both sides of the immigration issue ["Seeing Vote's Effects Far Beyond Herndon; Immigration Opponents Cheer Election," Metro, May 4], Herndon's election Tuesday says more about the failings of at-large voting than it does about any backlash against the town's day-laborer center.

In Herndon, as in many small towns, every voter casts a ballot for every position on the Town Council. It's a system that favors candidates who are able to win townwide majorities, which makes it difficult for a minority to win representation.

The new members of the council, just like the losing incumbents, are Anglo and middle class. Yet they govern a town that, the 2000 Census found, is 26 percent Hispanic and 10 percent black and in which 44 percent of the people speak a language other than English at home. But in Tuesday's election, Jorge Rochac, who was vying to be the council's first Hispanic American, came in dead last.

Until the voting system is changed to one based on wards, as in the District, or on districts, as in Fairfax County, the Herndon Town Council is unlikely to look like Herndon.




Regarding the Herndon election:

First, when only 26 percent of eligible voters vote in an election -- and that's an increase from last time -- we are saying that the right to vote, for which many people suffered and died, is not something that we value. If we don't bother to take part in this democratic process, we probably deserve whatever we get in elected officials.

Second, we are a nation of immigrants. Most of us are part of families who came to this country from elsewhere -- whether hundreds of years ago or yesterday. Many of our staunchest citizens are descendants of people who braved hardship to immigrate here -- and not necessarily legally.

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to care for the widow, the orphan and the stranger within our gates.




I am thankful that the voters of Herndon had the backbone to send a message to the city's administrators. I now live in Florida, but before I moved from Herndon, I was incensed over the creation of the day-laborer center.

I hope other politicians will look at this election result before making decisions to support illegal activities.


Summerfield, Fla.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company