ON TUESDAY Virginia voters will find two statewide questions and, in some jurisdictions, various local proposals, chiefly involving bond issues for construction projects. Maryland ballots contain no statewide questions, but voters will find some significant questions about local governance, many of which we have already addressed.
The two Virginia questions are in the form of proposed constitutional amendments, both worthy of support:
Amendment Proposal No. 1: YES. This was drafted in response to a quirky election result two years ago, when redistricting and population differences meant taking away a state Senate seat from southwest Virginia and creating a new seat in western Fairfax County. Because of the timing of elections, the senator in the southwest seat continued to serve, even though his district had shifted hundreds of miles northward. He then retired, and a special election was held in Fairfax -- which left the southwesterners without a senator for whom they had voted.
The amendment would require that any vacancy after a census and before the next election be filled from the same district that elected the representative. When a decennial redistricting is enacted, incumbents would complete their terms, and if they do not for some reason, special elections would be held in the districts they served. The change makes sense.
Amendment Proposal No. 2: YES. This would expand the number of people in line to become governor in the event of a terrorist attack or other disaster. The constitution's current line of succession includes the lieutenant governor, the attorney general and the speaker of the House, in that order. If they cannot serve, the House of Delegates then meets to elect someone to fill the vacancy. The proposal expands the list to include the president pro tempore of the state Senate and the Senate majority leader. The successor would be acting governor until the House could convene to elect a governor. This proposal was drafted after considerable review by a group created by Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Local Bond Proposals: In localities proposing bond issues for schools, parks, transportation, libraries or other capital improvements, projects are reviewed and approved by elected officials. This year's ballot proposals in Northern Virginia and nearby Maryland deserve support. Of special importance is a request in Fairfax County for a $165 million transportation bond issue to finance long-awaited road projects and the county's share of Metro's six-year capital improvement program. If this proposal were voted down, the county would have to come up with another method for financing its Metro contributions. Metro needs to straighten out policies affecting its daily service, but equipment of all kinds is breaking down. The region must come up with major money if the system is to meet growing ridership demands.