With former vice president Joe Biden’s announcement early Thursday to join the Democratic race, all eyes are on the Democratic primary. The question of who will emerge as Donald Trump’s challenger lingers in everyone’s mind as the nation holds its breath in anticipation of the upcoming 2020 presidential election. It is in these looming shadows of the presidential election that 2019 local and state elections in Virginia lie overlooked in the minds of many. Voter turnout figures statistically show that Americans hold the presidential election to be the most influential. Yet, local and state elections are important now more than ever.
State and local government autonomy have long stood a pillar of American society, a concept with roots in the debates over the Articles of Confederation and the ratification of the Constitution. The formation of the United States was the aftermath of (in the colonists’ eyes) tyrannical monarchical rule and unjustified governmental control. As such, the founding fathers established state government so each state would rule directly over its people, and the federal government would play a limited role in American daily life. While federal powers have expanded and evolved over the centuries to adapt to changing times, the purpose of state and local governments to interact directly with the people remains unchanged.
The local and state government oversee the aspects of civil society that most impact the day-to-day lives of citizens. Housing, transportation, education, waste collection, and public recreation facilities are services provided by the county and state government. When citizens voice their complaints and bring forth their ideas, they are heard first by local entities. In times of crisis and need, local government entities are the first responders. This is where the rubber meets the road, and ultimately, where government meets the people.
Amidst the national buzz for the presidential election, Virginia and Fairfax County are gearing up for the 2019 election. Across Virginia, all 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 seats in the State Senate are up for election. In Fairfax County, all ten positions on the Board of Supervisors and all 12 seats on the Fairfax County School Board are open in the 2019 election. The outcome of the 2019 Virginia election holds the potential to transform the state’s political landscape – a feat arguably equal in weight to the election of Executive office.