If you are up early enough this Saturday morning; you likely can still make the big event beginning at 10 a.m. in Verona. Augusta County Republicans are having their meeting for the purpose of electing a new chairman.

People tell me these meetings can be awesome; that is if you like your political passion served by people who, sometimes, just plain don’t like each other. But I may have been misinformed, so don’t let me stop you.

What I do know is that this job is important for the county and has been poorly done for years. Not in terms of successfully electing Republicans but from offering unqualified candidates (warm bodies, potted plants). That this is obvious comes in observing representatives who seem timid or unknowing in the defense of small government, fiscal conservatism.

Is it possible, that in losing a single hardheaded former Democrat, that the board lost its way? Three months after my leaving the board, it raised our property tax rate to an all-time high. And followed the rate increase of 2018 with a significant assessment increase in 2019.

Increasing taxes on our homes 18% over two years are not the actions of people trying to do more with less. Instead it is the callousness of people with little empathy for social security recipients, wage earners, and farmers who live in a world where more money is not available by simply raising your hand and demanding it.

It is Republican Party nominated office-holders who have spun the tale that when the Republican electorate said “heck no!” to a $45 million courthouse, it was because they wanted to spend $70 million. Really?

Last year’s Republican board betrayed the notion that to govern least is to govern best. In denying the farm community its right to switch from growing feedstock to converting sunlight into energy, it demonstrated all the forward thinking of Soviet central planners.

Capitalism means having the right to respond to changing market conditions. The people should be encouraged to be inventive, take risks, as they see fit. Not restrained by people unlearned in basic democracy and capitalism principles.

Which brings me back to the topic at hand: the importance of the Republican party chairman. Our county is overwhelmingly Republican. Whoever is nominated for an office is almost a certainty to be elected. Often, they are the only choice.

While this is a very satisfactory position for those so aligned; it comes with serious responsibilities. When elected officials act irresponsibly it is not just a discredit to themselves but to the people, they say they represent.

To help elect the best chairman, who then can help forward the best candidates, I humbly offer what I hope they will see as constructive criticism.

Consider ending signed voting allegiance to participate in the meeting. Requiring people to submit their future votes blindly to the processes of group think, is to me, insulting, un-American.

This top down, Big Brother is watching, management style is the exact opposite of what free people of independent thought expect. Republicans generally stick together by choice, voting an occasional dissent is healthy for everyone.

Instead of demanding people follow the good leader, ask the candidates what they will do in support of the good people:

1. What steps will you take before imposing new taxes?

2. Should the actual vote of the people be used to guide your work or is it instead unimportant because the voters are not as smart as you?

3. Are property rights important to you?

4. Do corporations and government have first call on my land? (That is should a government be able to give Dominion the right to use my land to make energy and profit, but prohibit me from making energy and profit on the same land, my land?)

5. Is your purpose in office to advance our needs with fellow lawmakers or is it to advocate for your fellow lawmakers to us?

6. Will you vote your conscience even if it is uncomfortable?

7. Will you put the general good ahead of helpful political and personal actions? (i.e. lighting athletic fields before funding sewer lines for developers)

I am convinced the vitality of Augusta County has been the result of a fair tax rate ($.58) not despite it. That the long-time, proven values, of the county are preferable to imported ideas of newcomers and the urgencies of the politically connected. And finally, we need to trust God and the people.

Tracy Pyles, a former chairman and member of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors who lives in Augusta County, is a columnist for The News Virginian. His column is published Saturdays. He can be reached at tcpylesjr@hotmail.com.

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