By Michelle Adams and Nick Melillo
With election time approaching, it’s important to remember that each and every vote that makes it to ballot counts towards one candidate’s policies, which directly impact the future of our country. Now, remember that learning about the candidates is somewhat fruitless if the vote isn’t going to make it to ballot, so know the issues, express an opinion, and vote for the future that best suits your ideals. After all, an opinion cannot be heard if it’s kept to oneself.
Local elections can be more important to vote in, because results are often by thin margins. The local elections of November 2015 left Winchester with many new officials. Seats in the House of Delegates were won in landslides by three Republicans, J. Randy Minchew, Christopher E. Collins, and Dave A. LaRock. In a close race for Frederick County Sheriff, Lenny Millholland came out on top with a mere five percent lead over Terrence P. Bohan. Also in a close race, Kitty Hockman-Nicholas prevailed over Marietta Cather Walls for Soil and Water Conservation Director of the Lord Fairfax District. Full election results, courtesy of the Virginia Department of Elections, are shown below:
Position Winning Representative
|Senate of Virginia||Jill Holtzman Vogel, Republican|
|House of Delegates, 10||J. Randy Minchew, Republican|
|House of Delegates, 29||Christopher E. Collins, Republican|
|House of Delegates, 33||Dave A. LaRock, Republican|
|Clerk of Court (Frederick County)||Rebecca P. Hogan|
|Commonwealth’s Attorney (Frederick County)||Ross P. Spicer|
|Sheriff (Frederick County)||L.W. “Lenny” Millholland|
|Commissioner of Revenue (Frederick County)||Ellen E. Murphy|
|Treasurer (Frederick County)||C. William Orndoff, Jr.|
|Soil and Water Conservation Director (Lord Fairfax District)||Kitty Hockman-Nicholas|
|Chairman Board of Supervisors (Frederick County)||Charles S. DeHaven, Jr.|
Currently, the most popular Democratic candidate for the upcoming primary election is Hillary Clinton, whose policies are rather favorable for students. Clinton’s current policies call for a change in the countrywide student loan debt epidemic. The proposed New College Compact bill intends to significantly lower the cost of four-year public colleges, make community colleges virtually free and cut the interest rate of student loans. In layman’s terms: Clinton’s New College Compact is designed to make students’ lives cheaper and easier from coast to coast. Among a variety of other proposed reforms, Clinton also intends to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour. This change could make a world of difference to students particularly because they haven’t gotten their degrees, yet still need a way to pay the bills. Though there’s a great deal of debate between inauguration and congressional approval, Hillary Clinton’s policies cater to the financially-crippled students of America, so she is certainly worth looking into before election time.
Coming in at number two is Bernie Sanders, whose optimistic policy claims seem a little too good to come true. Similar to Clinton’s views, Sanders is extremely forward in wanting to eliminate college tuition all together. Without a doubt, the idea sounds wonderful, but the logistics of the idea simply don’t fit in with the American standard of capitalizing on every government-funded service. Just as Clinton proposed, Sanders desires to raise the minimum wage of American workers, but his goal is an even more optimistic $15 an hour wage. Sanders seems to have legitimate respect for the middle and lower class workers of America; his goals, though set on a high standard, fully favor the hard-working blue collar citizens that deserve a little extra. The real difficulty that Sanders is likely to face if he wins the vote is that congress will most definitely be opposed to his drastic reform propositions. Nevertheless, Sanders’ optimism is worthy of admiration just as much as his honesty is worthy for recognition.
Tallying in unfortunately low in the Democratic candidate race is Martin O’Malley, whose ideals are notably dissimilar to those of Clinton and Sanders. O’Malley’s approach leans more towards security reform, which has proven to be a less popular issue among democratic voters. His intentions, if elected, are to raise security measures in order to protect against both physical and cyber threats. Despite his intentions to better insure the security of the country, it looks as though O’Malley will have a difficult time securing his potential presidency.
The Republican primary race has remained a close one. Following several nationally televised debates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson remain neck-and-neck for the Republican nomination. In most recent Virginia polls conducted by BallotPedia, Carson is leading Trump by a mere two percent, though in early October, Trump had Carson by six percent. Though the media has been heavily scrutinizing both of these leading Republican candidates, it does not appear that their reputations are being greatly tarnished, as both Trump and Carson stand at nearly thirty percent approval, while the next leading Republican candidates, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, maintain merely half of that percentage. Lower still, at around 5% of voters, stand Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie, while all other candidates failed to make five percent in either poll. Overall, while the Democratic campaign won Virginia in the past two elections, opinions seem to be changing in the Commonwealth: as President Obama’s administration continues to make decisions against the wishes of the American people, it seems that the democrats are struggling to keep voters on their side.
If you are interested in voting in either the Republican or Democratic primaries for the Presidential Campaign Nomination in Winchester, you will need to be registered to vote in this district of Virginia by Feb. 8, 2016. The primary elections will be held at regular polling places on, “Super Tuesday,” March 1, 2016. The Commonwealth of Virginia holds open primaries, meaning that you are not required to declare membership of a party to vote in their primary; however, you may only vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries – not both.
If you are not from Winchester and wish to vote absentee, you will need to apply for an absentee ballot through your home state. These can be found online and mailed to your local voting registrar.
Following the primary elections, nationwide winners will then receive nominations from their respective parties, and subsequently compete for your vote in the official presidential election, on Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016.
Voting is an integral part of the democratic society we are lucky to live in. Especially as college students and young citizens, it is important for us to stay informed and active in the country’s political endeavors, in order to have our voice – the voice of the future – heard by our representatives.