Wednesday, April 16, 2014

City Council elections held May 1

Students can voice their opinions on important issues affecting Lynchburg

City Council elections are next week — Tuesday, May 1. Many students who are already pressed with decisions of which finals to study for and how they are getting home for summer plans may find themselves asking why they should vote in a local Lynchburg election.

“Voting locally will employ a dynamic role in changing the makeup of your city,” Liberty senior and Political Director for Senator Steve Newman Zach Martin said.

The city council members, according to the City of Lynchburg’s website, are elected to four-year terms of office and make decisions that adhere to the City Charter, make any additions or amendments to the Lynchburg City Code and create Council-appointed Boards and Commissions.

“When you’re voting in local elections, you’re voting for things such as meals taxes, water usage, power rates — things of that nature,” Martin said.

The current city council has recently voted down the proposed City Budget meals tax increase. This current council will vote on every aspect of the proposed budget for following years.

In the past, city council has also made the decision to add a Wards III polling place from Heritage High School to Liberty University. The council has also imposed Conditional Use Permits (CUP) on Liberty to require the college to build an estimated $8 million worth of roads, ramps and tunnels in previous years. This increase of building requirements caused tuition to raise $667 for the 2011 academic year, according to a previous Liberty Champion article.

According to the 2009 City of Lynchburg Financial Services’ comprehensive financial report, the second largest employer in Lynchburg is Jerry Falwell Ministries (JFM), Inc., which includes Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty University and Liberty Christian Academy. Employing 3,422 people, JFM is behind only Centra Health with the number of jobs that it brings to the community.

A 2009 report released by Mangum Economic Consulting, LLC, an organization specializing in economic and quantitative research, found that Liberty accounts for one out of every 10 local Lynchburg jobs. Liberty students also contributed to $217 million in local direct spending, the report said. The Magnum report also revealed that every dollar Liberty spends generates $1.48 in local economic activity.

In the past, Liberty students have helped swing the election for the House of Delegates between Shannon Valentine and Delegate Scott Garrett, Martin said.

“Liberty students can play a dynamic role in the election because of the voting block they make up,” Martin said.

Those students that are already registered to vote for city council members will be able to have their voices heard through the ballot box May 1.

“(Liberty students can) leave a mark and a legacy in Lynchburg by voting conservatives into office,” Martin said.

On-campus students will be voting in the Ward III district. Off campus students should vote in the precinct where they are registered.

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