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A region that's out of touch?
Vote for governor reflects obsolete views about the Fredericksburg area

RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 11/20/2005

By RICHARD AMRHINE

AS DEMOCRAT Tim Kaine was trouncing Republican Jerry Kilgore wherever there are growing numbers of Virginians, the Fredericksburg area was bucking the trend.

It speaks volumes that Kaine beat Kilgore in traditional Republican strongholds such as Virginia Beach and Prince William and Loudoun counties--something not even Gov. Mark Warner was able to do. Voters in those localities decided they were pleased with Warner, even if he is a Democrat, and figured Kaine would stay the course.

Around here, though, the only localities that preferred Kaine as governor were the city of Fredericksburg and Caroline County, both of which have large minority populations and generally vote Democratic.

In Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, Orange, Culpeper and Fauquier counties, Kilgore ran strong. The former attorney general clobbered the lieutenant governor in each of those counties, claiming nearly 56 percent of the vote. That's a landslide--especially in a three-candidate field.

The results tell us a lot about our area, in particular that it is in the midst of an identity crisis: Despite all of the earmarks that it is becoming more suburban, it still clings as best it can to its country roots. At some point, people will accept the inevitable--the sooner the better.

There are various forces at work here. Those who don't like the way the region is changing include many who are native to the area, and many who came here from elsewhere but want to slam the door on everyone else.

We should sympathize with their feelings, but not much. Everyone has idyllic memories of the way things used to be. We all grow nostalgic from time to time and yearn for the simpler life of days past.

But people are kidding themselves to expect that life will stay the same forever. The changes here over the past generation or two have been remarkable. The Baltimore row-house neighborhood where I, and my parents before me, grew up has changed dramatically. The routes of our Sunday drives in the country are now lined with housing developments and shopping centers.


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