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A region that's out of touch? page 2
Vote for governor reflects obsolete views about the Fredericksburg area

RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 11/20/2005

By RICHARD AMRHINE

continued

People have choices. They can accept the changes, work to manage them and appreciate the positive aspects of them. Or they can pack up and set out in search of their perfect spot. Or they can stay put, mope about the changes and try to stop or reverse them. (These are the folks who would try to prevent the incoming tide from ruining their sand castles. Good luck.)

The tide-fighters posted victories in the area counties that went for Kilgore. It suggests a motivated electorate, but not necessarily a representative or progressive one.

Kilgore successfully wooed the hunting and fishing vote, for example, but had no plan that would help preserve from development the places that area residents like to hunt and fish. He billed himself as a country boy who wants to put the death back in death row, and that was about it.

For many voters, sadly, that was good enough.

Many of the come-heres, as we are called, have not yet made the Fredericksburg area "home." Some haven't taken an interest in the local politics, and may not even bother to vote. If they're from Northern Virginia and continue to commute there or to Washington each day, they may be less focused than they should be on the place they return to each night.

They don't recognize the changes that have taken place because they're accustomed to the strip-mall landscape, and accept gridlock as a normal part of life. Many came here looking for relatively inexpensive housing, and that still hasn't changed.

The Kaine candidacy resonated in Northern Virginia and in Hampton Roads partly because he is promising to give localities the power to deny new development if local roads can't support it. In those areas, that might seem like closing the barn door long after the horse is gone, but at least it's a step toward real local control.

With development interests maintaining so much power in the Fredericksburg area, and those who would manage growth intelligently unable to muster a unified voice loud enough to be heard, it's no surprise that conditions here appear to be deteriorating.

Hopefully Stafford and Spotsylvania, which have about one-tenth the population density of Fairfax County, won't wait until their populations double again before effective growth and economic-development strategies can take hold.


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