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Bill Moving May Local Elections to November Advances to House of Delegates

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Lawmakers are considering a bill that would move all local elections from May to November.

Some local governments across Virginia have elections in May for city council, town council or school board. That's a very old tradition in Virginia, but now that tradition may be coming to a close.

Senator Lionell Spruill is a Democrat from Chesapeake who says May elections create local governments that are not responsive to their constituents.

"How can councils make decisions without the people who put them there? That's what I'm hearing across the state is that the councils are not listening to the citizens. They're voting for what they want to and not listening to what the citizens say," he says. "So I said, 'OK, let's do it this way then. Let's do it for the citizens.'"

He has a bill that would move all May elections to November. Senator Bill Stanley is a Republican from Franklin County who says local communities should decide if they want to move their elections to November or keep them in May.

"One of the things we have in local government is that too often we here in the General Assembly under the Dillon Rule are making decisions for them," Stanley says. "Let's at least preserve what they have in their charter so that they can make these decisions, and if they want to do it they can have a referendum or they can come to us and ask for a charter change."

The vote on the bill was tied in the Senate with 19 votes for and 19 votes against. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax broke the tie and voted in favor of the bill, sending it to the House of Delegates.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.