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On May 1, polls are open for citizens to vote for a new mayor and town council in Herndon.

I always have been dismayed by the lack of turnout during elections — especially town elections. The issues that local governments address — i.e., traffic, planning, zoning, development, etc. — often have a bigger and more immediate impact on people's lives than state or national issues. Citizens in Herndon have the unique opportunity to take an active role in the issues that affect our day-to-day lives. The opportunities to deal with state senators and/or representatives are pretty slim, but the mayor and town council know most involved citizens by name and/or face.

If you are content with the way the Herndon works, get out and vote to keep it running that way. If you are unhappy about the way issues have been handled, get out and vote to change things. The important thing is to vote. Nothing sends a better message than supporting candidates who listen and act accordingly, or replacing those who have ignored your concerns and/or the issues close to your heart. Every vote counts. People have lost elections in this town by as little as two or three votes.

Once you’ve decided to vote, please vote intelligently.

Ÿ Consider each candidate carefully to decide if he or she supports the issues that matter to you. Evaluate what the candidate says — whether in person, in campaign literature, or on his or her website, in articles, etc. But be wary: Several incumbents’ websites list topics he or she supposedly supports, which is in direct contradiction to his or her voting record.

For example: Several candidates talk about “preserving Herndon’s small town feel” and “unique identity,” yet voted against setting minimum standards to preserve the quality of life for the Metro station development area. Consider checking the meeting minutes posted on the town website for incumbents’ comments and voting record. To do so click on “agendas and minutes” on www.herndon-va.gov/Content/Government/Town_Council.)

Ÿ “Vote for up to six” does not mean you must vote for six candidates. It is critical only to vote for individuals you really want in office. Voting for more — e.g., voting for six even if you don’t fully support all of them — can, in effect, cancel out your vote for the person(s) you really want in office. Each vote and non-vote counts.

Ÿ Consider if the “team” approach is good for the town. The purpose of a multi-person council is to bring different ideas and perspectives to the table to determine the best overall approach to an issue. Do you really want seven people elected who share all the same opinions? If candidates already have formed an “alliance,” they’ll probably always be agreeing on everything. This isn’t good even if you agree with their view!

Ÿ Think about what Herndon means to you.

Did you move to Herndon because of the small town community feel and charm? Do you appreciate the open spaces, parks and mature trees? Is it important to you to preserve what brought you to Herndon?

Or did you move here because of what Herndon “can be?” Did you buy your home at a reasonable price, planning for future development and higher density that will allow you to sell your home at a higher price?

Do you see yourself staying in Herndon for five years, 10 year or longer? What do you want Herndon to look line in those time frames? Will Herndon still be a place you want to live?

Please vote on May 1 — and vote intelligently.

Pat Voltmer, Herndon