The Town of Ridgeway is seeking public input on a proposed ordinance to move the dates of town elections from May to November.
Input will be accepted during a public hearing set for 6:15 p.m. on January 4 in the council chambers of the Ridgeway Mayor’s office, located at 806 Main Street.
The proposed ordinance is in response to recent amendments to the Code of Virginia moving all town elections to coincide with November general election dates beginning January 1, 2022.
Ridgeway Mayor Craig O’Der was unsure why the legislation was passed. He said, as far as he knows, the town has held its elections in May since it was chartered in 1890.
The new legislation requiring the change to the town’s electoral calendar is “unfortunate, but we have to comply with the Code of Virginia,” he said.
According to O’Der, residents of Ridgeway take pride in upholding the tradition of spring elections. “Ridgeway is a traditional place,” O’Der said, “People have a lot of pride in our community. It’s a really traditional kind of government and town with small-town values.
“The founders of this town said there would be a May election and we trust those people that founded the town,” he said.
He expressed concern that moving elections may create confusion among voters, as well as more work for election officials when town, county, state, and federal elections all happen at the same time.
He said the town participated in a conference call with the Virginia Municipal League (VML) and several small towns were “absolutely adamantly opposed” to the change, felt that it was not warranted, “and were talking about trying to fight” the legislation.
Ridgeway, however, will not join those localities, even though it also believes the change is not warranted.
“I think, let towns and cities decide when to have their elections,” O’Der said. “We don’t need somebody in Richmond to tell us how to live here in southwest Virginia.”