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Pledge This

A group of homeowner association presidents in Chesterfield County recently asked political candidates to sign a three-page manifesto pledging to "significantly modify" policies toward residential and commercial growth. But why not take things a step further? We offer a modified pledge.

Board of Supervisor candidates who fail to sign and fax this pledge back to Style Weekly at (804) 355-9089 will have their pictures run under the headline, "Chesterfield County Supervisor Candidates Who Didn't Sign Our Pledge."

1. I promise to stop pretending that Chesterfield politics are scandal-free.

Ed Barber pleaded guilty to sexual battery against his stepdaughter. Yes, Richmond City Council has its shady history. Chuck did heroin. Gwen took a bribe. Reva got naughty with a police officer in his police car (allegedly). But at least Reva was screwing around with another adult (allegedly), and not a minor. Not her teenage stepdaughter. Did we mention Dickie King, who at age 60 married a 22-year-old Russian girl here on a work visa? (Notice we didn't make any mail-order-bride jokes or mention how he had just divorced his previous wife, whom he taught in the seventh grade.)

2. I promise to build a new administrative building.

Ever been in the main administrative building in the government complex off Route 10? Was it designed by architect Mike Brady? It's a step back in time, with brick walls and pictures of county farming heroes, not to mention the big-haired Chesterfield women who walk the hallways wearing thick pantyhose and five layers of makeup. At lunch you'll find them smoking Marlboro Reds by the picnic tables. We suspect they drive Pontiacs and daydream about Dale Earnhardt. We hear the clerk's office bans women from wearing pants. Good Lord, this isn't 1970.

3. I promise to hire more police officers.

Have you watched the 11 o'clock news lately? Chesterfield now has gangs, banks are robbed regularly, home invasions are almost a daily occurrence. Just imagine how bad it would be if the city hadn't annexed all that land in the 1970s! Guess what, Chesterfielders, urban crime is now your problem.

4. I pledge to stop fretting about illegal immigrants costing the county so much in public services.

It's popular to blame everything on the Mexicans these days, but if you're going to throw a fit about how much illegal immigrants cost the county, you might want to look at how much the county saves by hiring subcontractors who use cheap, undocumented labor. And let's face it, you love Pedro's South of the Border just as much as we do.

5. I pledge to drop the Cloverleaf Mall plan and stop thinking that government can manufacture a retail corridor.

It won't work. Come visit Richmond's downtown, and you can see what happens when local government tries to create a market that doesn't exist. 6th Street Marketplace ring a bell? Retail follows rooftops, period. Look at the surrounding communities, figure out the demographics and get out of the way. You've already spent almost $10 million to buy a mall property that's worth, at best, $4 million, and pissed off one of the region's biggest black churches in the process. Not to mention the landowners.

6. I pledge to stop deploying the county's only black administrator to face news media whenever a racially sensitive topic arises.

We all know Deputy County Administrator Pete Stith is the only black person roaming the administrative halls, so it's disingenuous. And when Lane Ramsey's big job came up, you passed him over for the white guy, James Stegmaier. Nothing against Stegmaier, who's quite capable. But so was Stith. Don't trot him out occasionally, whenever the issue of race seems to cloud a particular issue. (Did we mention Cloverleaf?) It's bad form.

7. I pledge to address the county's lack of low-income housing.The crime's now crossed your borders, and so has the poverty. Richmond can't bear the burden of low-income housing forever, and it's bad for everyone. We're not saying to rebuild Blackwell, but the sooner the county's political leaders acknowledge that it has a moral obligation to help decentralize the poverty that plagues the city, the sooner we'll become a truly great region that can attract bigger businesses and economic development. (How's that commercial tax base doing, by the way?) S

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