COMMENTARY: Setting the Registers to Zero


May 8, 2014

I was an observer at the elections in Cape Charles on Tuesday. My initial job was to make sure that the registers were set to zero. Each voting machine has an electronic counter on the front of it which is incremented as each person casts a vote. Having the registers set to zero at the beginning of an election assures that no candidate obtains a head start in the counting.

I see this initial validation as a metaphor for our collective town future. Those of us in the vocal, but defeated, minority now have an opportunity to do as the election officials did in the early hours of Tuesday morning: Set the registers to zero.

The voices of the majority have spoken. Let’s all start again by showing respect for our democratic process. Let’s give the new Mayor and Council an opportunity to fix things that some see as broken. Things that I feel strongly about are as follows:

— Allowing citizens to speak their minds at the Town Council meetings and having the Council members actually take an interest in what is said.

— Arranging periodic town meetings to obtain citizen feedback for major town projects before the Council has decided on a course of action.

— Being watchful of the money that citizens give to the town to run it.

— Avoiding snap spending decisions.

— Keeping staffing to the minimum possible.


— Making a plan for the future and following it, if at all possible.

— Soliciting input from citizens when opportunities arise.

– Avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest between Town management, staff, and those in elected positions.

Those of us in the minority should not constantly resurrect the Old School, park bathrooms, the purchase of seven lots, and the sewage plant. These things are done deals. Plenty of good things have happened in the last few years.

Setting the registers back to zero affects both sides. Changing attitudes is sometimes a matter of having to rearrange one’s face into a smile until the soul actually feels it. This takes time, but eventually the smile becomes real. Let’s all try to set the registers back to zero.

Submissions to COMMENTARY are welcome on any subject relevant to Cape Charles. Opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily of this publication.



10 Responses to “COMMENTARY: Setting the Registers to Zero”

  1. Beth Ann Sabo on May 8th, 2014 6:51 am

    A thoughtful essay, thank you.

  2. Joe Banks on May 8th, 2014 7:34 am


  3. Paul Chandler on May 8th, 2014 8:46 am

    The election results sent out a clear message, one which many did not want to hear. Comments on The Wave illustrate reactions as diverse as our electorate…contempt, denial, skepticism, elation. I applaud Mrs. Gay for her thoughtful commentary and defy anyone, supporters of “the old team” or “the new team”, to have any argument with the points she outlines. The electorate has made their choice, so let’s respect their voice and show our support for “the democratically elected team”.

  4. David Boyd on May 8th, 2014 8:57 am

    Some very worthwhile sentiments. Nice letter, Karen.

  5. Ron Wrucke on May 8th, 2014 9:50 am

    One of the most meaningful Commentaries I’ve seen posted. All should take heed of the points made — Thanks for composing and publishing!

  6. Janet Dudley on May 8th, 2014 10:11 am

    Thank you Karen, for saying it so profoundly, and hopefully all will take heed and start with a fresh look at the needs of the citizens and the town.

  7. Tammy Holloway on May 8th, 2014 12:27 pm

    Thank you Karen for your profound and true words, nothing is more motivating than the opportunity to start fresh! ( I use our yard make-over as an example; the task seemed daunting at first, we dug in, created a clean palate and made decisions with the information we had at the time, most of the plants thrived, some let us know they were not in the right place and others said loud in clear I am outta here! We regrouped and did what we thought was best)

    I think we all need to remember, our town staff, public servants and volunteers are often HARD jobs for people with good hearts. In my opinion no one gets up in the morning as a public servant, volunteer or town of CC staff and says ” I want to do an awful job for the citizens of Cape Charles today!” Just the opposite in fact, I think we all love this gem of a town and we really want to see it thrive!

    Karen, it is exciting to have you here in town full time and I know you, like David, will make a positive and a encouraging difference in the community. I encourage those who have strong convictions on how things should be done to “dig in” and get involved…we need lots of volunteers to continue to make Cape Charles a great place to live and visit!

  8. Roger L. Munz on May 8th, 2014 7:42 pm

    Karen, a very classy piece of journalism that should set the tone for the future,
    May we all look and learn. RLM

  9. Nancy Daniel Vest on May 9th, 2014 7:45 am

    “Changing attitudes is sometimes a matter of having to rearrange one’s face into a smile until the soul actually feels it.” Wisdom….so beautifully stated…..
    Thank you for beginning the healing process.

  10. Tim Krawczel on May 10th, 2014 7:52 am

    I have a strong suspicion that Cape Charles is a food desert. Here is something we can do about it — year ’round: There are several vacant buildings that could house this endeavor for benefit to an entrepreneur and the community alike. CLICK: