New faces in Richmond
Next Wednesday, January 13, will feature the swearing in of 20 new delegates. Through retirements and electoral defeats, a surprising number of seats will change hands in Northern Virginia.
With the defeat of Chuck Caputo, Paul Nichols, David Poisson, Margi Vanderhye, and Bob Hull (in the primary), plus the election of Luke Torian to replace Jeff Frederick, Pat Hope to replace Al Eisenberg, and Mark Keam to replace Steve Shannon, Northern Virginia will have eight new members of the House of Delegates, not including Alexandria’s Charnielle Herring who replaced Brian Moran last January.
Hull, Eisenberg, Shannon and Frederick were replaced by Democrats: Kaye Kory, Hope, Keam and Torian. Caputo, Poisson, Vanderhye and Nichols were replaced by Republicans Jim Lemunyan, Rich Anderson, Tag Greason, Barbara Comstock. Mark Keam is the first Korean American to serve in the General Assembly, and Luke Torian is the first African-American from Prince William County to serve in the General Assembly.
The job ahead
No recent Virginia Governor has faced a more daunting set of challenges than Governor-elect McDonnell, as he wrestles with a multi-billion dollar shortfall. Mark Warner came close because of the bankrupt policies of Jim Gilmore, who created severe financial challenges by using several unwise budgetary schemes to avoid tax increases. His administration came perilously close to causing Virginia to lose its coveted AAA Bond rating. We will see if Governor McDonnell can close multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls without causing the Commonwealth to lose its reputation as the best managed state, the best state for doing business and the best state for a child to grow up in.
The Governor-elect calls on Wonder Woman
It is encouraging that the Governor-elect has asked several Democrats to serve in positions on his transition teams to develop ideas and proposals for the new administration to consider. I have been invited to serve on the team working on proposals for financing the Commonwealth’s priorities. My seatmate on the House floor, Delegate Vivian Watts, has been asked to serve on the public safety transition team. Before her current term in the House Delegate Watts served as Secretary of Transportation and Public Safety. It is difficult to imagine one person holding those two offices today, but under Governor Baliles, Vivian did exactly that. Governor-elect McDonnell should be congratulated for using Vivian’s exceptional talents. No one has a better grasp on the formulas, institutional barriers and historical successes and failures in those two areas than Vivian. If the Governor-elect will listen carefully to her, the Commonwealth will be the winner.
Delegate Scott represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at [email protected]