Local Commentary

Senator Whipple’s Richmond Report


Hello from Richmond, where the 2010 General Assembly is in full steam! I want to provide a basic view of the Session and introduce the 31st Senatorial District team (your team!) in the Senate.

The 2010 General Assembly Session

Although I have the experience of fifteen sessions, every one is different and this one is definitely the most challenging of my career. Never in my service in the Senate has the budget situation been so dire. According to the Senate Finance Committee, the budget shortfall for the next biennium is $4.3 billion. Throughout this budget process, I am committed to safeguarding the quality of our education, our public safety and those most vulnerable among us.

Last month, Governor Kaine proposed a balanced budget that already included significant budget cuts. Governor McDonnell has rejected that plan, whereby forcing an additional $2 billion in cuts ($4.3 billion instead of $2.3 billion). McDonnell’s cuts will mean the elimination of more critical services and thousands of layoffs to public employees, including our teachers and public safety professionals. We still await Governor McDonnell’s detailed plan on how he would make his additional $2 billion in cuts.

Your Senate Team in Richmond

I have put together an excellent team for the Session. First, Arlene Spinelli is my Legislative Assistant after my long time aide, Janie Burton, retired last summer. She manages the office and my agenda. Originally from New Jersey, she moved to Arlington 32 years ago. She worked in banking for 13 years as vice president of investment banking at what was then American Security Bank (now part of Bank of America). For the 10 years prior to this summer, she has worked part-time for Fairfax County Public Schools as health liaison. I have known her for almost 20 years as a member of ABC (Arlingtonians for a Better County) and the Arlington Democrats.

Second, Evette T. Roots is serving as our Intern. She is a third-year Political Science student at Virginia Commonwealth University after a 14-year career as a real estate broker. Her extensive experience includes working with former Senator Robb, in Mary Sue Terry’s campaign, and for the Richmond City Council. As the Intern, she assists with legislative research and constituent services.

Next, Patricia Ann Jennings is back as our Receptionist. She is a native of Danville, but considers herself a “Southwest Virginian.” She is a Virginia public service retiree. Her job is critical as she is the initial interface with visitors and the public.

Finally, this year I am fortunate to have the extra help of Jaime Areizaga-Soto, Esq. as my Policy Advisor. He is an Arlington resident, a former White House Fellow at the U.S. Treasury Department, a graduate of Stanford Law School, active in the Democratic Party, and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard. As the Caucus Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate, I coordinate the operations (communications, coordination, and position-making) of the majority Caucus in the Senate. Jaime supports and advises me on legislation and Caucus-related issues.

If you need to contact any of my team members please feel free to call or email us in Richmond at district31@senate.virginia.gov or 804-698-7531. I am confident that my team and I will serve you proudly in Richmond this Session.

Senator Whipple represents the 31st District in the Virginia State Senate. She may be e-mailed at district31@sov.state.va.us