Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Being an Elected Official

Virginia has a part time legislature, with the House of Delegates and State Senate in session only in January and February, and every other year the first week of March. At least that’s the theory.

There is certainly enough going on to keep me busy 40 hours a week or more being your Delegate and representative in Richmond.

Last weekend was a great example. Instead of my usual Saturday morning trip to the Falls Church farmer’s market, I started out at the Annual Taste of Falls Church and Fall Festival. I was humbled by the number of constituents who approached me and told me they recognized me from my newsletter, or from reading the Falls Church News Press, or following me on Facebook and Twitter.

I was so happy to visit with my friends working the booth at Virginia 2021, a group that advocates for fair and non-partisan redistricting in Virginia. I saw my friends from the League of Women Voters registering and sharing information about the Fall Ballot. I saw familiar faces advocating for common sense action to reduce gun violence, and stopped to chat at the AAUW booth to talk about Student Loan Debt, one of the issues I’m most passionate about.

I got so busy meeting, greeting and chatting with constituents I barely had time to eat.

About half way through the day, I headed over to the Eden Center for another festival, celebrating the Lunar New Year with merchants and members of the Vietnamese community. I ran into the Mayor and introduced my son to bubble tea, and got to speak with many new American residents of the 53rd House district.

Later I returned with my son to close out the Taste of Falls Church before taking him to Flag Football tryouts at George Mason High School where I got reacquainted with the football parents from last season.

Sunday was another full day, as I attended one of a series of neighborhood meet and greets hosted by a constituent in the Pine Spring neighborhood. We chatted about Air BNB ordinances, school funding to help speed along the renovation of Falls Church High School, requiring Virginia employers to have fair leave policies, and even how to get permit parking districts expanded. The things that affect neighbors on a daily basis.

From there I headed to an event for NARAL Virginia. And then on to Gerry Connolly’s half way to St. Patty’s event in the 11th Congressional District one of two in my House of Delegates Districts.

As day turned to evening I headed over to McLean High School (where my daughter goes and I graduated) for a town hall with 8th District Congressman Don Beyer. I was so impressed with Congressman Beyer’s answer to questions on health care for all, net neutrality, improving guest worker visa application processes, and more.

I think maybe you all are starting to get the idea. Being a member of the House of Delegates is about much more than spending a few weeks each winter in Richmond. It’s about more than keeping track of how many bills passed vs. how many failed.

Don’t get me wrong, the time we spend in Richmond is incredibly important. We cast thousands of votes each session on the floor and in committee on an incredible range of issues.

How am I supposed to know how to cast those votes if I don’t know my district? I cast those votes on behalf of you, my constituents, my fellow Virginians.

I’m not complaining. This is a typical weekend in the life of a Delegate. Holding this office and representing all the people of my district, which includes Merrifield and the City of Falls Church, and much of the rest of Falls Church, is a responsibility I take seriously.

Being an elected official is about listening and being active in the community at all levels – city, county, and state. I truly enjoy the opportunity to meet constituents, to hear concerns, and to work to make our community and the Commonwealth the best place to live, work, and raise a family. This is why I keep a full calendar. This is why I’m running for re-election in November.