I announced my first bid for elective office in 1973 while standing on the steps of the historic Fairfax County Courthouse. Only my immediate family and my secretary and her husband were there to hear me harken back to the Fairfax Resolves of 1774 when the citizens of Fairfax County enumerated their complaints against the Crown.
I suggested that our contemporary problems were not much different except that they were directed at the government in Richmond, and I promised to go to the state Capitol and do something about our grievances.
Last week, I announced my candidacy for re-election. While the basics of government have remained the same since my first announcement, attacks on the functions of government have become increasingly shrill. Ideological differences in the legislature have seldom been more intense.
With the retirement last year of a legislator who had served as a member of the House of Delegates for 50 years, I became currently the longest-serving member of the House of Delegates. As a member of the minority party in the House, my length of service does not provide me any special privileges or considerations, but it does require me to examine my role as a legislator.
As I told the constituents and friends who assembled to kick off my current campaign, I consider my role in the House of Delegates to do the heavy lifting. Above all, I will serve my constituents as best I can with their individual and community needs and interests before the legislature. I will be leaving the introduction of routine and housekeeping bills to junior members to get their practice in law making.
When I say “heavy lifting,” I mean taking on the difficult and challenging issues that, while divisive, need resolution. I need to be clear to voters and to my fellow legislators my positions on issues that have evolved over many years of dealing with them. For issues to be resolved, all sides need to be clearly articulated, something I am generally able to do.
I will continue to speak out on the need to expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to the working poor. Not only will it bring about $5 million dollars a day of Virginia taxpayer monies back to the state, but it will free up about $200 million of state monies that are spent on items that would be covered by Medicaid. I want those extra millions spent on education, including the expansion of preschool programs — one of the best investments in the future a government can make.
I will work for greater public safety by supporting measures to keep guns out of the hands of violent individuals and criminals while respecting the Second Amendment. My work to end discrimination based on sexual orientation will continue as will my efforts to establish a nonpartisan, independent redistricting commission.
The state needs to take action to protect our shorelines and respond to the challenges of sea level rise. I am prepared to do this kind of heavy lifting in the legislature if voters return me for another term. I am honored to serve and enthusiastic to represent the residents of the 36th District.
Ken Plum represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. His opinion does not represent Reston Now.