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Del. Ken Plum: Accepting the Election Outcome

by Del. Ken Plum — October 27, 2016 at 1:00 pm 16 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

I am currently the longest serving member of the Virginia House of Delegates. My license plate that has only “1” on it is the subject of many stares and the occasional “How did you get that number?” I have been in office continuously since 1980. I served one term prior to that time, but seniority is counted by continuous service.

I was a candidate for office twice before I was elected. I first ran for the House of Delegates in 1973 and again in 1975. Both times I came close, but close does not count in elections.

I ran in what was the 18th legislative district which encompassed half of Fairfax County, Fairfax City and the Towns of Herndon and Vienna, which were represented by five at-large delegates.

When the Commonwealth of Virginia was forced by the federal government to reapportion the legislature to conform to the “one-man, one-vote” principle, Fairfax had a population equivalent to ten legislative districts. Rather than dividing up the county into individual districts, the legislature drew a line down the center of the county creating two districts with five at-large delegates each.

While such an approach made life a little easier for those drawing the legislative boundaries, it imposed a real hardship on those seeking office, including myself. The federal courts eventually declared multi-member districts to be unconstitutional, and Virginia went to single-member districts.

My lack of success in my two first attempts to be elected to office was disappointing, but I understood the uphill challenge I faced — I had very limited name recognition, and I had even fewer dollars. Even though I literally wore holes in the soles of my shoes campaigning door to door, covering the equivalent of five districts in a person-to-person campaign was impossible. I congratulated the winners and kept on working.

It never crossed my mind that I lost because the elections were somehow rigged; they were not. Nor did I refuse to accept the outcome. Of course I learned a lot with every election cycle and continue to do so even to today. For one thing the two-year House of Delegates term keeps me close to my constituents. I think there are changes that could be made that would make the system more democratic for voters, and I work to bring about those changes, but I have never felt that the perceived shortcomings of the system were somehow thwarting my ambitions.

Of course, there is a great deal of difference between a campaign for the House of Delegates and a presidential campaign. With so much at stake, I am concerned about the continued denigration of the system on the part of one candidate who would want us to believe that the system is somehow rigged against him; it is not. There are losers in every election; accept the outcome.

My experience is that voters appreciated my willingness to hang in there and to keep working for the values I believe in. Our system may not be perfect, but it continues to be the best in the world. We cannot let likely sore losers do anything to detract from it.

  • One Really

    When I see this picture. I think term limits please. Enough of the career Politicians.

  • John Higgins

    Thirty-six years of continuous public service. Agree with the man or not, one has to respect that commitment.

    It is somewhat more difficult to respect how our political system is now functioning. Who determines our representative in Congress, the General Assembly and Board of Supervisors? As near as I can tell, it is a handful of people behind the scenes who offer us unopposed candidates. And they call it an election process?

    At the national level we saw one party mud wrestling to select a presidential candidate. At times entertaining, at times frustrating and embarrassing. The result disappointing.

    What we did not see (but now learn about) were the other party’s manipulations to limit their supporters’ choices. No entertainment value there, but equally frustrating and embarrassing. And one cannot help but observe how the media shifted from journalism to advocacy.

    There are better words than “rigging” to describe how the current election has been influenced by a miniscule number of powerful, loud, and persuasive voices. Pick a word that does not imply illegality…but let’s not kid ourselves that the process we have allowed to develop leads to selection of the people’s choice. Despite the rhetoric, there will be a non-violent transfer of power in January, at all levels. That does not tell me that there is anything satisfactory about how we select our leaders and representatives.

    • Leila Gordon

      John, I totally agree that Ken’s commitment to service is to be applauded. Regarding the process that leads to the selection of presidential candidates, it’s a process that is dictated by our political parties on each side. And within those parties, each state has its own peculiarities. The cure to whatever ills anyone perceives in these processes is to be involved in the political parties themselves. Unfortunately, very few folks actually do get involved. With respect to term limits, that is a solution that typically creates its own problems. The best practice to effect change in our country is to roll up one’s sleeves and volunteer to participate. Heck, it’s disgraceful how few people as percent of those eligible actually even cast votes, let alone work to change the system they decry. And our national press is too splintered with too many different media perspectives to have the idea of a media campaign against a candidate to have merit. For every political perspective now, there is a media outlet willing to amplify that perspective. Saying this election is rigged is shorthand in my view for saying that it’s not delivering the solution one wants and casting blame on the process instead of considering that the candidate, the platform, the party or the referenda are not to the majority of the voters’ liking. I worry far more about voter suppression, the lack of civic engagement or knowledge evidenced in our citizenry and the inability to accept any version of “facts” that don’t comport with a citizen’s opinion. Those seem far more important to tackle than one election’s end result.

      • One Really

        “Ken’s commitment to service is to be applauded.”

        He isn’t the President of the PTA and a single working Dad of three volunteering his time.

        He gets paid (in tax dollars) for his service.

        • John Higgins

          Indeed, we compensate our representatives well. For the continuous 60-day session away from home, countless hours spent on constituent services, public appearances, and assorted draws on their time, they receive the princely sum of $17,640 per year. It’s a wonder people are not standing in line to land such a cushy deal.

          • Mike M

            It’s a wonder how he can afford it! It’s not like he HAS to do it. So it begs the question.
            But I think there are other payouts too.
            John, are you proposing he does this as a favor to us? It’s not a favor I want from him.

          • One Really

            Per diem @ $185 a day as well.

          • Mike M

            For some reason my allusion to this and other payments was censored.

  • Mike M

    I haven’t “accepted” the outcome of the last four Presidential elections. The system is rigged. But what I accept doesn’t really matter unless I resort to non-electoral means to overturn the system. I’m not there, but I think there are many out there who might be up for that after this election. It would be sad and possibly worse. But the system really is rigged. That’s sad too. Propriety is becoming less appropriate than opprobrium. Don’t get it? Look at the national debt.

  • Jenny Gibbers

    The toughest time no d https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/01e95c32b239c32705789654b08f3085f3209be432765fb3956a1c88e2c39075.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/55935b41ac2f450166dddb64f04d7c2d1e958e068ed0b6eafc2f9c99ccbaa95a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6ea30e6335fc16b2fb98a6879838d786ede4633a9e7e1a17e0d12ba90ccfe48f.jpg oubt for Bernie; as a running mate this would have been the winning ticket by now. Instead i see battle ground states. Aside from the fact that Hillary will never be able to shake Trump, he will be overshadowing her every move.

  • Reston Realist

    Ken, It is clearly time for you to retire…. thanks for all your efforts, but a fresh perspective is needed at this juncture. Unfortunately, the founding fathers did not include term limits in the initial constitutional framework. I guess they never imagined that an individual would want to make a career out of politics. Time to move on my friend.

  • The Constitutionalist

    Ken, I’d have your mindset as well if I lived my whole life on the back of the taxpayer – like a parasite.

  • Farce2016

    Thanks Ken, again well written and peppered with your own insights and reflections that illustrate the savoir faire gathered during 70+ years service to (w♡)mankind.

    Only issue I see here with what you said “our systems may not be perfect but it continues to be the best in the world”. Rather than relying on satisfactory score of freedomhouse.org (a government sponsored entity) I would want to raise issue with your statement because most people would agree that our last bastion of freedom – the election – is in very poor shape here in the US. Most of us have a feeling that things are not going well, and Harvard can actually respond to that with facts. When feelings and facts combine to tell the truth career politicians should take note. Accordingly this is a must read for you, homework so to speak.

    Land of the Free? Harvard Study Ranks America Worst in the West for Fair Elections

    Indeed, the 2016 elections have proven the system so rigged, even those who’d previously still harbored illusions our democracy is fair, have begun to come to terms with the truth: the political establishment’s corporatist plutocrats choose their own to install in the White House every four years.  Hillary Clinton ‘winning’ Wyoming’s primary despite being summarily trounced by Bernie Sanders in the popular vote — with her 44 percent to his 56 percent — simply evidence the latest example of the farcical illusion of choice revealed by EIP. Superdelegates — who aren’t beholden to vote for a candidate according to the popular choice and could potentially sway the nomination — are causing an even greater uproar among Democrats fed up with the establishment’s obvious favorite candidate, Hillary.

    Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/land-free-ranks-dead-west-fair-elections/#lroghJx95cGEFWyR.99

  • You’re Covered,

    Let Ken comfort you in the knowledge that if you give him sweets in this world, he will point you in the right direction in the next.

  • Scott H

    Ken,
    I just received your voter guide in the mail and would like to sum up your positions for your Constituents.

    You are supporting:
    -Hillary Clinton who has amassed a $100M fortune while never having a job outside of government and who lies about lying.
    -Gerry Connolly who takes credit for the Silver Line that is now bilking FFX tax payers because it is fiscally unsustainable.
    -LuAnn Bennett who doesn’t even live in Virginia.

    -You are against a workers right to choose whether they want to be in a union being codified in the state Constitution, leaving it instead to the whim of politicians like yourself
    -You want to give special inheritance tax exemptions to the families of “certain” first responders. While their job is noble, what is different about the family circumstance of a fire fighter’s family killed in a fire, vs a truck driver’s family killed in an accident?
    Instead of carving out special exemptions, maybe you should fight to make the tax code fair for all Virginians.
    -You are FOR the Meals Tax which will take another $100M out of the pockets of local tax payers.
    -You are FOR the approval of $312 Million in bonds

    So to summarize, Ken Plum is for criminals, higher taxes, DC residents representing Virginia in Congress, Less choice for workers, Special-interest tax breaks, higher taxes, and higher taxes.

    Thanks Ken, for once again confirming your positions. It always makes it easier to know how I should not vote.

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