Del. Ken Plum: Mr. speaker – Not Mr. Speaker

by Del. Ken Plum January 18, 2018 at 10:30 am 10 Comments

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

One of the first tasks in a new session of the Virginia General Assembly is to decide who is going to run the show. In the Senate of Virginia, the decision is made by the voters of the Commonwealth when they elect the Lieutenant Governor whose principal duty is to preside over the Senate. In the House, the Speaker of the House is the presiding officer who is elected by the members of the House.

The political party with the most members has control of the House and elects the Speaker. Republicans control of the House is 51 to 49 this session, a sharp drop in the 66-34 control of recent years. The closeness of the balance of power led to some meaningful discussions that should result in more transparency in the operation of the House.

My interest in becoming the presiding officer of the House by being elected Speaker was well known. Once the two disputed delegate elections where decided in favor of the Republicans there was no way I could reasonably expect to win. Only the Republican who had worked in his party and in the legislature for decades was nominated, and he was elected unanimously. That helped the session get underway in a cooperative spirit. There will be ample opportunity for debate when the many bills that reflect the issues before the General Assembly are considered. 

What does a Speaker wannabe do when his party does not gain control of the legislative body? I have decided for myself that if I cannot be the formal Mr. Speaker of the House of Delegates then I can return to my role as Mr. speaker (small “s”) speaking out on tough issues that some may want to duck, and I can speak out on institutional practices that are not transparent or fair.

In this way, I can best serve my constituents and the long-term interest of the Commonwealth. I can also serve as a mentor to the many new exciting members that are joining the House of Delegates, and I can help to reduce any feelings of intimidation they might be experiencing. Certainly the legislature provides experiences that are not replicated in any other role in life.

The techniques of mass communication through phone calls, postcards, rallies, opinion writings, and other practices that were so successful in helping to get candidates elected can be utilized in the legislative process to help influence the outcome of legislation. I have already been seeing groups shifting from advocacy for individual candidates to advocacy for issues. On issues like expansion of health care and independent redistricting, a strong public voice and advocacy are necessary for success.

There will be more opportunities for the public to follow the legislature in real-time this year than ever before. Video streams of meetings of House Full Committees can be accessed online. Download an instruction sheet at Live Stream Instructions.

You can contact me in Richmond by using regular email, [email protected], or by calling my local telephone number 703-758-9733 that will ring in my Richmond office.

File photo

  • OneReally

    “In this way, I can best serve my constituents and the long-term interest of the Commonwealth.”

    You mean your identity politics?
    Your rants about the NRA?
    The need to bend over backwards for illegal immigrants?
    Your desire to expand an entitlement like Medicaid?

    How about you stand up to other locales and bring our money back to Northern VA?

  • 40yearsinreston

    Mr speaker can best help us by doing his job and working for us
    He can ‘mentor’ by resigning and letting someone else take over

  • The Constitutionalist

    Man Ken, you got jokes today!


    “Boo hoo, I lost and now I’m a loser, so I’m going to create a new make believe role just for me so I can tell myself I’m a winner.”

  • SuperCoop1280

    “I can return to my role as Mr. speaker (small “s”) speaking out on tough issues that some may want to duck”

    Mr. speaker: you keep “ducking” on my question about the proposed population density increase and your thoughts? How will you handle the influx of new constituents if passed?

  • 40yearsinreston

    “In this way, I can best serve my constituents and the long-term interest of the Commonwealth.”
    Translation: Best serve myself

  • Having known several Virginia Speakers I think that Delegate Plum would be an excellent one. We need some one in this key position who can represent the best interests of all the people of the commonwealth. Not someone who get the majority of votes from a subset of one political party. Like in DC ever since the Teas elected Ryan we have not had one real budget act signed into law ….more than 10 years. The national government just limps from one budget crisis to another one and spending is not restrained or focused. Itis the result of a subset of one party electing a “Speaker.” So in DC like Richmond a third of the House elects the Speaker and control the overall action which leads to crisis like are coming..and total disorganization of the House of Representative and down in Richmond too…in the House of Delegates..
    And independent and careful speaker would lbe helpful in DC and Richmond. But the clouds are going to open up and America as we know it will be destroyed.

    • The Constitutionalist

      Are we talking about the same Ken? The only interests Ken represents are those of the Communist Party of America and those of whom are not residents in Virginia, but residents of other countries who reside here.

    • 40yearsinreston

      thats good for a laugh
      You should be on comedy channel

    • TheRealMikeSapupello

      What kind of drugs are you on and where can I get some?

      • The Constitutionalist

        The good kind, and Herndon.


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