71°Mostly Cloudy

Del. Ken Plum: A Matter of Style

by Del. Ken Plum January 25, 2018 at 10:15 am 14 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.

The experiences of the Virginia colonists with King George III taught them a lesson not forgotten even until today. Executive authorities are not to be trusted. Monarchies are likely to try to take away the people’s rights and property. The assertions of the Declaration of Independence were to make it clear that the people of America had sworn off monarchial government. They were not about to replace a king with a president or a government who might try to exert the kind of absolute executive power they had under the king.

Instead, controls were incorporated in the U.S. Constitution as well as state constitutions to keep the executive authority in check. Virginia’s limitations on the governor were especially limiting. For example, the governor’s term was one year. He could run for re-election more than once, but likewise he could be turned out after just one year. We have loosened up somewhat in modern times by extending the term to four years, but there is a limitation of one consecutive term.

The governor can run for an additional term, but it cannot be consecutive with the first. I think the one-term limitation is unnecessarily restrictive and have voted more than once to allow the governor to run for a second consecutive term. One term may keep a governor under control, but it can also limit his or her effectiveness.

Governor Terry McAuliffe was a high-energy, strongly motivated, hard-charging governor whose accomplishments exceeded those of his predecessors. He accepted the fact he had just one term, and he worked energetically to get all he could done in the relatively short four-year term. He pushed the legislature to get things done, and he did not hesitate to use executive authority when necessary.

He was taken to court by the Republicans for restoring citizenship rights to those who had been incarcerated, but he won and restored citizenship rights to 172,000 ex-felons. He brought about a New Virginia Economy of high employment, job growth, and attractiveness to those seeking to locate a company here.

Governor Ralph Northam who served under the shadow of Governor McAuliffe as lieutenant governor was always recognized as being extremely able but without the show of high-energy and flair of the Governor. No one questioned his ability, but it was widely concluded that he would bring a different style to the governorship. Most expected a mild-mannered, cordial leader who would govern more by consensus.

Clearly the styles are different, but there may have been a bit of selling short Governor Northam because of his easy Eastern Shore manner. His inauguration speech as well his first speech to the General Assembly were anything but mild or equivocal. They were as strong and as direct as any that Governor McAuliffe delivered. Calling upon his background as a physician, he built a hard case for the expansion of health services to the people in need in the Commonwealth. He is as direct as anyone I have heard speak about the need for common-sense gun control measures. He is emphatic in his defense of women’s reproductive rights.

We may not have a second term for the governor in Virginia, but we have a governor taking over who is going to continue the policies of his predecessor. The difference in the two will simply be a matter of style.

  • The Constitutionalist

    Term limits should be required for all politicians. Including delegates. Our country was founded on the idea that being a politician was not to be a career, and it was to be done for little or no pay, ideally by a volunteer, someone nominated by the people to represent the people’s views. Not, as you do, to force their own.

    Restoring “citizenship” to those 172,000 felons was, quite literally, just an automated way to garner more votes for your agenda. You aren’t even fooling your own followers at this point. When McAullife “won”, everyone lost.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      it also meant that the country was run by the wealthiest men in their communities, because a person with a modest income probably couldn’t afford the pay cut for public service.

  • King Ken

    “The experiences of the Virginia colonists with King George III taught
    them a lesson not forgotten even until today. Executive authorities are
    not to be trusted. ”

    Interesting. The revolutionaries fought the British barefoot in the snow and basically won the fight over taxation. Now we have more taxes than ever before and more to come, “expansion of health services” just to name one.

    So much for building trust. Thanks Ken.

  • SuperCoop1280

    Mr. speaker: You seem to keep “ducking” my question on how your office will handle representing more people if the County passes the population density increase for Reston. Have you weighed in on the matter seeing you would have more people to represent in the House of Delegates?

    Thank you.

  • Rational Reston

    “Governor Terry McAuliffe was a high-energy, strongly motivated, hard-charging governor whose accomplishments exceeded those of his predecessors.”

    This is a narrow view, I think there are a lot of Virginians who would laud the accomplishments of Governor Warner who may not rank high with Del. Plum because Gov. Warner liked to talk to those across the aisle and reach compromises.

    Gov. McAuliffe has seemingly only succeeded in creating record toll prices.

    • The Constitutionalist

      The only thing high energy about McAullife was his veracity at McDonalds.

      • 40yearsinreston

        And collecting for the Clintoons

  • Mike M

    “[C]ontrols were incorporated in the U.S. Constitution . . .”

    Yes, Ken! Term limits are one. My favorite is the Second Amendment! Despite the first line of your article, you seem to have “forgotten” this one even though it is right under freedom of speech in the Bill of Rights! You hypocrite!

  • 40yearsinreston

    Mr speaker (small ‘s’) is the best argument for extending term limits to the assembly

    McAullife is a Billary bag man who will soon be forgotten

  • 40yearsinreston

    Another biased ‘history’ lesson from the superannuated school teacher

  • drb

    One term for the Governor is just fine. It would be helpful if it were the same for the delegates and senators.
    I thought Ken was always touting that he was a history teacher once upon a time. Why then does he look so uneducated when he talks history in these forums?
    Why does he always use the expression of “common-sense gun control measures”? When he means take the guns from us and let criminals have them and then let them vote on taking our guns from us. That part of the Constitution doesn’t make it into his oped for some reason.
    Again, Ken is talking about expanding health care services and not talking about taxing us to pay for it.
    Come on now Ken. A little honesty would be helpful and a change.

  • drb

    I do have one other question. What was it that McAuliffe did that “brought about a New Virginia Economy of high employment, job growth, and attractiveness to those seeking to locate a company here.”???

  • Reston Realist

    Ken, unless you are trying to give us a lame US history lesson, there is no point to this article… Why do we care if Ralph Northam has a laid back style and is in contrast to that of the Chicago Interloper? I’m too lazy to do the research, but I think our job growth under TM was pretty tepid compared to the previous years….

  • OneReally

    Ken P there is nothing common sense about any of your ideas.

    Your old and so is your agenda.

    Please retire!

×

Subscribe to our mailing list