Home Politicians Tales from the Southside

Tales from the Southside


( – promoted by lowkell)

Today it's easy to be consumed with doom and gloom. As someone who spent the last week in Bedford doing GOTV for Tom, the combination of sleep-deprivation and election results is certainly pushing me toward that end. But it's important to remember that the world hasn't ended, and that the work goes on.

Tom has spoken time and again of "people-powered politics." I want to use this opportunity to pull together stories of the people who powered the work in the 5th District the last two years. Someone you drove to the polls. The first-time voter (or first-time Democrat). The veteran who is getting workforce training thanks to Tom's work in Washington. Who were these folks?

One of my stories is after the jump.

I was stationed in Altavista for GOTV. It's an old industrial town that still has two distinct sides of the tracks. On Saturday, while I canvassed, one of the houses on my street was Miss Ruby. She was sitting on the porch of her small ramshackle house across from one of the factories. As I walked up, she cast a suspicious eye on me, right up until I said I was with the Perriello campaign.

I began working through my canvassing script, but realized that Miss Ruby really just wanted someone to talk to. We started chatting about how Altavista had changed, and she told me all about growing up on a farm before moving into town. The youngest daughter in a family of 8, she began working a mule-driven plow when she was 16 to keep food on the family table. As she got older, she started working in the garment and furniture factories that used to be the economic drivers in this part of the Commonwealth.

After 30 years at the Lane Furniture plant in Altavista, she nearly lost her hand in an accident with a power sander. The doctors amputated her index finger, but because it was her right hand she wouldn't let them take the whole thing. A few months after surgery, she suffered serious burns up and down her right side. She missed voting for Tom the first time around because she'd been hospitalized again in 2008. All she had in the world was her $225 a month pension, and her Social Security checks. Miss Ruby'd led a tough life.  

Tom's double shift was what got her to the polls. Spending every weekend in the district, talking to his constituents, making jobs his #1 priority: that was what made him Miss Ruby's representative. What Tom got done in two years kept her Social Security checks coming, kept a roof over her head, and kept her from becoming a victim of the next Great Depression.  

Thanks, Tom. Keep fighting the good fight.

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