Wow, lots of news today…first Sen. Whipple and now Del. Pollard (D-99th) announce that they are retiring. Here’s his statement, including some interesting thoughts (including about how “we are at a severe disadvantage compared to lobbyists”) and advice on the “flip.”
When I first ran in 1999 I said that it was my hope to serve a total of six to ten years.
My first time in the House of Delegates I served six years and this cycle I served four, therefore, I will not be seeking re-election this year.
I feel comfortable that I could win re-election (particularly with five opponents and this year’s late August primary date), but one shouldn’t run for office just because you can win.
This is public service and I simply have no desire make this my career.
You run to serve – and I have served now for ten years. My decision is really that basic.
Mr. Speaker, since I didn’t give a speech last time, I get to give one for twice as long this time…
3 pieces of advice.
My first piece of advice. We talk a lot about what the constitution means, how far governmental powers go, what is the proper role of government… but throughout this conversation we ignore the elephant in the room of a better Republic.
The elephant in the room of a better Republic, Mr. Speaker, are the political parties in general and caucuses specifically.
Nowhere in the Constitution are parties created… and certainly the founders did not have caucuses in mind…
And why are they injurious to the Commonwealth and to the Republic?
Because political parties and caucuses are as often about power as about doing what is right…
Everyone here – including myself – has seen their caucus engineer a vote designed to embarrasses… or engineer getting a bill killed so the other side doesn’t get credit… or has killed a measure as “retribution”.
Forcing embarrassment. Denying credit. Retribution. These are not the words of Christian Charity or words that make a more perfect union… and they are the words designed to help the very political parties which George Washington (born in my District, before he move to Stafford or closer to the beltway) the very political parties George Washington warned against and are never mentioned in our founding documents.
My second piece of advice is unto the first…
Work the floor. Work the floor. As members of this body, we are at a severe disadvantage compared to lobbyists.
Just think about it.
Eight lobbyists for every Delegate.
They have a half dozen bills – we have twice that many.
They have people on hired to work both sides of the aisle – we handicap ourselves through our own political labels.
They have spending accounts. We have none.
They have a constituency of one, we have many constituencies.
We have other jobs, this is their job.
They represent an interest which might include good public policy… Their duty is not to our constituents or the free market – instead it is to their client or their shareholder.
So – and I was talking about this a couple of years ago with former Delegate Clarke Hogan – our best tool, really one of our only tools… is our time on the floor, in this chamber, working our bills, trying to kill other bad bills.
If you aren’t maximizing your time on the floor talking with your colleagues and working your bills then you are ceding your elected authority to every other member and every other lobbyist.
If you aren’t working your ideas… or if you are only talking to your party – to your own caucus – then you are putting your ideas at a competitive disadvantage.
We work in the best building in the world. This capital — designed by Jefferson, inspire by Roman ideals – is our office…
This capital is Monument to the American Ideal that the world can be a better place.
And, yet, we pay it little respect – we exit through the steps.
We scurry home through the basement, like mice in the catacombs
My final piece of advice is this. Every now and then, exit through the double doors. Walk through the rotunda, and do not walk on the North Side of Washington’s statue.
Do not pass by Washington’s back.
Walk on the South side of Washington, walk at his feet and at the feet of other great Virginians… and take, if only for a few fleeting moments every week, a moment to reaffirm why we are here, what we are doing to fulfill our own faith and reason for being — and what we are doing to make the lives of everyday Virginians, even better.