by Kim Drew Wright
LWCC Money Bomb Monday*
I first talked to Larry Barnett in February of this year, when he was contemplating running for House District 27. I already knew he was going to be a decent guy because I’d heard stories from my friend, Becky Stuart Conner, of how they had worked together to determine which of them would run for the seat. He had encouraged her to pursue the idea of running, but reassured that if she decided not to then he would be prepared. He didn’t try to intimidate or control her — he did what I’ve grown to love most about him — listened empathetically and planned a course of action to either help her as the candidate or be prepared if needed. Becky had a conflict with work and Larry, true to his word, stepped in and announced his candidacy. Since Larry announced, I have had many conversations with him. He is now the official party nominee.
Once you meet Larry — you can’t not like Larry. He is genuine and his sincerity shines through in his engaging, enthusiastic, and positive manner. You see, Larry is good at communicating because he is excellent at listening — and he always follows through on what he says he will do. At his recent campaign kickoff event, his daughter Eileen spoke about how when she was growing up, her friends would gather at their home and if anyone was stressed they would go to her dad for advice, because they trusted him.
One of the driving forces behind my creation of Liberal Women of Chesterfield County was my anger over the mysoginistic attitudes that got us Trump in the White House. While I want to support female candidates — I have zero qualms about supporting Larry. He listens, he gets it, he is just a flat-out good guy.
LWCC supports Larry Barnett for House District 27 Delegate. Please give to his campaign and help us turn this district blue. With your help he can win, and, let’s face it, we all need this win.
Q & A with Larry Barnett:
Wright: Who was your favorite superhero when you were a kid?
Barnett: My dad. I thought he did amazing things in the Coast Guard. He was a good-hearted man, who was broken in some very appealing ways. He genuinely cared about other people. He taught me a lot about what is important in life, through his example and through his own struggles.
Wright: Who is your favorite superhero now?
Barnett: I have many of them – women and men. I meet superheroes frequently – though most of them don’t know it. My youngest brother, Chris is one of them. He lives in a way that makes life better for many people. I have some friends who are superheroes, but I can’t reveal their identities because they might lose their power.
Wright: What occupation did you want to be when you grew up?
Barnett: When I was very young, I wanted to be in the Coast Guard, like my father. He had stories he would tell about search and rescue operations at sea. It was clear to me, from an early age, that the work was adventurous, and the exciting part was having the ability to make a difference and help others who were in distress or danger. I learned from him that the important thing in life is people being there for other people. We’re supposed to help one another out along the way.
Wright: What occupation did you actually become?
Barnett: During my teen years, I was consumed by my passion for the guitar. I was fascinated by harmony (still am), and various types of music – classical, Brazilian, jazz, popular. I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for a year, then traveled with a band for a year, then worked on a farm before moving to Richmond in 1975. My undergrad from VCU was in music, and l supported myself by teaching, playing gigs and working a variety of other jobs. I taught guitar at the Community Music School at VCU. Through this position, I met a number of students who worked in psychology, social work and the counseling fields. I felt a particular affinity with them, and began exploring studies in this field. I subsequently completed a Master’s in Counseling at VCU, and continued to pursue a doctorate at William & Mary. When marriage and family came along, completing the doctorate took a back seat. However, I learned how to always be open to learning.
Wright: What is your favorite season in VA and why?
Barnett: The fall. I love the blaze of colors before the dormant season arrives. Falls provides a welcome relief after the high heat and humidity of summertime in Richmond. It’s the season that most powerfully reminds me to let go, because the seasons of life are always changing. It’s a time to savor and reflect by an outdoor fire. It’s the best time to hike in the mountains with a friend.
Wright: What is your favorite aspect about your community and the people that live there?
Barnett: The answer is in the question: the people that live there. I am fascinated with people. I can’t resist people who are kind, open, or courageous. I am drawn to people who have experienced great adversity and hurt in their lives. They make me marvel at their capacity to rise above pain and demonstrate resilience in the face of hardship. I am often inspired by other people. I am a life-long student, learning lessons from other people every day.
Wright: What aspect about your community could be improved?
Barnett: The best things in a community grow out of the connections between people. Conversely, I think many of the ailments in our society and community have their roots in disconnection and estrangement. We can do a better job of building our connections to one another, working together on projects in our local communities. A sense of belonging is essential for all of us, and this can be strengthened by breaking down the barriers that separate and divide us.
Wright: Who taught you “wrong from right”?
Barnett: My parents, initially. Mom was a devout Catholic and raised all 8 of us all to clearly know “right from wrong.” The ironclad externally established rules that governed my early life evolved and changed. Experience helped me to discover the shades of grey that fall in between an absolute right and wrong. So much depends on the circumstances of a person’s life. I’ve learned to follow my own compass. I do my best to not cause harm to others. To give people the benefit of the doubt. To not judge others. To remember that we’re all connected.
Wright: What is your favorite book or poem?
Barnett: This is tough. I can’t pick one. Poetry: I like the playful language of e.e. cummings – “what if a much of a which of the wind…” And what’s not to like about Mary Oliver’s poems that celebrate nature? I am drawn to the rich, evocative, musical language in T. S. Eliot’s four quartets and the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (actually, learned this one by memory).
Books: I’ll go with a few recent reads: Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending; the compilation of first-person accounts in Every Father’s Daughter by Margaret McMullan; Natalie Angier’s A Whirligig Tour of the Sciences; and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s books about the cosmos.
Wright: What is your favorite TV show?
Barnett: I am a Stephen Colbert fan. I like his quick wit, his playful delivery, his crackling brain. And, of course, Jon Batiste’s awesome band. It really helps to laugh and find humor in this dark chapter of our nation’s history.
Wright: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Barnett: This is not an accomplishment, but I am really proud of my daughter, Eileen. As a parent, you get to witness – up close – the wondrous unfolding development of another human being. Eileen is a bright shining light: strong, aware, awake, connected. She does her part to make the world a better place.
On a personal level, I am really proud to be part of the Crisis Intervention Training team in Chesterfield. A few of us worked together to launch this program, starting in 2010, and I was honored to serve as the CIT coordinator for the county when I worked at Chesterfield Mental Health. This put me in contact with so many dedicated men and women who respond to people in crisis – often during the worst day of the person’s life. The training helps these professionals make a deeper personal connection with people in distress, assisting them and serving them in a way that is compassionate, respectful, and caring. I believe in this.
Wright: What do you wish to accomplish once you win the House 27 seat?
Barnett: I want to serve as a champion and advocate for those who struggle with addiction and mental health issues. Virginia can do much better, expanding prevention efforts, health-promoting initiatives, and providing immediate access to people who need support and treatment to aid their recovery. This, to me, nests inside a larger context of health care for all Virginians. This is a basic, primary need for all of us, and mental health and wellness is one important aspect of overall health and well-being.
Secondly, I want to bring a more visionary approach to the challenges that lie ahead. Too often, legislative proposals are reactionary and short-term. Guidance for the commonwealth should look far ahead, well beyond the terms served by our representatives. Where do we want Virginia to be in 2050 with renewable energy, care of the environment, vitalization of our communities, education of our young people? We should aim high, look far ahead, and make decisions that will benefit those who come behind us. We should work together for all of Virginia’s children. And their children.
I hope my colleagues and I will work together to bring an end to gerrymandering in Virginia. I hope we will create a climate that makes ALL people feel valued as equal partners in this common wealth. I hope we will move quickly toward equal governmental representation, with many more women and fewer men in leadership positions. It’s 2017, and we’re long overdue for more balanced representation. I hope we help to restore people’s faith, confidence and hope in their government. I want the opportunity to serve.
* When I founded Liberal Women of Chesterfield County (& Beyond) two days after the 2016 presidential election, I had no idea we would grow to over 2,300 likeminded citizens in six months. With a passion and effort I have never seen, we are turning Chesterfield County (& Beyond) blue. We have added LWCC Money Bomb Mondays to our repertoire of actions in support of this goal. Every two weeks we will spotlight one of our candidates. We hope to gain them funding, name recognition, and media attention — oh yeah, and a spot in the Virginia HOUSE.