In addition to Rep. Elijah Cummings’ tragic death yesterday, which we are all mourning greatly, Virginia lost an important political figure as well yesterday – former Virginia Delegate, former House Democratic Caucus Chair and former Democratic Party of Virginia Chair, Alan Diamonstein. According to his Wikipedia entry:
“Diamonstein served from 1968 to 2002 in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing parts of Newport News. From 1982 to 1985, he was state party chair. Diamonstein chose not to run for reelection in 2001, instead seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. He came in second to Richmond mayor Tim Kaine, who would go on to win in the general election.”
In 2001, Diamonstein was named “Daily Press Citizen of the Year,” for being not just a “power broker par excellence,” but the fact that “the beneficiaries of his political savvy are ordinary people: children in public schools, moderate-income families who dream of owning a home, students at Virginia colleges, parents caring for retarded children.” The Daily Press added:
“Ask Alan Diamonstein what he is proudest of and his answer is deceptively simple, ‘I was able to make a difference.’…The common thread that runs through Diamonstein’s legislative record is a conviction about what good government should do: It should provide the services citizens need to lead lives that are healthy, useful and gratifying. Among those services are Diamonstein’s signature issues: quality education, affordable housing, responsive mental health services and vibrant cultural institutions…Diamonstein was such an advocate for Christopher Newport University that he earned the nickname ‘Mr. CNU’… K-12 education was also a Diamonstein priority…Nowhere is Diamonstein’s statewide reach more apparent than in housing…For three decades, Diamonstein watched out for a group that doesn’t have much visibility or clout but is close to his heart: people with mental retardation…Don’t expect Alan Diamonstein to slip quietly away. His plans: ‘to spend a lot of time with my family, to practice law, and to continue to help others whenever they think my experience will be helpful to them. I won’t participate in the legislative process formally, but I have no intention of not making my feelings known. I have a lot of experience, and I want to use it.'”
A consequential life which made a difference for the better for so many Viriginians – that’s definitely a life worth living and a life worth celebrating. See below for Virginia House Democratic Leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn’s Facebook post, which points out that Diamonstein’s “dedication to the party and to moving Virginia forward never wavered” and that “[t]he Commonwealth is a better place because of Alan.” In this time of corrupt demagogues like Donald Trump, who look out above all for themselves, it’s great to know that there are also people – and leaders – like Alan Diamonstein. Thanks for all you did, sir; rest in peace.