RICHMOND — Republicans in red, Democrats in blue, whatever your party, there’s a legislator for you. In the midst of state scandal, allegations and vice, we asked Virginia’s state legislators to offer something nice: a love letter to constituents, presented with care, a brief “get to know you,” we introduce in rhymed flair.
So celebrate this Valentine’s with a profile or two — and know that your legislators are crazy for you.
Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach
Let’s prepare for the IT future, work across the aisle
Arcade games and family make me smile
Del. Glenn Davis said he wants to see Virginia ahead of the technological curve, instead of crawling behind industry innovations. “There are a lot of opportunities that we should be embracing as a commonwealth,” Davis said.
Citing cities like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Austin, Texas, that have mimicked California’s Silicon Valley industry, Davis said Virginia should also embrace innovations to attract tech companies to the state.
Despite the pervasive partisan narrative in American politics, Davis said legislators work across the aisle “more often than you’d think.” He said the process of creating a bill is largely unpublicized but often involves lawmakers from both parties.
“You can’t help but have respect for the passion and backgrounds of your fellow lawmakers,” Davis said.
Party differences aside, Davis said the goal of every legislator is the same: “To make Virginia a better place for everyone who lives here.”
Despite what the public may think, Davis said Virginia politicians “are not just stuffed suits.” On a weekend day, Davis said he wears jeans and a sweatshirt and enjoys going out to the movies with his wife. When he can spare a free moment during the session, Davis said his favorite hangout spot in Richmond is The Circuit Arcade Bar in Scott’s Addition.
“My wife’s favorite is Pac-Man. I’m more of a Street Fighters guy, but you can’t go wrong with Skee-Ball,” Davis said.
House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights
We reached out, but he didn’t respond,
So we gathered from his website and moved on
Speaker of the House, the first from Colonial Heights
Tell him your problems, he’ll work to make them right
The Republicans who make up the majority in the House of Delegates were crazy about their colleague Kirk Cox when they unanimously elected him House speaker in 2018. He has represented the 66th House District, which includes Colonial Heights and part of Chesterfield County, since 1990.
As a retired government teacher with 30 years of classroom experience, Cox says on his website that public education is a top priority.
Cox largely credits his legislative successes to you — his constituents — who take the time to express the needs of their district and educate legislators on how to better solve those problems.
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William
Be the change that you wish to see
I’ll work for your rights, so re-elect me
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy said she saw the need for change in her state legislature and set out to fix it by running for office in 2017. According to Carroll Foy, the General Assembly was not working for the “average Virginian,” with disproportionately negative impacts on working families, minorities and women.
Her priorities as a legislator have centered around those pillars, with her dedication to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, reforming Virginia’s criminal justice system and raising the minimum wage.
Carroll Foy said she is running for re-election this year. “I love being able to come to work every day and make positive changes for my constituents … we have a lot of work to do.”
Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler, D-Virginia Beach
I marched into my seat with the best of intentions
I’m here for my constituents and coastline protections
Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler said her political aspirations began after 2016, when she became more engaged in the political scene. After Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, Convirs-Fowler attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., with her daughter, where she said she realized she could make a difference by being a true representative for all citizens, not just the rich and well connected.
“I was inspired, I marched, I ran and I won!” she said in an email.
Convirs-Fowler may like long walks on the Virginia Beach, but said she knows flooding is a huge issue for her coastline district. “I am proud of fighting for the flooding victims in my district,” Convirs-Fowler said. This year she introduced two bills she said would have helped improve Hampton Roads as a region: HB 1879, intended to improve stormwater management, and HB 2175, which sought to protect homebuyers and renters from being stuck with flood-prone properties.
Both of her bills died in committee, but Convirs-Fowler said the Virginia Beach representatives are working beyond party lines to solve their region’s most pressing issue.
“Water doesn’t knock on your door and ask what political party you are in before it comes into your house — without work on both sides of the aisle, we won’t be able to solve this complex problem,” she said.
Convirs-Fowler said that while face-to-face interactions are ideal, the session’s rapid pace can make that unrealistic: “Time is tight!”
Her office does its best to respond to every phone call and letter, Convirs-Fowler said, but “emails are usually the fastest and most efficient way to get us information on bills and issues.”
Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Clarke
Meet me by the fountain for a conversation or two
I’m here to make Virginia a fairer state for you
Amid the session’s hectic pace, Del. Wendy Gooditis said her favorite thing to do is listen to the fountains on the Capitol grounds.
Gooditis said she was inspired to run after the 2016 presidential election.
Gooditis said she has committed her strong work ethic and personal experience to making Virginia a better and fairer commonwealth.
Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax
I’m proud to grant access for medical CBD
Pick up the phone, don’t be shy, call me!
Sen. Dave Marsden said his proudest moment in the General Assembly happened in 2017, when his SB 1027 was passed into law, allowing individuals with intractable epilepsy to use medical cannabidiol oil to treat their symptoms.
“This has been a five-year process and I have been so proud of the citizen lobbyists who have pushed the General Assembly forward on this issue, especially the mothers,” Marsden said in an email.
Marsden said he appreciates every phone call he gets from his constituents.
“It’s one of my most informative ways to get information … and to engage in a dialogue about the challenges and opportunities that we have in the district,” Marsden said. Running for re-election in November, Marsden said he looks forward to four more years of phone calls, conversations and service.
Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach
Keeping you safe, secure and represented
My goal is to have your love apprehended
Del. Jason Miyares wants to make sure you feel safe walking home at night. As a former assistant commonwealth’s attorney, Miyares said one of his top priorities is public safety.
Crime rates in Virginia Beach are the lowest they’ve been since 1964, according to the City of Virginia Beach crime statistics. Miyares said this progress is “thanks to the fantastic men and women serving in public safety.”
Miyares’ mother fled communist Cuba in 1965, penniless but determined to build a life for her family. Instilled with a strong work ethic and willingness to serve, Miyares said, he became the first Cuban-American elected to the Virginia legislature in November 2015.
“Fifty years to the day, my mother was able to vote for her son to serve in the oldest democracy in the western hemisphere,” Miyares said. “There’s a certain majesty to serving in this legislative body that never gets old.”
By Evie King/Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students participating in the program provide state government coverage for Virginia’s community newspapers and other media outlets, under the supervision of Associate Professor Jeff South.