I have been struck as of late by the columns written by Virginia delegates representing different parts of the Heart of Virginia. In the past, we haven’t ran them as frequently on our opinion page, and I had not been in the habit of reading them. But as I have read over them recently, I am impressed with the insight into the current legislative process that the delegates provide.
I am also impressed with the degree to which they are actively seeking our input. Of course, I’m familiar with the phrase, “Call your congressman!” when a controversial bill gains traction in the media. But in my personal experience, I feel like I’ve rarely heard our representatives be the ones to say, “Call me,” or “Visit me,” and certainly not on a recurring basis with regard to whatever legislation happens to be in discussion, controversial or not.
And yet, our delegates have been doing that regularly in their columns, even inviting people to stop by their offices, if for no other reason than to just say, “Hello.”
I realize it is good politics for them to say such things in a column disseminated to the public by the media, but it still opens a very real door for their constituents — one that we should use more often. And the delegates seem pretty genuine about the invitations, even going so far as to list the names of the people who have stopped by their offices in their columns, no doubt encouraging more people to stop in.
I feel like many politicians are people who have a lot of exposure during election season, but after we elect them, by comparison, it seems like they disappear, until we hear, after the fact, about legislation they’ve been involved with. (The exception to this, again, would be the controversial bills that get a lot of play in the media.)
But what I’ve learned is that our representatives are making an effort to stay on our radar and to get our input even during the legislative process.
In one of his recent columns, Del. Tommy Wright indicated further efforts toward transparency.
“I, along with my Republican colleagues, passed a rules package that expands the existing rule on proportional representation and required the House to utilize electronic voting equipment to record votes in committee and subcommittee,” he wrote. “The House will also livestream all committee meetings as announced in 2017. The House unanimously approved these changes. I take public access to the legislative proceedings seriously.”
I commend delegates from both sides of the aisle for seriously aiming to get us involved in government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Titus Mohler is the sports editor for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@KVDispatch.com.