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Commentary: Back Home

With the adjournment of the General Assembly session on Feb. 23 I am back home in Reston, but my legislative duties for the year are far from being over. Following the Saturday conclusion of the annual session, on Sunday morning I moved from the furnished apartment I had leased for most of January and February. I was living in Richmond in an apartment house that was built at the edge of the falls of the James River and was there long enough to develop a daily routine. I got up each morning by 5 a.m. and took the elevator down eight floors for my morning exercise (not strenuous enough to be called a work-out). My muesli-yogurt breakfast was accompanied by reading online The Washington Post, Richmond Times Dispatch, emails and Facebook posts. Although my apartment was only about a mile from my office in the General Assembly Building, I drove the distance because of the cold and uncertain winter weather. When I got past Main Street heading south on Tenth Street, Mr. Jefferson’s Temple on the Hill, the State Capitol would come into view. I continue to be in awe of the physical structure of the State Capitol and amazed at the actions that take place in it by the people’s elected representatives.

I was usually in my office by eight, and many lobbyists who know of my early work habits would put me first on the list to see. Lobbyists, like politicians, are not highly regarded, but they do perform a valuable service in providing information based on their client’s perspective. It is up to me as a legislator to determine wherein the public is best served from the different points of view I receive. When in Richmond I am always glad to see residents of my district who come to visit me. The days are filled with committee meetings and the daily floor sessions. I usually would leave the office by six and attended receptions and dinners sparingly in the evening.

Now that I am back home I have to drive to the gym for my exercise, but I look forward to when I will start walking on the paths each day as the weather gets warmer. In my district office in my home I take care of correspondence and constituent concerns. Yesterday I sent a letter to the governor expressing my concern about the fee on hybrid vehicles in the transportation legislation. I will go back to Richmond on April 3 for the Reconvened Session to deal with any vetoes the governor may have made on any legislation we passed. Throughout the year I go to Richmond or other locations a couple of times a week for meetings. I will be continuing to devote a lot of time to my position as chairman of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association. I will be working on issues for the next legislative session including my strong concern about gun violence.

Being a “citizen legislator” is supposed to be a part-time job, but for me it is full-time year round. The work in Richmond is intense and difficult. The work on behalf of my constituents is very fulfilling, and it is back home! Call on me if I can ever be of assistance to you—kenplum@aol.com.