With the change in partisan control of the House of Delegates, members will find themselves having different roles. The Democratic Speaker of the House and the first woman and first Jewish person to be speaker will lose her position to a new speaker elected by the majority Republican caucus. At the time of writing this column the rumor is that Delegate Todd Gilbert who represents a part of the Shenandoah Valley will be the new speaker. The Speaker of the House has total control over appointing members to committees. Too often including in the recent past the practice has been to take members of the minority party off the key committees on which they may have had the most influence. The shuffling of members on committees has been a way for the majority to solidify its power.
The way in which the transition of power has been handled in the past by both parties has led to many inefficiencies in the legislative process. Rather than a continuous process responding to the needs of the Commonwealth there have been many fits and starts that delay needed legislative action.
Of course, the winning party always wants to assert its power. I understand that “to the victors go the spoils.” But much of what the legislature does should not be partisan. Virginians showed again in this election cycle that they are not clearly blue or red. No Democrat celebrated more than I did the transformative actions taken by the legislature over the past two years. Hopefully the new governor and the new House leadership will not throw out all that work and start over. We can build on those things for which there are areas of agreement.
I will be pleading with the new administration that we view the next several months as time to look at reforms in the process on which we can agree. We need not spend time on seeking revenge on those who have been in office in the past. The winners in such an approach will be the people of Virginia and not a single political party.