Thursday, September 16, 2010

Virginia Gentleman Interviews Delegate Steve Landes

Delegate Steve Landes represents the 25th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, which includes the City of Waynesboro and portions of Albemarle, Augusta, and Rockingham Counties. Steve is serving his eighth term in the House. He is a Member of the House Education, Appropriations, Rules, and Privileges and Elections Committees.

VG: In Northern Virginia it seems all our politics revolves around the issue of
transportation, is there a dominant issue in your part of the State?

SL: The dominant issue in the Western portion of the Commonwealth is the economy and jobs. I would also say the massive federal government spending is of concern to the citizens I have the honor of representing as well, including the so called Health Care Reform legislation.

VG: I noticed from your Bio that from 1988 to 1992, you served as a legislative
assistant to former Delegate A.R. “Pete” Giesen, Jr, has the House of Delegates
changed much since then. If so what is the biggest difference you have noticed?

SL: The House of Delegates is an institution that is constantly changing as the individuals who serve as Members change, but we still hold to the traditions of Virginia and in particular of the House of Delegates. The biggest difference is that the issues have become more complicated, and there are more pieces of legislation. Luckily we have put the brakes on the increasing number of bills with limits and deadlines, which is a good thing.

VG: When you first came to Richmond A.L. Philpot was speaker. He seems like one
of the last powerful speakers, did you get an impression of him. Any stories
about him you care to relate?

SL: I do remember Speaker Philpot; he was an intimidating figure, but also a good legislator and a dedicated Virginian. I can still see him smoking his pipe in the House Chamber from the Speaker seat at the front of the Chamber. I would say that Speaker Wilkins and Speaker Howell, in different ways, have maintained the power of the Speaker’s role, and upheld the best traditions of the House of Delegates, and reformed our institution to be more efficient and cost effective, and as a Republican I’m proud of that, and both of them.

VG: Do you have a political hero?

SL: I have three political heroes – Governor Patrick Henry, President Theodore Roosevelt and President Ronald Reagan. In addition, I consider former Delegate Pete Giesen and Congressman Bob Goodlatte as my political and legislative mentors.

VG: How will Obama do in the 25th legislative district in 2012?

SL: It is my opinion if the President continues moving the federal government toward a socialist posture he will lose big in the district I represent. The vast majority of the citizens I represent to not like the direction the country has been taken, and more importantly that the so called Obama “stimulus” has not improved our national economy.

VG: Do you have any plans to run for statewide office?
My wife and I have a eight-year-old son, so until he graduates from High School and get’s into college I have no plans to run for statewide office, even though I’ve been encouraged by some. I would not rule out running statewide, but I don’t see that in my immediate future. I enjoy serving the people of the 25th House District and the citizens of the Commonwealth.

VG: Do you have an opinion on the Governor's proposal to privatize ABC stores?

SL: At this point I am keeping an open mind regarding Governor McDonnell’s ABC privatization plan. As a free-market, pro-business individual I understand and like the concept of the state not being in the business of selling distilled spirits. But, as a fiscal conservative I have some concerns with how the dollar figures work for filling the gap we must if we do privatize. We either make additional cuts, or the dollars will come in as is projected. In addition, the Governor’s plan calls for some additional taxes to accomplish his projections as I understand it, and I’ve not generally supported higher taxes on our citizens.

VG: What motivated you to run for public office?

SL: I was motivated to run for office because my parents, both my father and mother, encouraged all their children to give something back to our community, and they demonstrated that by being involved in our church, in organizations, and in service at the state and local levels. My father was on the former State Highway Commission representing the Staunton District, now known as the Commonwealth Transportation Board. My mother was a member of the Valley Community Services Board representing Augusta County. In addition, my mother and father were very involved in the Republican Party, so I got to attend my first Republican State Convention as a Delegate in 1978 in Richmond.

VG: I know education is an important issue for you. What are a few changes that
you would like to see the state adopt that could improve education?

SL: As a parent of a third grader, and as a member of the House Education Committee for over 10 years now, I’d like to see us encourage and promote Math and Science in our schools, and we may need to revise and update our Standards of Learning to do that. Virginia and the United States must do this if we are to be the leaders in the Global Economy for the future. At the same time we need to continue to emphasize civics and our system of government so our young people understand what it means to be a Virginian and a U.S. Citizen. Career and Technical Education need to be more aligned with our Workforce Training efforts for the jobs of the future as well.

VG: Thanks for talking with me.

SL: You are Welcome.

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