I now live and work in Richmond weekdays for the annual General Assembly session. I will be in the Capital City until at least March 11. Joining me and the other 99 delegates and 40 senators will be an entourage of nearly 1,000 lobbyists, many of whom live in the Richmond area year-round.
Some have likened our quick movement into the city and our sudden departure two months later to be like a circus that comes to town. While I do not particularly like the imagery such a comparison evokes, I do have to admit that we do come and go pretty quickly with some entertainment in the meantime.
My trip to Richmond each Sunday evening or early Monday morning takes two hours. It is a reverse commute going opposite the thousands of cars that creep up I-95 in the mornings. My return to Northern Virginia late Friday evening is also against the heavy traffic of people who commute to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. for employment but who live in Woodbridge, Dale City, Stafford, and other areas further south with more affordable living. My leaving and returning via the Fairfax County Parkway and Route 123 to I-95 takes me out of some of the worst traffic in the corridor.
The state provides a per diem for legislators who live outside the capital region
to pay living expenses. This year I am staying in the former John Marshall Hotel, which has been renovated into apartments.
In the middle of the last century, the John Marshall was the scene for social events in Richmond. As the center of the city declined, its business, along with that of Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimer’s department stores, went to the suburbs. The Hotel had been closed for many years before the conversion to apartments, which just came on the market. I walk the couple of blocks to the General Assembly Building located at the corner of 9th and Broad Streets. I am generally in my office before 8 a.m. daily.
There are many more social events in the evenings hosted by interest groups and
lobbyists than anyone could ever attend. There is little or no hard lobbying that takes place at these events. They are viewed more as opportunities to meet and greet. They are scheduled around breakfast or dinner, as being times that legislators might be available from office hours, committee meetings, and floor sessions. No lunchtime events are scheduled, as the General Assembly goes into session at noon most days.
Please call my office with your concerns and questions. My local office number, 703-758-9733, rings in my Richmond office with no additional charge to you. Or send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org; hardly anyone uses snail mail any more.
If your schedule permits, please visit me any weekday; I would be pleased to show you around as time permits. The historic Capitol has been restored to Jefferson’s original design and has been expanded with underground meeting spaces. Come experience some of the legislator’s life in Richmond!