Interview With Delegate Kenny Alexander, Part 1

As we wrote on Friday, today we are posting the first of two parts of an interview with Delegate Kenny Alexander (D-89, Norfolk). We hope you enjoy it, let us know what you think, and return tomorrow around this time for part two. Delegate Alexander, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy General Assembly schedule for this interview. You are the third elected official to take questions from us and the first Democrat. We hope some of your colleagues won't give you too much grief over it. : - ) By the way, you've already been mentioned in our Capital Square Diary this session.

So our readers will get to know you better, tell us why you got involved in public life, who were your political influences, and how would you describe your political philosophy?

Delegate Kenny Alexander: My grandmother took me to work in campaigns in the city of Norfolk — at the local level — as a volunteer working outside polling places handing out literature and putting up yard signs. Later, my father got me involved delivering chairs and tents — we are in the funeral business — for campaigns. And my grandmother was the secretary of our church and the church had a non-partisan political action committee. Politicians often called the church or the political parties called and asked to speak, so I had first-hand knowledge of when they were coming and read the literature of both parties.

I am a moderate. I think I am progressive on social issues and conservative on fiscal issues. If you put those two together, progressive and conservative, I think that makes me a moderate. I believe in small government. It should only intervene when the free market and capitalism doesn't work. It should intervene when there is evidence of abuses and for matters of law and order.

I think taxes and fees should be limited and when imposed should be allocated for core services. Just in that respect, I am very conservative on many issues. Many people think organizations such as The Family Foundation and Democrats cannot work together. Although we won't agree on all issues, you and several other Democrats are examples of how we can work together on certain issues. What are some of the areas and issues where you think we have common ground and can work together?

Delegate Alexander: Pay day lending. I'm proud I was to be able to be on the same side of the payday lending issue. I was proud to be on the same side of The Family Foundation on the "Share The Ride Bill."

There are some other social issues we can work on together, such as monies for trauma centers — an increase in funding for Virginia's 13 or 14 trauma centers. Both agreed they could be better funded. Religious liberty is another area.

On pro-life bills, I strongly believe the government should not intervene when it comes to certain medical decisions. In my opinion, it's a matter of personal choice. For my family — my wife and I have two great boys — we would not make that decision. What is the number one issue facing Virginia families and/or the general social/cultural climate right now?

Delegate Alexander: Parenting is the number one problem, and children who are attracted to gangs and violence, and who display unacceptable social behavior. The breakdown of the family has caused children to find conflict outside of the home that leads to violence, crime and drugs. That's an assault on the family, these social ills and vices. Last year there was a funny moment where you saw one of our lobbyists in an elevator and complained about your rating on our 2004-2005 scorecard. You said your pastor got on you for not having a higher rating. But on our 2006-2007 you had a 55 rating, the eighth highest of House Democrats. Is your pastor taking it easy on you now?

Delegate Alexander: Ha! Ha! That's actually not my pastor, the Rev. Calvin Duncan, but I call him pastor because he's a friend of mine. When I was sworn in as president of the Civic League he presided over my swearing in. He knew me before I was elected and knows I have strong family values. He knows I am a churchman. I practice and am active in my church. So I guess he wanted me to display those same values in my voting record. When you are elected, your values and convictions don't change. But I represent a district. We are not a real democracy. We are a representative democracy. So I look at the totality of my district: It has the largest Jewish population — all three synagogues in the area are in my district; the largest Orthodox Greek community in Hampton Roads is in my district; and the largest mosque.

So, knowing that, understanding that although I'm a practicing Christian, I understand this is a district that elected me to be its representative. In any vote, I have to be reflective of people who elected me. I also have the largest private schools in my district and I have the largest public schools in my district. Norfolk Christian and Norfolk Collegiate are in my district. In addition to that, three of the five public high schools are in my district.