Tuesday, Virginia and the General Assembly lost one of the good guys of Virginia politics (see The Daily Press). Not because of anything sad, thankfully, but because Delegate Glenn Oder (R-94, Newport News) resigned his seat, effective August 31, to accept the position as executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority, the body which will oversee the transition of the historic Peninsula property from the U.S. Army to the state and, possibly, National Park Service. As a landscape architect by trade, he called the opportunity an "architect's dream." Delegate Oder is a true gentleman and a true friend of social conservatives, defending life, marriage and the traditional values we hold dear. Grounded in faith, you know where he stands and his word meant it would get done. His effectiveness might not always have grabbed screaming statewide headlines, but he became an influential member of the House of Delegates and having him as an ally often was the key to getting good legislation passed and bad legislation stopped dead in its tracks.
Lawmakers tend to specialize in certain areas, but Delegate Oder would surprise you with his depth and breadth of knowledge on several fronts — from transportation to housing to predatory lending. As an architect, he understands the value of property and is a staunch defender of private property rights. Not sure who can help on a particular issue? Most likely, he could and do it extraordinarily well. So well, in fact, The Family Foundation named him Legislator of the Year in 2009, primarily for his leadership on passing pay day lending legislation into law, an issue that didn't win supporters many friends from either end of the political spectrum.
As we move into the next phase of conversion of Fort Monroe over to the Commonwealth, it is essential that the next head of the Fort Monroe Authority is a proven leader and visionary who is personally vested in its success. Delegate Glenn Oder fills all of these attributes. Glenn is a highly-respected member of the House of Delegates, who has enthusiastically served Newport News since 2002. ... I know he will effectively lead the conversion of Fort Monroe from a military base to an important historic site for people across the Commonwealth and the country to visit and learn about our nation’s history for many years to come.
Now, not only is another one of the good guys gone, the House itself will experience at least one more new face in a cycle of almost unprecedented turnover. Since the 2009 election, there has been about a 22 percent turnover in the House due to retirements, defeat at the polls and resignations for health reasons, to take conflicting jobs or election to other offices. After this November, with several retirements already in the books, that number easily will top 30 percent with inevitable defeats. Who said things never change in Virginia? Coe January, there will be plenty of dog-eared pages in red facebooks lobbyists use to identify General Assembly members and staff.
Meanwhile, the race immediately picks up to replace him, with the GOP choosing an unusual method of candidate selection (see The Daily Press). We wish Delegate Oder the best in his new endeavors and echo the sentiment that Fort Monroe's future is in good hands, but also acknowledge the House will feel a bit empty now. We look forward to that treasure becoming more accessible and enjoyable for all Virginians.