In Congress: A sluggish economy tops concerns of local delegation

Sherry Hamilton and Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Apr 25, 2012 - 04:24 PM

Photo: While a plethora of issues face the men and women who serve in this building, clearly one—the economy—currently dominates the rest. Photos by Quinton Sheppard

While a plethora of issues face the men and women who serve in this building, clearly one—the economy—currently dominates the rest. Photos by Quinton Sheppard

With the still slow-to-recover economy on the forefront of many people’s minds, the Gazette-Journal visited the halls of Congress last week to talk with Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner and Rep. Rob Wittman, the three men who are the voice of Gloucester and Mathews counties in Washington, D.C.

Jim Webb

The first visit was with U.S. Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat, who previously announced he will not be seeking reelection in 2013. When asked why, he said, "There is no magical reason."

Six years ago, he said there was no magical reason that made him decide to run for U.S. Senate to begin with. He said he knew he had to decide nine months before the election and made his decision on Feb. 7, 2006. "I had no staff and no money," Webb said. "And a lot of people were surprised I did."

He said he knew he had to make that same decision by his birthday, Feb. 9, of last year on whether he was going to run for another term. He said he wanted to make sure if he chose not to run that former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who has announced his intentions to run as a Democrat for the seat, would have plenty of opportunity to get his own campaign organized. "I think Tim Kaine will make a great senator," Webb said.

Photo: Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) is shown inside a conference room in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., with his deputy press secretary, Heather Fluit.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) is shown inside a conference room in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., with his deputy press secretary, Heather Fluit.

He said he plans to take a year and see where to go next. The author of many books, Webb said, "I will always write. That’s always been a part of me all of my life."

Webb said six years has been a good amount of time to serve in his capacity as U.S. Senator. "It’s always good to step away and live in the world you help create," Webb said.

Looking back on his Congressional career, he said that "it’s been a very positive experience." He said people have asked him if anything has surprised him. He said nothing about working in the Senate has surprised him. However, the viciousness of the politics when running for office, as well as the money it took to run a campaign, took him aback.

Webb said he hopes to leave as his legacy the three main things he wanted to address when he ran for office. First, he said the U.S. needs to reorient its national security policy and that means reducing our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I do not believe we should be an occupying force in that part of the world," Webb said. "(It also means) reemphasizing our relationships in East Asia, which we work really hard on here. And, redesigning a military for the future. That would be number one. I have worked every day on those issues.”

Second, he said he had wanted to promote economic fairness and social justice. Part of that is reforming the criminal justice system, he said.