UVa professor Jeffrey Rossman, one of the Democrats considering tossing their hat into the ring in the 57th House of Delegates race, has decided not to run. He’s one of a half dozen potential candidates who have bowed out, with only former mayor David Toscano running so far. The seat is currently held by Del. Mitch Van Yahres, who has occupied it for 24 years. Rossman’s open letter on his decision can be read below the fold.
An Open Letter from Jeffrey Rossman to Democrats in the 57th District (City of Charlottesville and parts of Albemarle County)
In recent weeks I have given serious thought to launching a candidacy for the 57th District House of Delegates seat. Nobody can replace the legendary Mitch Van Yahres, and we need to make certain that whoever succeeds Mitch in office will honor his legacy by fighting hard and smart for the 57th District’s progressive values.
I considered running for this seat above all because I feel that we need more public educators in the legislature. As someone who has spent his entire professional career as a public educator, I know only too well that school reform needs to be based on sound research instead of sound bites, and that no school reform can succeed and no state university can fulfill its potential without adequate funding. The politicians have made a mess of public education, and the situation is unlikely to improve until the voice of educators has impact at the highest levels of government.
I also considered running because I believed for a time that serving in the House of Delegates would best enable me to continue the work I began last year when I co-founded the Faculty-Staff-Student Alliance at UVa. Last year the Alliance launched a successful statewide campaign whose achievement was to make certain that the reform of public higher education (the so-called charter initiative) did not come at the expense of lower- and middle-income families, university employees, or Virginia’s system of public higher education. Mitch has been a strong supporter of the Alliance’s priorities of access, affordability, and fairness in the treatment of classified staff, and the well-being of our community depends on our electing a successor to Mitch who shares these same priorities.
After consultation with a wide range of contacts in the community, I have now decided that I can best serve public education and, more broadly, the Democratic Party by investing all of my time and energy in getting the top of our ticket elected on November 8, 2005. With Tim Kaine as Governor, Creigh Deeds as Attorney General, and a Democrat as Lieutenant Governor, Virginia will have a strong team in place to fight for the interests of students, parents, educators, and the working people of Virginia. Of course, I will also do everything I can to make certain that the 57th District elects a progressive to carry on Mitch’s legacy in the General Assembly.
I would like to close by thanking everyone in the community who gave me advice, encouragement, and offers of support. Although I won’t be running for the House of Delegates, I will keep fighting hard and smart for public education and the principles of our Democratic Party.