Bell Sounds from the 20th - To every thing there is a season...

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 King James Version (KJV)

In 2009 I was elected to serve the citizens of the 20th House District as their Delegate to the General Assembly. It was a tremendous honor then, and it remains a tremendous honor now. Public service has always been a calling for me, and I am pleased and proud to say that I have answered that call.

This coming year, 2019, marks a decade of service for me in the House of Delegates, following thirteen and a half years of service as a member of Staunton City Council and fourteen more years of volunteer service on the City’s boards and commissions prior to that. It has not been without its challenges, but it has been a labor of love. Public service has given me the opportunity to meet and serve many, many wonderful people, making me aware everyday of why I chose to do this.

My family has been incredibly supportive of everything I have done and they have suffered the slings and arrows so common in politics just as I have. Their support has never wavered and they have made many sacrifices on my behalf without ever complaining. They have been my sounding board, my confidantes, my defenders, and my team. I will continue to spend the rest of my life repaying them for their love and support.

In a profession where staff people come and go all the time I have been blessed with a loyal staff that has been with me, supported me, shielded me, defended me and protected me from the very first day of this journey. I will be forever grateful for that blessing of loyalty.

Despite my years in local politics, when I went to Richmond I learned “things I never knew I never knew.” I often tell people that unlike most others who run for office we had no money, no organization behind us and no clue what we were in for. There were times when I would wish “I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then” but through it all I have always done my best to serve the citizens of the 20th District and represent their best interests.

That brings us to 2019, which is an election year for all 140 members of the General Assembly, and the reason for this announcement.  After much thought and much prayerful consideration my family and I have made a decision.

I will not run for re-election in 2019.

It has been an honor to serve and I am proud of my service. However, it is not my highest honor. That would be the honor and blessing of being a husband and father and a humble servant of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have never apologized for my faith or my love for this country and my battle cry has always been “family first.” Those are the things of which I am proudest.

Let me assure you that I am fine. I am not ill or sick, in fact I’m very healthy, but the clock is still ticking and no day is promised. We are expecting our first grandchild in January and that most certainly is part of the decision. I am not sad that my public service is coming to an end, but rather I am very grateful that the opportunity ever came along in the first place. It has been a great, exciting ride! As Thomas Jefferson remarked upon his retreat from the public life, “I will leave with my hands as clean as they are empty.” It is a true blessing to be able to leave on your own terms, and that too is part of my decision.

I have tried to be a good representative and a good public servant. Being a good politician never really mattered to me because I don’t have a fondness for politics and I never have. It’s a game I just don’t play well. I care more about people than politics. Today’s political climate saddens me and the partisan divide we see at every level of government makes public service more difficult.

There is an old quotation from a gentleman named James Freeman Clarke that says “a politician cares about the next election, a statesman cares about the next generation.” It’s not original to me but I think it describes my service well, and I believe my legislative record supports that claim. It would be an honor to someday be remembered as a statesman.

I have never been concerned about winning or losing elections. I am a competitor and I love competition and I have always believed that working hard and doing things the right way produce successful outcomes. The decision to retire at this time has absolutely nothing to do with elections.

Anne and I treasure the friendships that have sprung out of my time in public office and we hold them dear. Whatever it takes to maintain those relationships we plan to do. The opportunity to have more time to spend with my family and repay them for their loyalty and sacrifice over the years, as well as time for a new granddaughter has a strong pull on me and has me very excited.

Thank you all for your support. It has been overwhelming and humbling. It has always been my honor and my humble pleasure to serve as your Delegate. May God richly bless each and every one of you, may God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia and may God bless the United States of America.

 

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commented 2018-12-27 13:10:25 -0500 · Flag
Dickie, it was a an honor to serve with you, and you will be sorely missed in the General Assembly. You have definitely left the campground in far better shape than you found it. God bless and Godspeed. Rich Anderson
commented 2018-12-27 11:00:55 -0500 · Flag
Oh jeez Dickie – I thought this was Rob Bell’s page! You have definitely earned your time away. Congrats to you and Anne on the grand baby. Feel free to delete the below comment.
commented 2018-12-27 10:49:49 -0500 · Flag
Rob – thank you for your service. Our politics don’t align terribly well, but you have always gotten my vote. You are a good man and great citizen leader. Enjoy the extra time with family.