This is what a good politician looks like

(Courtesy Photo)

By Paul Lachelier, Alexandria
(Courtesy Photo) 

To the editor:

As the government shutdown underscores, a politician’s personal conduct matters because — as very public figures — they set examples and shape the quality of political life. For these reasons, I want to offer some insight into the character of state Delegate Rob Krupicka (D-45), who is running for re-election, based on my interactions with him.

Prior to moving to Alexandria in June 2012, I taught sociology at Stetson University in Florida. As a sociologist, I studied American political culture and, in particular, how and why people engage in or disengage from politics. Having studied and engaged in politics for many years, I know that politicians can do a lot to connect with constituents and inspire their political engagement.

Not long after I moved to Alexandria, I met Rob. This was when he was running for a seat in the General Assembly during last year’s special election. Just prior to the election, I knocked on doors for Rob and found that many people already knew him — as a neighbor and city councilor — and planned to vote for him.

After the election, which he won handily, I kept in contact with Rob occasionally via email, and he never failed to respond promptly. Periodically, I also received emails from Rob informing his constituents of General Assembly developments and his legislative work on issues that affect us all. More recently, I knocked on constituents’ doors with Rob and participated in a packed public discussion about education issues at his home as he earnestly took notes.

All of these experiences may seem ordinary, but together they paint an extraordinary model. I’ve seen more than enough politicians who are slow to respond to emails — or don’t respond at all — and prefer the easier public gatherings to the harder work of knocking on their constituents’ doors.

Most politicians, in my experience, also don’t welcome constituents into their homes to talk at length with them about the issues and take notes on what they say. Yet in good democracies, this is what good politicians do.

Thanks, Rob, for your example at a time when we could use more good politicians.