CHESAPEAKE — We live in an era that seems to reward the sound bite and the tweet.
The more staccato and abrasive you are with your language, the more you are rewarded with attention.
I am not that type of writer.
In the timeless handbook on writing, Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, there’s a clarion call: “Omit needless words.”
Because this is a column, and because I’d like to hold your attention, I’ll do my best to get to the point on a regular basis. And I’ll do it without the hyperbolic language.
But first, an introduction is in order.
I am your neighbor, Jim. I live near the main distribution area of The Princess Anne Independent News but do not live within it.
You all feverishly debated the topic of residence and the proximity of Chesapeake to Virginia Beach during your last 2nd Congressional District Republican primary between my former 4th District representative, Randy Forbes, and your now incumbent, Scott Taylor.
It would seem based upon this recent discussion that the Intracoastal Waterway is less a mere strait and more akin to its nearby neighbor, the Atlantic Ocean. It is a chasm of epoch proportions that separates the wizened sages of Pungo from the folk who live near the Fentress flight line.
Despite several legislators sharing the honor of service to both communities, divisive rhetoric has made it seem as if we’re light years apart. That war of words portrayed Chesapeake as being as close as Catalonia, but it’s fair to say that my home off Mount Pleasant Road is nearby enough to offer observations of relevance to the discerning PAIN reader.
We have more in common than you might think. I attend church in Virginia Beach. I once worked at Dam Neck Naval Base. We shop regularly in Red Mill and enjoy dinner at Margie & Ray’s.
That said, the best she-crab soup in Hampton Roads is from my kitchen, made by me. And, if you ask nicely, I might let you try some.
While we share much in common, there are advantages that I might have over a resident in observing local politics. From the other side of the river, I have no concerns sharing unencumbered thoughts about piers, arenas, railroads and towers. I will be able to discern and share with little hesitation the efforts of special interests attempting to make theirs the public interest. I am free to offer the “outsider’s” perspective.
But, again, I am your neighbor, and better walls do not make better neighbors. We share much in common: education, development, transportation, economic growth, environmental stewardship, the “sound of freedom” and the fiscal decisions in Richmond, to name just a few. They are bound to affect us all.
For more than a decade I have offered observations on public policy, including a stint as a columnist for The Daily Press and now as host of weekly podcast, The J.R. Hoeft Show.
Through the years, I hope one thing has remained consistent: my faith that human beings are genuinely good and that oversight is never a bad idea.
I’m very grateful for this new opportunity and look forward to sharing some ideas from the far bank.
Hoeft, a retired Navy spokesperson, hosts The J.R. Hoeft Show, a weekly podcast available via jrhoeft.com. The one-time columnist for The Daily Press has been involved in or covering Virginia politics and public policy for more than two decades. He lives in the Hickory area of Chesapeake.
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