As our country remembers its 41st President in the wake of his funeral, I want to pay tribute to a man who has been the biggest influence on my political career.
President George H.W. Bush was a true statesman who embodied honesty, humility and service. He was, in my opinion, the most qualified leader our nation has ever had. And he taught me the most important lesson of my political career: always put your country and your constituents first.
He was a great man, and his loss is an enormous loss for our country.
I first met President Bush in the early 1990s after receiving a phone call from the White House requesting a lunch meeting. I thought it was a prank. It wasn’t, and I soon found myself at the White House seated next to the president. He wanted me to challenge then-Del. Glenn Croshaw – a Democrat who represented Virginia Beach in the Virginia House of Delegates – for his seat. I told him no. I liked Del. Croshaw and thought he did a good job representing our city. But I agreed to run for the Virginia Senate the next year. I did, and I won, beginning my 18-year tenure representing Virginia Beach.
Throughout that time, President Bush provided counsel and support and taught me by example that all politics is local and that we always have to put the people before our party. I adopted that philosophy and have done my best to shape myself in his image in my career. To this day, if someone asks for my support for office, I have one criterion: Will you put your constituents ahead of your caucus?
There is much more that can be said about President Bush, but I know that I, for one, am a better person and a better politician for his leadership.
Thank you, Mr. President. You will be missed but never forgotten.
— The Hon. Ken Stolle, Sheriff of Virginia Beach
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