Virginia Capitol Connections Winter 2023

Virginia Capitol Connections, Winter 2023 25 across the state, bringing attention to and solutions for women who have served in our nation’s military. Prior to her service in the General Assembly, Kathleen was President of Johnson Murphy & Associates — a McLean consulting firm providing strategic counseling and legislative strategies for companies and non-profit organizations. During the Clinton Administration, she worked as a Senior Advisor for International Trade issues at the Department of Commerce and handled Congressional Affairs at USAID. Kathleen helped found Salute Our Services, which was created to connect deployed service members to their families. She also helped found Kids Serve Too, an organization to honor and support children in military families. Kathleen played a critical role in Women’s Campaign International, an organization dedicated to teaching women in developing countries how to become political leaders, and was a founding member of the Congressional Wives Task Force, an advocacy group that focused on ensuring accurate nutrition labeling on food products and decreasing violence in children’s television. Del. Murphy is a former Board member of the McLean Community Foundation, served on the Human Services Council for Fairfax County, and served on the Fairfax County Health Care Task Force. And she has supported fundraising efforts for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Kathleen graduated from American University magna cum laude, is both a mother and grandmother, and is married to Bill Sidow, who serves as Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority Board. Delegate Reid represents part of Loudoun. Delegate Sullivan represents part of Fairfax County. In the realm of politics, where collaboration often succumbs to divisiveness, it is a rarity to find individuals who embody the virtues of dedication, bipartisanship, and the power of friendship. Senator John Bell, who recently announced his retirement, epitomizes such exceptional leadership. As a former opponent turned friend, I witnessed firsthand his commitment to public service and his unwavering dedication to constituents — which is definitely rooted in his honorable military background. As we thank this legislator, it is crucial to recognize his accomplishments, the valuable lessons learned from our unexpected collaboration, and the bonds that formed. A Contentious Campaign and Admirable Concession. In 2013, I found myself in a fiercely contested race against John Bell for my reelection to the House of Delegates District 87 seat. The campaign was intense and marked by divergent visions for the district. However, immediately after the heated campaign, John displayed an act of humility and sportsmanship. Within minutes of the publication of the election results, he called me to gracefully concede the race, despite its razorthin margin. This gesture highlighted his unwavering commitment to the democratic process and his selflessness in prioritizing the needs of the community over personal ambitions. A Dedicated Representative for District 87. Upon my retirement, Senator Bell stepped up and successfully secured the 87th district seat in 2015. Serving as my delegate and later as my senator, he embodied the true essence of public service. John immersed himself in the concerns and aspirations of his constituents, establishing open lines of communication and remaining responsive to their needs. His tireless advocacy knew no partisan bounds as he fought diligently for the district’s interests, transcending political affiliations. Overcoming Ideological Differences and Forging Friendships. While John and I held significant ideological differences, we recognized the importance of collaboration on issues that extended beyond partisan lines. Our shared commitment to serving the community brought us together, and over the years, our relationship evolved from opponents to friends. One notable example of our unexpected collaboration was our joint effort in combating what was coined the ‘Greenway Highway Robbery.’ Despite our contrasting political beliefs, we put aside our differences and worked in unison along with local elected officials to address this issue of great concern to our constituents. Our friendship and ability to find common ground underscored the notion that profound progress could be achieved when individuals prioritize the collective good over ideological divisions. A Legacy of Service and Friendship. As John concludes his tenure in public office, his legacy of collaboration, dedication, and honorable service will endure. His remarkable military background, having served in the United States Air Force, instilled in him a sense of duty, discipline, and sacrifice that translated into his political endeavors. Furthermore, our friendship serves as a testament to the power of forging bonds across political lines. I’m reminded of an old Lebanese proverb: “A friend is someone who stands by you during difficult times….” John exemplifies this sentiment to all his constituents. He continuously showcases that service and friendship can thrive amidst the complexities of politics. Thank You, John. Senator Bell’s retirement from the Senate marks the end of his service in the Virginia General Assembly but certainly not the end of his service to the community. I am confident that John’s unwavering commitment to public service will translate into another form of public good as soon as he fully recovers from his medical issues. Thank you, John!! David Ramadan was a delegate representing Loudoun and Prince William County from 2012 to 2016. He is now a professor at George Mason University. D B A V A . C O M DAVID BAILEY 1108 East Main St., Ste 1200 Richmond, VA 23219 804-643-5554 office 804-405-8108 cell John Bell Delegate 2016-2020 • Senator 2020-2024 BY DAVID RAMADAN “To Serve, Not Be Served”