Virginia Capitol Connections Winter 2023

Virginia Capitol Connections, Winter 2023 31 When I see Joe Morrissey give a speech or presentation, I think, “now, there’s a natural born showman.” With an almost Jimmy Cagney stature and energy, he knows how to work the crowd, and in an apparently authentic way, he enjoys it. Morrissey grew up in Northern Virginia, and was raised in a large Irish Catholic family. He was a good student, going on to earn a B.A. In economics at the University of Virginia, a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, and a master of laws degree with honor at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Dublin is where my friend, Carroll Graham, met Morrissey. Where else? An Irish pub, where they talked for hours. Morrissey started out as a high school government teacher. He has taught at the Dublin Institute for Technology, and in Australia at the University of Adelaide and the University of Western Sydney. He also taught at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington. (This reporter’s hometown.) He served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Richmond. He held a private law practice as well. The later decades of the Twentieth Century were literally deadly in Morrissey’s beloved Ireland. That’s when a group of Irish Americans formed the Richmond Irish American Society (IAS). One of its early projects was to bring Protestant and Catholic children to Richmond for a summer of friendship, and to teach them that the fighting among the adults in their homeland did not have to continue with its youngsters. Graham told us that Morrissey was deeply involved in this endeavor, and invited the IAS members and their Richmond-based “foster” children to enjoy a summer picnic at his riverside Varina home. Morrissey was a lecturer of law at Portobello College in Ireland from 2001-2002. He began his political career as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 2008-2014, and then was elected to the Senate in 2020. His committee assignments have included Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; Judiciary; Local Government; and Rehabilitation and Social Services. Morrissey’s reverence for Ireland is rivaled by his reverence for his constituents. Though not without his controversies, among his supporters, he is known as passionate, attentive, and grateful. This reporter made a January visit to his office and was presented with a beautiful, personally autographed photo calendar. It is said that all of his constituent visitors received thank-you notes. While serving in political office, Morrissey maintained his ties with the IAS, giving such things as lectures about his teaching in Ireland. Listening to his animated talks at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, one can feel the electric charge in the room. It’s contagious. “He was great,” said Graham. “People said he knows his stuff. He can out-issue anybody.” Bonnie Atwood works for Virginia Capitol Connections Quarterly Magazine. “Ranked-choice voting” is a promising new concept on the political scene, and Virginians can thank Delegate Sally L. Hudson for its authorization in local elections in the Commonwealth. She is finishing her term as a Virginia state legislator. She is also an economist, elected in 2019. She was the first woman to represent her district, the 57th, which includes the city of Charlottesville and much of the surrounding Albemarle County. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Del. Hudson is a native of Iowa City, Iowa, and grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is also an alumna of both Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After she received her Ph.D. from MIT, Hudson became an Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Education, and Economics at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy of the University of Virginia. At UVA, her research focus is on the topics of public sector labor economics, and higher education finance. During the 2019 elections for House of Delegates, Hudson defeated architect Kathleen Galvin in the Democratic primary and subsequently ran unopposed in that year’s general election. As a freshman legislator during the General Assembly’s 2020 session, Hudson’s most significant accomplishment was the successful legislation that authorized the use of ranked-choice voting in local elections in the Commonwealth. The nation is sitting up and taking notice of ranked-choice voting. Del. Hudson’s work just may have left a major mark on elections in Virginia in the near future. Joseph A. Green is a freelance writer based in Richmond. Joseph “Joe” Morrissey Delegate 2008-2015 • Senator 2020-2024 BY BONNIE ATWOOD Sally L. Hudson Delegate 2020-2024 BY JOSEPH A. GREEN John Avoli Delegate 2020-2024 BY BUTCH SMILEY Delegate John Avoli is a proud, Italian-born immigrant to the United States. He played football at the University of Richmond where he met his lovely wife, Lynn. He became a teacher and football coach at Wilson High School while getting his master’s degree at UVA. He later became Principal at Stuarts Draft High School, Director of Valley Career and Technical Center, Mayor of the City of Staunton, and Executive Director of the Frontier Culture Museum. Upon retiring from his career as an educator in 2018,