James Lander believes he can go to Richmond and build bridges that will help Democrats in the House of Delegates advance their agenda and move this state forward.
Lander, 42, has served in the U.S. Navy actively or as a reservist for 22 years. He's about halfway through his first two-year term on the Arlington School Board, his first public office. And he's a national program manager for Goodwill Industries International, doing workforce development for veterans who are transitioning back to civilian life.
who have announced their intentions to seek the seat in the House of Delegates that will be vacated by Del. David Englin, D-Alexandria. The other is .
Last week, Englin and said he would not seek re-election in order to spend time reconciling with this wife. His term expires December 2013.
"It's very important to continue to have strong leadership and progressive representation in the 45th District," Lander said.
"We have a minority of Democrats in the House of Delegates, and so it's important that the delegation from Northern Virginia is coordinated in both thought and objectives in regard to moving Virginia forward. And I think my leadership style, my experience with workforce development, my sense of service both to community and country… mirrors very much the background David Englin had. So, my leadership style would lend itself to being very effective in the House of Delegates."
The district includes part of Alexandria, plus parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties.
Legislators currently are "too busy trying to prove the other one wrong," he said.
"It is not enough to shout down the ideas that are outrageous," Lander said. "We have to find common ground or else we're not doing our job."
The military forces you to work with people from diverse backgrounds, and to adapt your leadership style accordingly, he said.
Even on a dicey issue like immigration reform, Lander is optimistic.
"Lazy people don't immigrate," Lander said. "If we have immigrants in this state who have sacrificed everything to come here, imagine how valuable a resource they would be in helping us move Virginia forward together."
Lander married his high school sweetheart, Monica. The two have a 20-year-old daughter who is a rising junior at the College of William & Mary.
Lander's term on the Arlington School Board expires December 2013.