Moving Forward in Virginia
with “No Speed Limit”
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Promoting the “Promise
of Virginia,” as the inaugural theme, Democrat Timothy
M. Kaine took the oath of office as the 70th Governor of Virginia
with an evocative speech on a cold rainy day in colonial Williamsburg,
Virginia. This was a historic event; the first inauguration
in Williamsburg since Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office
as Governor of Virginia in 1779.
Speaking about early Virginians, Governor Kaine, 47, said:
“...They stood here proclaiming the promise of Virginia,
when the world around them doubted that the land of their
vision would survive.” He then asked: “Could (Patrick)
Henry or (Thomas) Jefferson have imagined the powerful success
of their democratic experiment, their beloved Virginia, as
it appears today?” “.., As a people, we have come
through storm after storm, working out the meaning of our
own destiny and coming closer and closer to the Virginia ideal
of equality that Jefferson articulated in America’s
Declaration of Independence,” Governor Kaine continued.
It rained on his inaugural parade but Governor Timothy showed
that he can entertain crowds well by serenading the audience
with some lyrics “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy
day” from Temptations song “My Girl.” California
has had actors as governors but the real theater has been
in Virginia. This is where it all began; the first state to
declare liberty from tyranny and the first state with a written
constitution and so many traditions. No wonder the “Beach
Boys” were here to perform to the audience for the Inaugural
Concert on Friday night. And, Tim Kaine took center stage
with his harmonica to play with the Blue Grass band “No
Former Governor Linwood Holton, a Republican and father-in-law
of Tim Kaine, postponed bladder cancer surgery to actively
campaign for his election and participate in the inaugural
festivities. While Holton faced a legislature controlled by
Democrats, Tim Kaine faces the opposite.
But, Tim Kaine is his own man. He went into politics - against
the advice of his father-in-law - beginning his career on
the Richmond City Council and later serving as Mayor of Richmond
and then as Lt. Governor of Virginia.
As Mayor of Richmond, Tim Kaine helped close down a bar called
the “Mosque”, as it offended the Muslims citizens
of Richmond. And, as Governor Tim Kaine’s first act
was to sign an order banning discrimination of the disabled
Governor Kaine faced a tough campaign and was sometimes criticized
for his campaign style. However, he won a decisive victory
– with a disciplined campaign - against an opponent
who attempted to make the “capital punishment”
a wedge issue – as Tim Kaine opposed the death penalty
based on his religious beliefs.
By electing Tim Kaine as the 70th Governor, the electorate
showed that Virginians could move forward by honestly debating
and working towards finding solutions to modern problems.
One of the last acts of hugely popular and possibly presidential
contenders - Governor Mark Warner - Tim Kaine’s predecessor,
was to order DNA testing of a man - who claimed innocence
until his death and there are some real questions about his
guilty convictions - executed on rape charges.
Promises made – during campaigns – in Virginia
like anywhere else do need some delivery by politicians, if
they are to be seriously or seek election to higher offices.
Cognizant of this reality and of the transportation problems
especially in Northern Virginia, where a large number of Pakistani
Americans live, Tim Kaine held numerous Town Hall meetings
immediately after his election in November 2005 to listen
to citizens’ concerns. From a conversation after a Town
Hall Meeting in Manassas on November 29, 2005, one finds Tim
Kaine approachable and a sincere politician.
But, governors cannot deliver alone on promises made during
election campaigns; they need an energetic and visionary team.
To accomplish his goal to enable Virginia to meet 21st century
challenges, Tim Kaine appointed Aneesh Chopra, 33, as Secretary
Technology in charge of $2.4 billion state budget. A brief
conversation with Secretary Chopra at the Williamsburg Visitor
Center shows that Governor Kaine is moving Virginia forward
with virtually no speed limit.
“The promise of Virginia is bright today because of
their efforts, and it is up to us to carry the work forward
for future generations,” said Governor Kaine in his
inaugural address and these words should be some food for
thought for the Pakistani American settlers of Virginia.