A losing battle

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, October 29, 2014

United States Congressman Randy Forbes, by any measure, has not been perfect in his representation of Virginia’s 4th congressional district. Elliott Fausz, were he to defeat Forbes in next week’s election, would not be either. Both are human and, as such, are flawed and capable of making mistakes. But voters don’t expect perfection; they expect representation. And by that measure, Forbes has more than delivered for Western Tidewater.

Yet Mr. Fausz has based nearly his entire campaign on the premise that Forbes has not been responsive to 4th district constituents. In an interview with The Tidewater News published on Sunday, Aug. 3 (“Fourth district candidate seeks to prioritize constituents,” by Cain Madden), Fausz stated, “One of the issues that I have noticed with Congressman Forbes is that he is unreachable.

“Only a select few can get in contact with him. His constituent services are terrible, and he has not held a town hall meeting since 2012.” In a subsequent press release issued in October, Fausz reiterated, “It’s unfortunate that we have a congressman who refuses to answer to the very people who put him in office”

Whether or not one agrees with Forbes’ position on specific issues, the assertion that Forbes is unreachable or that he provides anything less than top-flight constituent services cannot go unchallenged.

As anyone who lives in Franklin, Southampton or Isle of Wight can attest, Forbes is not only reachable, but is present and accounted for when called upon by the residents of the least densely populated part of his district.

Forbes worked side by side with residents to help keep the Navy at bay when it proposed building an unnecessary practice facility in Southampton County. The project never got off the ground.

Forbes rolled up his sleeves and worked collaboratively with other top government officials following the announcement of International Paper’s Franklin Mill closure. IP subsequently repurposed and reopened the mill.

Forbes has made countless appearances at local civic gatherings to explain the goings-on of congress and to answer constituent questions. No topic has ever been off-limits.

His staff routinely holds office hours in this part of his district, providing assistance ranging anywhere from social security issues to discrepancies with the IRS. Their efforts have garnered numerous awards for providing excellent service.

We are not alone in our assessment. In an editorial in their Tuesday edition, The Richmond Times-Dispatch proclaimed, “He (Forbes) excels in constituent service and actively seeks citizen engagement.”

As a political neophyte, Fausz’ attempt to unseat a popular congressman like Forbes was an uphill battle from the start. Choosing to attack one of Forbes’ greatest strengths makes it a battle he simply can’t win.