Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Statement of Delegate Keam on Tucson Tragedy

I am stull shocked and saddened about what happened in Tucson yesterday, and I mourn the loss of so many lives.

I'm particularly heartbroken over the death of Christina-Taylor Green who was born on September 11, 2001.  Terrorism unfortunately bookended her nine short years in this world, but from what I've read about this remarkable girl, she was destined for big things.  As a father of a nine year old, I cannot imagine the pain and suffering her family must be going through, so I ask everyone to continue praying for Christina-Taylor and her family.

I also pray for quick and full recovery of Congresswoman Giffords and the many others who were injured in the shooting.  And I thank the courageous citizens who acted swiftly to stop the madman from inflicting even more harm.  I hope law enforcement officials will act just as quickly to bring the killer to justice and to make sure that there remains no other guilty party out there who might have had anything to do with this crime.

In the coming weeks, we will learn more about the shooter and his motivations.  I will try my best to reserve judgement about the young man as we simply do not know at this stage what drove him to do this unspeakable act.

I will also not add to the various public comments, rumors and speculations about the hyperpartisan political environment and the harsh rhetoric of the last election cycle that might have encouraged this violent act.  Throughout my campaign and in my first year in office, I've written and spoken about the need for more civility and collaboration in politics and government so that we can focus on getting things done for the public instead of scoring points for political parties.  The Tucson tragedy might be another reminder for both sides to cool down the rhetoric and theatrics of politics and add some respect and decency to our public discourse.

One thing that should not change is the tragedy's impact on the democratic process and the open system of government that we enjoy today.  While additional caution and enhanced security might be appropriate in some circumstances, I certainly hope that this shooting does not limit the opportunities for elected officials to meet their constituents.

One of the most important aspects of our duties as elected officials is to be aware of what is happening in the districts we represent so we are constantly attending public events and meeting with constituents in the open.  I simply could not do a good job as a Delegate by confining myself to my office in Richmond or Vienna.  I learn more about the concerns of constituents by knocking on their doors, holding open town hall meetings, attending civic association meetings, going to events hosted by various clubs and organizations, and by standing outside a farmers market.  Nothing should change this aspect of our open and free society, as accountability and access to our leaders must continue to be the bedrock of our democracy.

As I begin another session of the General Assembly in Richmond next week, I will certainly be a bit more cautious about my environment and a little more careful when I'm in a crowd, but I don't plan on making any drastic changes to the way I have done things since last year when I first began my public service.

May God bless those who fell victim yesterday and comfort their loved ones during these difficult times.

Mark Keam

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