Passing of Joe Gartlan

Yesterday long-time State Senator Joe Gartlan passed away.   He was 83 years old and served as State Senator for 28 years, 1972-2000.  For the last portion of his legislative career, he was the chairman of the Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee. 

Although I did not know Senator Gartlan personally during his tenure as a State Senator, he became a trusted friend and advisor soon after.  Many times, he called me with a word of advice or encouragement. 

Two recollections stand out ….

In the spring of 2001, I had announced for State Delegate.  Like many challengers, I had no clue what I was doing.  Joe called me at my law office one day and asked me to lunch.  He gave me the lowdown on winning tough legislative races; he referred to his own race in 1995 against Stan Parris when the Republicans were winning races all over Fairfax County and he somehow held on to his seat.

Three years later, I called him.  I was patroning a bill to raise the felony threshold for property crimes, a law first enacted when he sat on the Courts Committee.  Not only did he return my call, he came down to Richmond to testify the Committee.  The bill got killed but Joe was there as a former Courts chair to testify for it.  Talk about raising the credibility of a young back-bencher. 

Joe Gartlan was a first-class act and a great leader for Fairfax County and Virginia.  A man of great conscience and intelligence.  RIP.    

P.S.  I returned from the funeral this afternoon (Wednesday).  Very moving.  Remembrances by former Governor Gerry Baliles, Supervisor Gerry Hyland, and a designee of the Archdiocese of Arlington.  Just a great service. 

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