Minorities comprise only a small portion of Virginia’s legislature—including 18 members of the Legislative Black Caucus—but the Minority Political Leadership Institute is now grooming its class of 2012 for public office. There to greet them and provide motivation during a luncheon was Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who advised them to avoid the type of political discord that’s part of Washington politics. But the Republican Lieutenant Governor also addressed the lack of diversity within his own caucus.
Bolling told the group that regardless of ethnicity or affiliation, political leaders cannot be effective if their goal is to create divisiveness and polarize issues based on their own personal views and ideology. He says his concern is that Virginia is moving in that direction and if it is to continue to be great state, elected officials must learn to focus on what they can agree on rather than how they disagree. But he believes that also means having diverse views and broader representation, including within his own party:
“The face of Virginia has changed dramatically over the course of the past couple of decades. So, as party, we’re always looking for ways to get our conservative principles and values in front of different ethnic groups and folks of different backgrounds and walks of life and encourage them to come into our party and hopefully make them feel at home in our party. And there are efforts where we’ve done a good job at that and there are efforts where we’ve not done such a good job at that,” said Bolling.
There are more women in the current 2012 Minority Political Leadership Institute. Although GOP women serve in the General Assembly, Bolling would like a greater number to be elected.