By Lynn R. Mitchell
State Senator John Watkins’ announcement to not seek re-election in 2015 caught many by surprise. After all, this long-time legislator had represented Powhatan, Chesterfield, and Colonial Heights citizens in the Virginia legislature since 1981, first as a delegate and later as state senator.
Jim McConnell, reporter with the Chesterfield Observer, wrote a very observant article about Senator Watkins’ legislative abilities and his accomplishments for the people he represents:
The conservative wing of his own party may be cheering state Sen. John Watkins’ decision to retire from the state legislature when his term ends in January 2016, but a longtime General Assembly lobbyist believes that the departure of a leader with Watkins’ experience and demeanor will be a significant loss for Chesterfield.
“It takes years to build that seniority and you don’t replace it overnight,” said Charlie Davis, a county resident who has worked in and around the General Assembly since the early 1980s.
“It’s going to be difficult for anyone else to gain the stature that’s been amassed by Watkins because he came along at a different time. As fractured and contentious as the political process has become, it’s harder for the cream to rise to the top.”
… Watkins is well-known for his courteous manner, a willingness to consider alternative points of view and a keen interest in solving problems.
Donald Williams, chairman of the Chesterfield Republican Committee, described Watkins’ work in the General Assembly as “thoughtful and consequential.”
“Republicans may not be monolithic on every issue, but if you happened to disagree with John Watkins on an issue, he was never disagreeable,” Williams added.
Senator Watkins represents Midlothian where my parents live and is from the prominent Watkins family in Chesterfield. Growing up, I would marvel at all the shrubs and trees on the Watkins Nursery property along Route 60 in western Chesterfield. Today much of that property is developed at Rt. 288 into Westchester Commons, businesses, and Bon Secours St. Francis at Watkins Centre.
The article is a nice tribute to Senator Watkins.