BY KAY TRULASKE AND CAROLINE QUEALLY
THE CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE
For freshman Del. John McGuire, R-Henrico, the biggest surprise during his first session of the Virginia General Assembly was getting things done.
“I got involved in politics because I was sick and tired of all the divide in our country,” McGuire said. “I know that a good leader brings people together, and the goal of any good leader is to bring people to a better place.”
McGuire is a representative for parts of Goochland, Henrico and Spotslyvania coutnties, as well as Louisa County. A former Navy Seal and father of five, McGuire was born and reared in Henrico County, Virginia, and was in foster care as a child.
Assembly-veteran Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, served as McGuire’s mentor in the 2018 session.
“Obviously his background in the military and his experience with small businesses contributed to his success this year,” Landes said. “He takes advice well and applies all feedback in a very effective way.”
During his campaign, McGuire said he heard countless people tell him he wasn’t qualified or experienced enough to be a delegate, and that he would never get anything done.
McGuire knocked on the doors of independents, democrats and republicans – with whom he said he laughed and cried as he heard stories from their lives. McGuire sought to embrace people’s different passions and problems.
“I appreciate someone who has a different opinion, because through conversation it might change me or change them, so then we get to a better place.”
Del. David Reid, D-Loudoun, was a neighbor of McGuire in the General Assembly office building this session.
“It was a pleasure getting to know John and his staff,” Reid said. “We both served in the Navy and we were both adopted when we were young, so there’s a common bond in those areas.”
Reid was a co-patron of McGuire’s veteran ID bill, HB 737, and emphasized the broad support the bill received in the House this year.
McGuire was the chief-patron of nine total bills this session, with the veteran ID bill making it all the way to Gov. Ralph Northam. The bill would allow the DMV to issue driver’s licenses with a veteran indicator.
McGuire’s other eight proposed pieces of legislation, such as HB 739 on police animal cruelty and HB 1397 concerning small business’ government compliance, were killed in session.
“I was elected to solve problems,” McGuire stated. “Not push bills through and overlooking finding the simple solution.”
Landes was impressed with McGuire’s passion to solve issues.
“He was able to find solutions and create legislation on issues people have been trying to solve for years,” Landes said.
McGuire has even killed a number of his own bills because he said he was able to find a solution outside of the General Assembly. Examples include HB 1438 and HB 738, that looked to promote local drive-in movie theaters and lower the cost of milk respectively.
“Our number one goal is to find solutions,” he said. “We want to make Virginia the best place to work, live and raise a family.”
McGuire also discussed the recent Parkland shooting.
“You can imagine that I know a lot about weapons, and I am pro-second amendment,” he said. “However, some people are not. That doesn’t make me any better than them.”
McGuire said at the start of the session he surprised newspapers when he attended and spoke at pro-gun rally, and in the same day, attended a gun safety rally.
“How could you possibly be a good legislator if you don’t go to both and know both sides?” he said.
McGuire said the country needs to make a change about leniency of gun-regulation, especially when it comes to the safety of children. He is in support of stronger background checks.
“If our kids are number one — which they are– we need to protect our children. Make our schools safer,” he said. “It’s like what I said on the campaign trial. We are in a war on common sense. It shouldn’t be easy to harm children.”
Ron Sims, a veteran and constituent in Louisa County, said McGuire’s success thus far is thanks to his persistence.
“The way he ran for election, he stood on every street corner in this district personally holding a sign,” Sims said. “He’s very tenacious.”
During the months he’s not in session, McGuire travels around the country with his company SEAL Team PT, a physical training boot camp for athletic teams and corporations nationwide.
“We are celebrating 20 years of helping people become stronger, healthier and more confident.” McGuire said. “We help people believe in themselves.”
McGuire said he hopes to run for re-election for the 2019 General Assembly.
“I would hope that people would think that finding solutions and getting results is the best thing,” he said. “This is why I am really excited. I put my heart and soul in and am getting things done.”