By Daniel Lombardo
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – In his first term as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Michael Webert sought advice from more experienced legislators.
Webert, who represents the 18th House District comprised of Rappahannock County and parts of Warren, Fauquier and Culpeper counties, called on such mentors as Delegate Edward Scott, a fellow Republican in a neighboring district. A 31-year-old farmer, Webert said Scott and other officials helped him with decision-making throughout the legislative session.
Born: Sept. 24, 1979, in Denver
Education: George Mason University (bachelor’s degree in communication, 2010)
Profession: General manager of Locust Hill Farm; owner, Black Locust Livestock Marketing & Consulting
House District: 18th, which includes Rappahannock County and parts of Culpeper, Fauquier and Warren counties
Honors: 2010 John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation Award; vice president, Virginia Forage and Grasslands Council
“Fortunately, I have some great people around me, who have all been very helpful in helping me monitor legislation as it comes to Richmond,” Webert said.
Scott, 46, said the two men have a lot in common.
“I just reached out to him in both policy and politics. We have something in common there. We want to be as effective as we can,” Scott said.
One measure of effectiveness is the number of bills a legislator passes. Of the five bills Webert introduced this year, three passed and have been signed into law. They are:
• House Bill 1178, barring registered sex offenders from operating buses carrying children.
• HB 368, which will provide tax credits to mediators who provide free help to resolve disputes in approved low-income neighborhoods.
• HB 800, allowing counties to set a 35 mph speed limit on unpaved roads.
Webert had a relatively limited agenda, but 60 percent of his bills passed. By comparison, of all 1,301 bills proposed in the House this year, 36 percent will become law.
“I think he’s done a very good job showing that he is doing his homework and [is] someone that is a good listener,” Scott said. “A lot of the time, he would ask me why I voted the way I did. He has humility to ask me these kinds of questions. He doesn’t come to the job thinking he has all the answers.”
Webert is from the town of Marshall (population 1,500) in Fauquier County. Besides his legislative duties, he is a full-time farmer, running a 3,500-acre operation.
For the previous 10 years, the 18th district, which was reconfigured as part of last year’s redistricting by the General Assembly, had been represented by Republican Clifford “Clay” Athey Jr. of Front Royal, who retired.
Webert won the Republican nomination for the seat by defeating marketing consultant Kevin Kelley in a GOP primary last August. Webert then easily beat Democrat Bob Zwick in last November’s general election.
Webert outspent Zwick $183,503 to $5,022, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which compiles political contributions data. Webert’s grandmother, Magalen Bryant, donated $89,057 to his campaign.
“My family was a large part of it, as well as a few private donors,” Webert said.
Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.