Del. John Cox won’t be matching his predecessor’s longevity in the General Assembly, but that was never the intent.
He was elected in 2009 after then-Del. Frank Hargrove Sr. decided to cap his tenure at 28 years.
Cox, a Hanover resident and businessman, knew from the beginning that this “wouldn’t be a career move into politics,” he said.
The founder and owner of Cox Transportation Services realized “how important it was to have a voice in the General Assembly to speak on behalf of job creators,” and he wanted “to give back to the community that has given so much” to him and his family.
“I’ve been privileged and honored to serve my friends and neighbors,” Cox said, adding that he is thankful for “the generous support” he’s received.
He appreciates the history behind Virginia’s legislature, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. He considers it a “hallowed place” in which you feel “a sense of awe just being able to sit in that body.”
Unfortunately, the most recent session was “extra-contentious,” he found, and he grew disappointed in the “political gamesmanship.”
Cox leaves the House of Delegates neither angry nor upset, but disappointed at some of the outcomes of the last session, which he said were “not true to the Republican ideals I hold near and dear.”
Particularly troubling to Cox was Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation bill, which he said includes “massive tax increases.” The bill raises several taxes, including the state sales tax from 5 to 5.3 percent.
During his first three years in office, however, the General Assembly avoided tax increases during the economic recession, an accomplishment of which Cox is proud.
Cox has no regrets about his time in the legislature, and along the way he enjoyed working with “a lot of good people with a genuine interest in the way government operates.”
But now it’s time to enjoy life—especially his 4-year-old granddaughter. He also hopes to do more traveling with his wife, Dottie, and there are “a whole lot more golf balls I plan to lose in the woods,” he said.
Cox plans on remaining involved with the community. He’ll continue serving as president of the Hanover Sheriff’s Office Foundation, for example.
He still owns his trucking company and will participate in any major decisions, but he’ll leave the day-to-day operations to company president, Jay Smith.
“There should only be one sheriff in town,” Cox said, adding that Smith is doing “a wonderful job” with the company.
Cox’s term as delegate doesn’t expire until the end of the year, so expect to see him at groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies in the meantime.
The next delegate to the 55th district will be decided in November’s election.
Asked what advice he would give to his successor, Cox said, “Never ever lose sight of the fact that it’s not your voice you’re speaking in the Capitol. It’s the voice of the 80,000-plus people you’re honored to represent.”
The first prospective delegate has announced his candidacy.
Hyland “Buddy” Fowler, legislative aide to Del. John Cox and Del. Frank Hargrove before him, has declared he will seek the Republican nomination in the election to represent the 55th district in the House of Delegates.
Fowler is a former small business owner who ran a billing service for doctors and dentists. In 1995, Hargrove tapped him to serve as a staff researcher for the Republican caucus.
Fowler said he has “nothing but great respect and admiration” for the “common-sense leadership” of both Hargrove and Cox.
A primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11.