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Colleagues: Merricks will be missed in Richmond
Thursday, March 7, 2013
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Del. Don Merricks’ term will not end until January, but some already are bracing for the loss.
“We are going to miss Don Merricks. Don is not a politician. He is a public servant,” said Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville.
Merricks, R-Pittsylvania County, announced Wednesday that after six years in the House of Delegates, he will not seek re-election in November because he wants to devote more time to his business.
“It was a difficult decision” to make, Merricks, 61, said when making the announcement.
Marshall said Merricks “told me when the session started that he had about 70 percent decided not to run.”
Serving in the General Assembly “takes a lot of time from you, and the longer you’re there, the more time it takes” because legislators with seniority often are asked to serve on commissions and perform other outside duties, Marshall said.
The time commitment “was weighing heavily on him in his business,” Marshall said.
When legislators got a weekend off during the most recent session, Marshall said he asked Merricks how his weekend at home was only to learn that Merricks went back to his office at the business “and worked all weekend.”
Merricks “just told me this, that he had made up his mind,” Marshall said. “Don called me and said, ‘I’m not running.”
He does not know who may be interested in running for the 16th House District seat, Marshall said.
As Merricks’ decision becomes more well known, Marshall said “people will step forward. We will have to see who steps forward, but right now no one has called me.”
Jeff Williams, chairman of the Martinsville Republican Committee, said, “we are aware of two people who are considering it, but I’m not at liberty” to name them.
“They are just considering it, and there may be more as word gets out.”
A GOP candidate will be decided during the June primary, Marshall said.
Marshall said Merricks will be missed in Richmond.
“I think Don did it for the right reasons. I think he did it with the right heart, and he worked hard to make our state a better place,” Marshall said.
Williams shared similar sentiments.
“I just really appreciate” Merricks’ service. “I don’t agree with his vote on the transportation bill,” but it is rare to agree on everything, Williams said.
Williams said he also appreciates the sacrifices that Merricks’ wife, Patti, has made.
Overall, “I think he’s done an excellent job. Don is a very good man,” Williams added.
Jeff Adkins, chairman of the Martinsville Henry County Democratic Committee, said that he was surprised to learn that Merricks would not seek re-election.
Although Merricks is a Republican, he “looks at both sides of the issue. I have a lot of respect for him,” Adkins said.
He added that he does not know anyone in his party that is interested in running for the post.