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Merricks won’t seek re-election
Thursday, March 7, 2013
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Del. Don Merricks, who announced Wednesday he will not seek a fourth term in the House of Delegates in November, said tough choices made by legislators several years ago have put Virginia in better shape than most states now.
“When you look at when I went in, we faced some of the biggest decisions we’ve ever had to face” with the state budget, including a weak economy and a lack of revenues, said Merricks, R-Pittsylvania County,.
“We had to make some tough decisions, but I think that’s why we are where we are today, and I think Virginia is in a better shape than most states,” he said.
“And we were able to do that without raising taxes. I’m glad I was a part of that. I feel real good about that,” Merricks said. The state is at a 2007 level of spending, and “I think that’s a good thing. We were able to make the hard decisions and stick to our guns, and I’m proud of that.”
Merricks reflected on his six years in the House as he announced that he will not run for re-election Nov. 5.
“It was a tough decision, but I just need to spend more time in the business,” he said.
“By not returning to Richmond, I will be able to be in my office daily working alongside my wife and my employees to ensure that our business is strong and we are finding new opportunities for growth,” he said in a release.
Merricks owns J.W. Squires Co. Inc., a building specialty business in Danville.
“The last several years have been very difficult” in the troubled economy, especially in his business, he said. “Things are picking up a little bit now, and it’s looking a little better.”
The decision not to seek re-election “was a hard decision to make. I vacillated back and forth, but six years is a pretty good term,” said Merricks, who was elected in 2007 and took office in 2008.
His decision was not influenced by the flack he has encountered over his support of a transportation bill that some opponents have said will raise taxes while doing little good for rural Virginia, he said. The bill was approved in the final days of this year’s General Assembly session last month.
“We’ve been dealing with the transportation issue ever since” Merricks first was elected, he said. “When you’ve cut all you can cut and costs have escalated,” he said it is time to approve a plan of action.
Although the state is getting bids on some projects that are less than the projected costs, “I don’t know how long that will last. The price of asphalt has gone up” as have other costs, and those costs will be passed on to the state at some point, he said.
There are projections that by 2017, “there will be absolutely no (state) money for new construction. Everything will be going towards maintenance projects,” he said.
Approving the transportation plan “to me was the right thing to do. You have to look to the long haul” rather than just the short term, Merricks said.
Merricks’ term will end when his successor is sworn in on the second Wednesday in January 2014.
The 16th District covers parts of Henry and Pittsylvania counties and all of Martinsville.
After six years in office, “it was time” to step down, Merricks said. “I just needed to set my priorities, and that’s what I did.”
In a release, Merricks said, “it has been my honor to be your public servant and I pray that the decisions I have made, the bills I have sponsored and the votes I have cast will continue to make a positive impact on the region.”