Gilbert elected as majority leader

Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, standing, listens to debate during the floor session of the Virginia House of Delegates at the state Capitol in Richmond on Tuesday. Gilbert has been named the next majority leader of the lower chamber of the General Assembly. Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

The House Republican Caucus of the Virginia General Assembly unanimously elected a delegate from Woodstock to serve in its No. 2 position Wednesday.

Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, will serve as the new majority leader for the lower chamber of the General Assembly. He will take the seat of former leader Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, who was elected as the new speaker of the house. Current Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, opted to step down from the position Monday.

Delegates cast their votes at the tail end of the legislative session, with much of the leadership’s grunt work to come later this year and into 2018.

Gilbert, who had served as Cox’s deputy since 2010, said the vote was no surprise given the work he’s done in managing debate on the floor for the majority leader. However, he said it’s humbling for his peers to have voted unanimously for him to serve in the leadership.

“We try very hard to put forward policy that we think will better our fellow Virginians,” Gilbert said. “To have that vision is a daunting task, but I’m honored to have that additional responsibility.”

Although the rest of the 2017 session will likely consist of tying up loose ends and voting to pass an already hashed out budget, Gilbert said he’s looking forward to coming together with the leadership in the fall to craft a conservative tack for the state.

While he said he has pet projects and bills he would like to work through the floor, part of his new role as a leader will consist of listening to his fellow house Republicans’ ideas, not just forcing his own through.

“One of the things about leadership is you don’t get to have things your way all the time,” he said. “My thing is to listen to our caucus for how to do things best for the good people of Virginia, and work to guide the delegates through that process.”

Along with Gilbert’s appointment, the caucus also re-elected Majority Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax, and Majority Whip Jackson Miller, R-Manassas, into the leadership.

Gilbert grew up in Shenandoah County, graduating from Central High School in 1989. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, and his law degree from Southern Methodist University. He served as a prosecutor for 14 years, cycling around Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick counties, before going into private practice six years ago. He has served as a delegate for the past 12 years, and lives just outside of Mount Jackson.

The 2017 session of the Virginia General Assembly is scheduled to conclude Saturday. The 2018 session is scheduled to begin Jan. 10, 2018.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com