Matter of Exquisite Balance
a world where the only constant is change, the
State Corporation Commission is the keeper of
economic balance in Virginia. A judgeship is open,
and I would like to fill it.
magazine recently ranked Virginia as the fourth
best state in the nation in which to do business.
Also, our state government is frequently judged
the best managed state in America.
is no accident.
good business is the goose that lays the golden
egg of our economy in Virginia — and it is —
fair, reasonable, and balanced government is the
gander that makes it possible.
is a matter of exquisite balance.
more than a hundred years, the keeper of this
balance in Virginia has been the State Corporation
SCC is governed by three judges appointed by the
legislature. Judge Ted Morrison retired at the end
of December. I am a candidate to fill his seat.
am not a lawyer. I do not have a law degree. My
degree is in business, an MBA from Duke, and my
worldview is shaped by those influences that shape
most worldviews — my background, my experience,
the way I was raised, by insatiable curiosity, and
by the things I read — and I read compulsively
perhaps more than anything, my worldview is shaped
by my consumption. I am a consumer. We all are. I
want the lights to come on when I hit the switch.
I want my insurance company to pay my claims. I
want my phones to work. I want my bank to stay
solvent and take care of my money.
take these things for granted. They are such
givens we don’t think about them, but underlying
every one of these simple events are vast
complexities, staggering costs, huge risks and
assumptions, and planning timelines that run, in
some cases, 50, 60, 70 years.
future will stun and dazzle us — and raise new
issues to vex us. God knows what the technology
will be — I have no idea — I can’t believe
what we’re using now.
do know this — actually two things: The
horizon that used to be our future is waiting new
on our doorstep every morning, and the
relationship between consumer and provider will
always be one of mutual dependence.
and reasonable” is a concept that is hard to
define precisely — one of those things where if
you know what I mean, I don’t have to explain
it — and if you don’t know — I can’t. I
think most of us recognize fair and reasonable
when we see it.
The marketplace playing field is
never dead level — it hasn’t been since God
closed Eden to apple vendors — and in my opinion
cannot be made so. There is some bias,
advantage, constraint, handicap, natural or
imposed, attendant to every market on Earth that I
The best we can do when it comes to
regulating our businesses, our institutions, and
our markets is — to the best of our
abilities — be, in every instance, fair and
When I was a kid first out of college,
I thought in black and white. Now I think in
shades of gray. I think age and intellectual
maturity does that. I have learned that most
issues have — not just two sides — but more like
forty — and that diversity and difference in
thinking and opinion are not weaknesses, but
It is no accident that the stones
in a concrete mix are all different shapes and
sizes. It makes the mix infinitely stronger.
The SCC will be strengthened by making different
background, different perspective, different
mindset, different experience, a part of it.
Diversity is a strength in all things — especially
diversity in thinking.
Compromise, the ability to
find and focus on commonalities instead of
differences, is a strength too. It is an art
form, I think, that comes with time, experience,
and the accumulation of judgment. Real
“wins” occur when all parties have voice and
Assumptions need to be
re-examined from time to time. When the only
rationale for doing something a certain way
becomes “that’s the way we’ve always done
it” it’s probably time to at least take
I know the SCC is no place for
partisanship. We have a long and honorable
tradition of putting partisanship aside where the
SCC is concerned. I know, too, that it is no
place for conflicts of interests. I have
never represented anyone in front of the SCC — no
cause, no case, no person, no company. I
have no conflicts — of interests or conscience.
This SCC appointment is anchored in our
constitution and rooted in our history, but is
really is not about the past. It is about
the future. The world is changing at warp
speed. Capital markets are global — and
hyper-competitive. Information moves around
the planet in real time. Decisions made in
places we can’t find on a map affect us
The certainty we face is
uncertainty — and ever-increasing complexities.
The challenges we face are not interim in nature.
They are complicated, they are long-term, and
they’re not going away.
It has taken me
most of my life, but I believe that I have
acquired the balance, and the contemplative
judgment requisite to addressing these challenges.
For 19 years, Judge Morrison put the people
of Virginia first at the SCC. In doing so,
he set a worthy and lasting example.
January 28, 2007