A Servant Leader

Bill Mims, Associate Justice, Virginia Supreme Court

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Bill Mims is one of the treasures of Virginia government. Currently, he is an associate justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. His prior service includes representing Loudoun County in the House of Delegates and the State Senate and serving as Attorney General (appointment).

He is known widely throughout the state for his talks on servant leadership. I had the privilege of hearing him speak on this subject twice. If I have another chance, I will eagerly take advantage of it. If you have such an opportunity, it will be well worth it if you seize it.

I bring him up here because, in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch,  he offers some wonderful thoughts on how to deal with the pandemic. This offering is in the paper’s Faith and Values weekly feature.

Mims is a frequent contributor to this feature.  For a sampling of his writing, here is one on mercy and one on servant leadership.

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20 responses to “A Servant Leader

  1. Can’t read RTD – even though they are owned by the same company that owns FLS….

    Am familiar with the concept of Servant Leadership… safe to say it’s not exactly widespread! 😉

    And I note the man is yet another one of those “vulnerable” that some blab here about needing to go hide to be “protected”.

    • Servant Leadership is actually fairly widespread in the religious community. It’s also found in leadership education. That doesn’t mean that many of our current leaders embrace it, but the concept has been around a long time.

  2. The day the House Democrats revealed their gerrymandered map in Spring 1991, in the old House Room C, I went immediately to the nearby pay phone (remember those?) and called Bill Mims up in Loudoun. They had unwittingly drawn the perfect House district for him to win in November. I tried so hard not to be seen grinning. My other strong political memory is a meeting with him and Mark Earley, saying you guys decide who runs for AG because either of you can win but if you both run, it would rip me up….Ah, the William and Mary mafia! What a great governor he would be….(one can dream.)

    • Steve, you cannot be correct. Only the GOP has ever gerrymandered districts. Just ask the Post editorial board. Truth-tellers like Senator Chap Peterson would tell you differently.

    • After I retired I worked part time as a Special Ass’t AG and had the pleasure of working with Mims of a couple of complex maters. “Treasure” understates his intelligence, competence, kindness, and generosity. “Awesome” would come closer to describing him.

  3. Virginia Constitution …

    “Members of the House of Representatives of the United States and members of the Senate and of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts established by the General Assembly. Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district. The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts in accordance with this section in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter.”

    To emphasize … ” … shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory …”.

    The obvious intent was to minimize gerrymandering in Virginia.

    Anybody looking at Virginia’s political districts can not possibly see contiguous and compact territory.

    And what did the Virginia Supreme Court say? They couldn’t define the words compact and contiguous so any districts are OK?

    Isn’t defining words and interpreting the intent of those who wrote constitutions what courts do?

    Virginia is left with a constitution that prohibits gerrymandering but the most partisan gerrymandered state in America.


    You’ll forgive me if I don’t join you in celebrating the Virginia Supreme Court.

  4. Can we get back to Mims and the other good guys in both parties? I include Petersen in that, BTW.

  5. Yep, its hard to hold the court accountable when our legislature so jealously protects its territory. The General Assembly appoints our judges. Thus, judges have to be careful how they view things if they want to keep their jobs given whatever political reality exists when they’re deciding. Folks have a tendency to say “courts will interpret” and then “courts better not interpret differently than I.”

    Sadly, as we saw again this Session, the General Assembly doesn’t often firmly address with the really hard issues like ethics and gerrymandering. Those who feel empowered, regardless of which party it is currently, want control and back off from previously anticipated compromise.

  6. Sadly, there are mathematical methods, modifiable by constraints to avoid blind unfairness due to geography, to fairly create compact districts that would favor neither party nor incumbent.

  7. If you read older Virginia redistricting cases, one finds that the courts required compact districts that recognize communities of interest and geographic boundaries. Of course, the party in power, generally the Democrats since the decline of the Readjusters and up to the ascendency of George Allen as Governor, would try to gerrymander. Duh!

    I support the proposed constitutional amendment to form a commission for redistricting. However, one issue that complicates redistricting is the Voting Rights Act and the federally blessed racial gerrymandering. I’m not arguing here for or against it. I just recognize its a factor.

    If a state must gerrymander districts to make safe districts for racial minorities, it’s impossible to have the rest of the districts compact and based on recognized geographic boundaries. If, for example, 10 districts have winding boundaries to comply with the VRA, there are many other districts that will have winding boundaries simply because they border the gerrymandered districts.

    I’ve never read a good discussion of this issue.

    • gerrymandering was done for political reasons, yes but also for racial reasons to inhibit the election of black representatives… so then the courts reversed that and went one step further and REQUIRED districts that were favorable for blacks.

      In retrospect, that was wrong but the problem was not only gerrymandering but efforts to inhibit voting also – and resistance to make it easier to vote.

      There is no question what-so-ever that if it were easier to vote that even less GOP would be in office. That is pretty much self-evident so we have this little dance going on with respect to gerrymandering and I see no GOP advocating for true compact and contiguous districts along with black communities of interest… either…

      The GOP will lose if we do it right – and the GOP continues to represent it’s own philosophies and not the voters interests. That’s their biggest problem – they really hew to their own philosophy no matter what – and NoVa is proof of that. Does the GOP run in NoVa to gain votes? Nope.

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I had Judge Mims daughter in class many years ago. I remember she was a student page for the General Assembly. Next thing you know I am sponsoring Model General Assembly run by the YMCA. What a terrific program for teens to be involved in. They get to take over the state capitol and play the role of our elected leaders. I must say there were some great common sense ideas coming from teens that would have been useful to the real leaders. The Mims family is a true Virginia treasure.

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