It’d be understandable if you saw Peter Farrell in the General Assembly Building and thought he was a legislative intern. With his earnest smile and tight haircut, he could easily pass for a college student. But Farrell isn’t working for a lawmaker; he is one.
From Capital News Service, Daniel Lombardo
It would be understandable if you saw Peter Farrell in the General Assembly Building and thought he was a legislative intern. With his earnest smile and tight haircut, he could easily pass for a college student.
But Farrell isn’t working for a lawmaker; he is one. He represents the 56th House District, which includes Louisa County and parts of Goochland, Henrico and Spotsylvania counties.
At 28 – he’ll turn 29 in June – Farrell is the third youngest member of the House. (In age, he comes after Joe Yost, 25, of Blacksburg and Tazewell County’s Will Morefield, who turned 28 in January.)
Farrell, a Republican, doesn’t let his age or newcomer status hold him back. He brings a light, unassuming attitude to his job, with a willingness to meet anyone.
“I have an open-door policy,” Farrell said. “If I’m here, I will talk to them.”
Being among the youngest of the 100 delegates can be an advantage: It gives Farrell a fresh perspective on issues – and an opportunity to be a voice for the next generation. “I think it’s a good thing. We have every right to serve,” he said. “We’re the group of people that are buying our first houses, our first home.”
Farrell graduated from the University of Virginia in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in government. He is the founder of Recast Energy, which provides thermal energy to industrial customers. In his business, Farrell said that he has dealt with government regulations and red tape and that he understands “the necessity of a business climate that encourages investments and growth.”
A vice chairman of the Henrico County Republican Committee, Farrell describes himself as “a commonsense conservative who knows we need to get back to the basics.”
Farrell entered the 56th House District race after the incumbent delegate, Bill Janis, resigned to run for commonwealth’s attorney in Henrico County. GOP leaders selected Farrell as the party’s nominee, and he ran unopposed for the seat. In his campaign, Farrell vowed to “work to grow our economy in Virginia, create new jobs, reduce unnecessary government regulation and promote quality education.”
Despite his age, Farrell is no stranger to the corridors of power. His father, Thomas Farrell, is president, chairman, and chief executive officer of Dominion Resources, the Richmond-based energy conglomerate. Gov. Bob McDonnell appointed the elder Farrell to chair the Governor’s Higher Education Commission and to sit on Virginia Commonwealth University’s governing board.
Peter Farrell raised more than $133,000 for his House campaign. The Republican Party chipped in $22,000, Farrell’s father donated $10,000, and several large contributions came from prominent Richmond-area residents.
For instance, Richard Cullen, chairman of the McGuireWoods law firm, gave Farrell $8,325, and William Goodwin Jr., chairman of CCA Industries, provided $5,000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which compiles campaign finance data.
In a recent interview in his Capitol Square office, Farrell said the strength of the General Assembly is that it includes people from all walks of life. “We’re a citizen legislature. We have doctors and a wide array of perspectives to start out with a bill,” Farrell said. “So many people see it, so we have a vast array of different perspectives.”
He filed 11 bills for consideration this legislative session. Two already have passed the House – including a measure that would give health care providers access to the state’s data on immunizations and newborn screening records.
Government operations and politics weren’t on Farrell’s mind when he was growing up. Instead, he dreamed of being an actor. After a failed attempt in New York City at achieving his Hollywood dreams, Farrell set his sights on other endeavors.
His interest in movies still lives with him, and he spends his free time enjoying films.
Like Jimmy Stewart’s self-effacing character in the Frank Capra classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” Farrell said he hopes to make a difference in government.
“I hope I’m easygoing, willing to listen,” Farrell said. “I hope I’m not boring.”