Steve Landes: Is fifth term the charm?

Delegate Steve Landes knows quite a lot about spreading manure. And while some might say that's part of the political landscape, he has a valid reason. "When you represent farmers, you learn a lot about their business," he explains.

Manure can be a constituent concern in the 25th District, which includes Augusta County and takes in Crozet in western Albemarle. "I've been asked by constituents to do something about the smell coming onto their land," he relates. "Usually it's people not from Augusta."

Landes, who ran unopposed for his fifth term in the General Assembly, isn't afraid to answer the tough questions. After all, he used to ask them when he was a reporter for the Daily News-Leader in Staunton. "I never feel like a question could be embarrassing," he says. And he isn't afraid to admit when he doesn't know something and has to get back to a reporter.

"I liked asking people questions," he says of his newspapering days, "and learning about different and new things– from the police beat to features to politics."

His love of politics started early. He grew up with politically involved parents in a Republican household in Staunton when Virginia was dominated by Democrats. "My father always liked to root for the underdog," Landes recalls. And he remembers in 1969, when Virginia's first Republican governor, Linwood Holton, ran for office and came to Landes' house.

In 1985, Landes made the jump from journalism to politics, working for Pete Geisen's unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, and he never looked back.

Landes' day job is executive director of Newbiz Virginia, a small-business incubator that includes Albemarle's Bake'mmm Bagels.

And being a delegate is virtually another full-time job. "I spend a lot of time in Albemarle," he says. "My job is to represent its citizens whether they're Republican, Democrat, independent, or don't even vote."

He says there's a lot of crossover between the folks in western Albemarle and Augusta. "A lot of people who live in Crozet shop in Waynesboro because it's closer and they don't want to deal with 29. And a lot of people in Augusta work in Albemarle," he explains.

Landes admires the view in Crozet: "I live in Weyer's Cave, on the other side of that view."

The differences between the two counties? Albemarle is wealthier and more highly educated, says Landes. But the counties share some issues, in particular, growth– how to pay for it and keep natural areas beautiful and open.

He notes one more thing that differentiates this side of the mountain from Augusta: With Albemarle's horse farms and vineyards, "There's not as much manure."

Age: I'll be 44 November 15.

What do you like best about Charlottesville? Sense of history and tradition

What do you like least? Traffic around the University

Favorite hangout? Rowe's Family Restaurant

Most overrated virtue? Individual independence

What would people be surprised to know about you? I was a newspaper reporter early in my career.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Having more patience than I do now

What accomplishment are you proudest of? Serving in the House of Delegates

What do people find most annoying about you? I tend to be organized and neat.

Whom do you admire? Former President Ronald Reagan

Favorite book? The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

 What subject causes you to rant? People who do not get all the facts before they act

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? The Internet and email

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? Government intrusion in our lives

What do you drive? A 2000 dark blue Chrysler Sebring LXI

What's in your car CD player right now? Wagner orchestral music

What's your next journey? Hopefully a weekend getaway with my wife to celebrate our anniversary

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? Getting caught climbing up into the church steeple with some buddies

What do you regret? Not applying myself in school like I should have

Favorite comfort food? Mashed potatoes

What's always in your refrigerator? Dr. Pepper

Must-see TV? Enterprise (Star Trek)

Favorite cartoon? Roadrunner

Describe a perfect day. Having a beautiful clear fall day to take a drive to look at the changing leaves with my wife and son, then a home-cooked dinner at home, and after putting our son to bed, a quiet evening with my wife

Walter Mitty fantasy? Commanding a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

Who'd play you in the movie? Harrison Ford

Most embarrassing moment? Putting a chair leg on my future wife's foot at the dinner when we first met

Best advice you ever got? "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." Former President Reagan gave that advice.

Favorite bumper sticker? "Freedom Isn't Free"

Steve Landes