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January 18, 2009

Press Release: Martinsville Bulletin

Sunday, January 18, 2009

By KIM BARTO - Bulletin Staff Writer

Nearly 70 supporters and local elected officials gathered Saturday evening to watch the ceremonial swearing-in of 5th District U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.

After Perriello, D-Albemarle, took the oath of office from Rev. Tyler Millner, attendees gave him a standing ovation with cheers and whistles.

"I ask you to witness this oath and hold me accountable to it every day I am in office," Perriello said. "I belong to you."

The event was one of several ceremonial swearing-in events held throughout the district this weekend, recreating his official swearing-in to his first term in Congress Jan. 6 in Washington D.C.

"People wonder why we bother to do this ceremony," Perriello said. "But in the original Constitution of the United States, the House of Representatives was the only office directly elected by the people."

Because the House always has been "the people's House," he said, "it is important to me that I take this oath in front of the people of the 5th District."

Perriello urged residents to view the economic recovery plan posted on the House Web site and to share their concerns with him.

"Please send me your comments and ideas," he said. "Please continue to consider our offices open to you, and who knows - maybe sometime we'll have an office here in Martinsville."

When it comes to the country's economic problems, "there are no quick fixes," he said. "If we do not invest in infrastructure, education and work force development, we're not going to see this turn around."

Before Perriello took the oath, Del. Ward Armstrong, Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson and Vice Mayor Kimble Reynolds Jr. also spoke.

Armstrong said the museum was an "interesting" location for the ceremony because "this building is steeped in the past, yet here we are on this day, looking straight to the future."

Even with the "great economic troubles" facing the country, "I know you are up for the challenge," he told Perriello.

Lawson encouraged Perriello to "fight hard to give us the resources we need to continue improving our infrastructure, supporting our schools and growing our economic base so that we will once again have an abundant supply of high-quality jobs ... and a diverse work force of talented people ready to fill those positions."

In turn, Lawson said, local officials promise to "make certain that you are aware of our needs" and to be "responsible and proactive stewards of the resources you bring to us."

Reynolds, a member of Perriello's transition team, said the congressman has "made a deliberate effort to let Martinsville know that he is aware of its needs" and supports "a vision and plan that helps to revitalize our economy and community."

Reynolds praised him for "working toward solutions" and making "jobs and economic growth his first priority."