By JOHN DOWNS, SR
Chesapeake’s latest elected office holder has a proven formula for success. “I tend to listen much more than I talk.” explains Chesapeake’s popular new State Senator, John A. Cosgrove, “It’s a philosophy that has served me and my constituents very well.” Cosgrove was sworn in on Friday, August 16th in a ceremony in the state capitol in Richmond. He won a special August 6th election to fill the remaining term of retiring State Senator Harry Blevins. “No one can ever replace Harry Blevins,” Cosgrove says sincerely, “He is one of the most respected legislators in Richmond on both sides of the aisle.”
While Cosgrove’s 14th senatorial district represents Chesapeake, it also includes parts of Isle of Wight County, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Southampton County, Franklin, and Portsmouth. “It’s a pretty big area and I intend to work as hard as I can to represent all of the citizens in my district,” Cosgrove promises. On Election Day, Cosgrove exhibited some of the energy that has characterized the enthusiasm with which he represents the voters in his district. He made a marathon swing in just twelve hours to 20 precincts stretching from Whaleyville in Suffolk, to Blackwater in Virginia Beach, and then back to his home city of Chesapeake.
Cosgrove makes the short move to the Senate from Virginia’s House of Delegates where he has served from 2001 to the present. He developed a reputation in the House of Delegates for outstanding service to his constituents while establishing his credentials as a solid conservative. Cosgrove has been chief sponsor of legislation in the House including the Constitutional Amendment on Marriage which preserves traditional marriage in the Commonwealth, the “Laci Peterson Bill” which makes it murder to kill the child of an expectant mother, and other bills which establish Veterans’ Recognition Week and a School Supply Sales Tax Holiday.
John Cosgrove first served in elective office as a member of the Chesapeake City Council. He was elected in 1998 and served as Chesapeake’s Vice Mayor from 2000 to 2001. His encouragement to seek political office came from current United States Congressman Randy Forbes. “Randy is a dear friend, mentor, and is himself an outstanding public servant,” Cosgrove said. “We are indeed fortunate to have a man of his caliber representing us in Washington.”
Cosgrove served in the United States Navy as an Aerospace Engineering Officer and graduated from Old Dominion University in 1985 with a degree in electrical engineering. “As an engineer, I guess I like to fix things that need working on,” Cosgrove says with a smile.” His “mending” skills were in abundant evidence on two of the most important bills he sponsored for his constituents in the Hampton Roads area. The Restructuring of the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) and the reform of the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority are examples of Cosgrove’s ability to streamline bureaucracy and make government agencies more responsive to the needs of its citizens. He also was able to work with State Corrections officials to successfully resolve a dispute involving new construction at the Chesapeake City Jail.
Virginia’s Law Enforcement community has always strongly supported Cosgrove in his bid for public office. Both the Virginia State Police Association and the Fraternal Order of Police have selected him as their Legislator of the Year. He has also been designated as Legislator of the Year by the prestigious Family Foundation.
Scott Matheson is a City Councilman from Chesapeake and a strong supporter of John Cosgrove. “I think John Cosgrove is exactly what voters in Chesapeake look for in a leader,” he shares, “And that’s why they keep electing him. He favors a commonsense approach to governing with an emphasis on smaller government. These are good conservative values and I know John will make an outstanding Virginia State Senator.”
Cosgrove’s love of singing and music led to a chance meeting with his future wife Sue when they both attended Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music. They married in 1978. “For 34 wonderful, adventurous years, Sue has been my friend, a mentor, and the love of my life,” he shares. “I always run things by her because her opinion is so valuable.” He adds with a broad grin, “I really believe that if you can’t win the vote on the home front, you might be in real trouble.” The Cosgroves have two sons, Mike, 32, who works in the hospitality industry, and Brian, 27, who is employed by the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Cosgrove quickly adds, “We also have a wonderful daughter-in-law, Katie, who is a school teacher.”
The Cosgrove family members attend Great Bridge Baptist Church and are active in supporting a number of community and charitable activities including the Honor and Remember Flag Campaign and the Wounded Warriors Project. He occasionally enjoys a round of golf and looks forward to quiet dinners with family and friends.
“I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have the help and support of so many dedicated and talented people,” Cosgrove remarks, “My legislative aide Christie Craig has been invaluable to me and fortunately will continue in that position in the Senate. I also want to thank all the volunteers who worked so many long hours in my behalf. A political campaign is a team effort, and I have no doubt that I have the best team anyone could ever hope for.”
As a rising star in Virginia’s Republican politics, Cosgrove is a proven vote-getter who easily won his Party’s “firehouse primary” this summer and then ran unopposed for the August 6th election after his opponent dropped out of the race. He has focused his legislative skills in a number of important areas including public safety, education, transportation, and protecting the Chesapeake Bay. He considers himself a staunch ally in the fight to protect family values in the Commonwealth.
Senator Cosgrove is quite anxious to open this new chapter in his amazing political career. “The work in the Senate will double for me yet I can’t wait to get started,” he shares enthusiastically. “There will be a period of adjustment and learning for me I am sure. They do things just a little differently than in the House of Delegates. But I’m already thinking about legislation to reform some of our election laws. I think they need a little tinkering,” he said.
Spoken like someone who is used to fixing things.