Former Virginia House Speaker, Norfolk Treasurer Dies at 87

27 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Thomas Moss, former House speaker and Norfolk treasurer, dies.

Moss was elected to the House of Delegates as an outsider in 1965 and navigated the halls of power with political skill and wit for 36 years, including nine years as the House speaker. He was a skilled vote-counter, also known for injecting his sense of humor into public proceedings. “I’m chairman of this committee, and I’ll get the laughs in here,” he would scold people who tried the same. During his tenure, Republicans made steady gains, eventually picking up enough House seats to take over the body, costing the Democrat the speaker’s job in 2000. Moss told voters that the area was being short-changed by Richmond, charging, for instance, that Old Dominion College got the least amount of aid per student compared with other state colleges.

Initially, the anti-establishment Moss championed issues such as the rights of mental patients, and he fought auto insurance rate hikes, Pilot reporter Margaret Edds wrote in a 1979 profile. In 1978, Moss defended himself in the House after a Washington Star article alleged he sponsored alcohol-related legislation that could aid clients of his law firm. He was personally responsible for steering hundreds of millions of dollars in state money to Norfolk and surrounding communities, said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist.

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