YOUR HOMETOWN: Landes Brings Rural Sensibility To Richmond

Weyers Cave Keeps Delegate Grounded

Posted: January 9, 2013

Steve and Angela Landes at home in Weyers Cave. Steve is a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates and serves as community relations coordinator for DuPont Community Credit Union. Angela is an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Augusta County. Photo by Preston Knight / DN-R.
WEYERS CAVE — The community surrounding an elected official’s home life can influence his legislative priorities.

For that, Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, is happily guilty as charged.

The area’s longest-tenured delegate, Landes has lived in Weyers Cave with his wife, Angela, since 1994, one year before he was elected to represent the 25th district in the Virginia House of Delegates.

The district includes parts of Rockingham, Augusta and Albemarle counties, and the city of Waynesboro.

Although a native of western Augusta County, Landes, 53, did not develop a great sense of how much agriculture meant to the area until moving to Weyers Cave.

“My dad had a farm, but he was a contractor, so [farming] was more of a hobby,” he said. “I wasn’t in FFA, 4-H. ... Agriculture and agribusiness, that’s such an important part of what Weyers Cave is about.”

Among legislation that Landes has carried to boost agriculture is the creation of an agriculture and forestry industries development fund to promote new and expanded businesses.

Away from politics, he is the community relations coordinator for DuPont Community Credit Union in Waynesboro.

Landes and his wife married in October 1994 and two months later moved into a brick house near Interstate 81 in Weyers Cave.

The “claim to fame” of the house is that it is one of two that stood in the way of I-81’s construction in the area and was moved decades ago, he said.
Landes worked in Staunton for 6th District Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, in the early days of his and Angela’s marriage, while his wife — now an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Augusta County — had a private law practice in Harrisonburg.

Weyers Cave offered the couple a midpoint location, rural setting and easy access to travel because of the interstate and Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, which is just down the road from the hamlet’s business hub.

And, it provided a lot of support by way of friendly neighbors.

“It’s always been just a nice community,” Landes said. “It’s the kind of community where people help each other, but they don’t talk about it.”

The couple moved to Weyers Cave while Landes was working on an insurance license. In the back of his mind, though, was a run for office.

In spring 1995, Del. Pete Giesen, who Landes had worked for before joining Goodlatte’s staff, informed Landes that he was retiring. The opportunity to seek office came earlier than expected.

“It wasn’t the best time,” said Landes, referencing his recent marriage and job transition. But he took the plunge. “I ran for the House, was successful and I’ve been there ever since,” he said.

Last summer, the couple moved to a new house on Lee Highway, near the Augusta-Rockingham County line.

They have a 10-year-old son, Roth, whom they adopted from South Korea in 2003. Since they were both over 40 at the time, the Landeses did not qualify for most domestic adoptions.

Their adoption agency recommended Asian countries.

The community, particularly the Weyers Cave Ruritan Club, has, in effect, helped raise the boy, said Landes, who finished a second one-year term as chapter president in December.

“Most families in the club don’t have kids that young,” he said.

Landes said the community service sprouting from the club might be even more rewarding than serving as a delegate.

That’s because he sees the immediate impact giving back has on his surroundings.

“Laws can take a year or two to see the results,” Landes said. “[In Ruritan], you see it right then, or more importantly, you see it when you serve supper to Cub Scouts.”

Contact Preston Knight at  574-6272 or pknight@dnronline.com



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