His greatest concern said state Del. Ira Lechner (D-Arlington), is "twisting an ankle or getting the flu" as he sets out this morning on a 280-mile walk across Virginia from Chespeake to Arlington, stopping in Richmond on the way for the 1977 session of the General Assembly.
Lechner, who hopes to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in June, admits there are "two purposes" for his walk.
"It is part of my campaign for lieutenant governor," he said. But the trek is also meant to drum up support for his bill calling for mandatory sentencing of repeat offenders which he will introduce into the General Assembly, he said.
Lechner's bill would require mandatory sentences without eligibility for parole for repeating felons. It also would increase the penalty significantly each time a person is convicted of the same crime.
"I want to give Virginians freedom from fear," said Lechner, who will meet with victims of violent crimes in the communities he will be hiking through. "It's the law-abiding citizens who are afraid to go out at night and who lock themselves in, while the few thousand repeater criminals in Virginia roam free. I see no reason why we should put up with it," Lechner said.
To prove his point, the state legislator said he figures he will have to walk 2 1/2 miles an hour to cover the 160 miles between Chesapeake and Richmond.He plans to arrive in the capital by Jan. 12, opening day of the General Assembly. He also pledged that when the session ends, he will walk the 120 miles from Richmond to Arlington to report on how his anticrime bill fared.