The Shad Planker Who Works Behind the Scenes to Reduce Gang Violence
“It’s a fun event, even if you don’t have an agenda.”—Dean Longo
Dean Longo first went to the Shad Planking in 2011, when he was a candidate for the U.S. Congress in the 3rd District of Virginia. 2016 will be his 5th year in a row. As a former candidate, of course he is interested in the politics, but what he likes best is the social aspect. Dean says, “You get to meet people on a personal level in a low-stress environment. It’s a fun event, even if you don’t have an agenda.”
No longer a candidate, Dean Longo is a program director at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Chairman Emeritus for the Virginia Peninsula Republican Assembly. The VPRA is an organization built on the ideal of not just saying, but showing, how Republican ideas work by getting positive results. The VPRA directly helped Virginia modernize its voting machines. Now you can be sure that your vote is secure and that all aspects of the machine are above board; it’s fair for everyone.
Dean and the VPRA seek to unite Republican voices to help implement good policies at the local and state level. The VPRA partnered with an inner city mentoring group called the Original B.R.O.T.H.A.S. Based in Newport News, the group performs Christian Outreach and helps reduce gang violence in high-violence areas. The Original B.R.O.T.H.A.S. and the VPRA worked with Pat Woodbury, Newport News Councilwoman, to bring local gang members to the table. The VPRA is winning hearts and minds through its community-based approach to solving issues.
Dean usually attends the Shad Planking with other VPRA members. However, a major reason he goes is to catch up with colleagues and old friends. The Shad Planking also is a great place to meet new people. One year, Dean was waiting in line for fish and he had a friendly conversation with, surprise! a Democrat blogger. The Shad Planking creates rare opportunities like this. Where else can a Republican candidate and Democratic blogger have a friendly chat while waiting for fish?