Taylor Matricardi has politics in his blood.
The 13-year-old seventh grader at Floyd T. Binns Middle School, can trace his lineage back to five Presidents and that history has only stoked his love of the political game. It’s only fitting that he served as a Virginia House of Delegates Page this past session of the General Assembly, being selected as one of the 40 pages by former Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell.
“I think it’s just a great experience to have overall,” Taylor said of serving as a page. “You get to meet a lot of people and learn about the government and how it works, how bills are passed and laws are made.”
Taylor, the son of Ed and Teresa Matricardi, of Reva, can link himself to Zachary Taylor, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison through his mother’s side. His full name – Jefferson Taylor Matricardi – belies his historic connections. It’s that lineage and his family’s love of politics and history that has stoked his interest in becoming a delegate in the future. In 2015, he started his path to becoming a page by serving with his sister Marie Clare – herself a page in the 2016 session – for Howell’s reelection campaign.
The Matricardi siblings went door to door in Fredericksburg to help with his campaign and Marie Clare served in his office on election night. For Ed, the former head of the Virginia Republican Party from 1999-2002, it was important to have his children make that impression on the house speaker in an effort to be recognized when it became time to be elected as a page.
“I was proud they were willing to make the commitment to do what they needed to do to be picked by the speaker of the house,” Ed said. “It’s a very competitive program, they have hundreds of applicants.”
Today, Virginia has one of the most extensive page programs in the country serving the Virginia State Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates. Assisting during the regular session of the General Assembly, some 40 pages were selected from across the Commonwealth to help in the House of Delegates.
While learning, pages are working, and paid for their experiences but, like any employee, they are expected to conduct themselves professionally.
Once selected, Taylor went to work for 60 days, earning a paycheck by running errands for the delegates, fetching lunches and drinks. The pages reported to work everyday at 8:30 a.m. and worked until 5 p.m., splitting into two groups – the “A” and “B” teams – with one group serving on the house floor and the other working behind the scenes.
Throughout the experience, Taylor said he learned to take care of himself – setting his alarm and learning how to tie his own tie.
“It definitely taught me a lot of independence,” Taylor said. “I had to take responsibility.”
At end of the session he was voted the Page Most Likely to be a Delegate, the Smartest Page and Page Most Likely to Be Caught on Camera in the Chamber.
The pages also had an opportunity to present their own bills, and Taylor placed one for putting armed guards in schools. It passed by a 25-8-1 vote.
While at the House of Delegates, he interacted with local delegates Nick Freitas (R-30) and Michael Webert (R-18), having his picture taken with Freitas in his seat on the first day of the GA.
“It’s nice because they treat us more like colleagues than kids,” Taylor said.
Each year since 1848 the Speaker of the House of Delegates appoints 13 and 14-year-olds from across the Commonwealth to serve as House pages during the regular session of the General Assembly.
“I’m just happy they got that opportunity,” Teresa said. “I’m proud of them for taking the initiative and the responsibility to pursue it. I think it just taught them so much about government and how it really works.”
Marie Clare, now a ninth grader at Eastern View High School, said it was pretty cool to be able to share notes with her little brother.
“It was really exciting,” Marie Clare said. “They have a page reunion every year so I went down with a bunch of my friends from my page class and got to see his class. It was just really cool.”
Taylor admits that it’s not likely many of his other classmates have his interest in politics, but says it’s important to him to understand where we have come from as a nation and how politicians shape our future.
“It was just humbling to serve and be part of the heritage of Virginia,” Taylor said.
“I definitely think I’m in the minority when it comes to thinking about politics this early,” Taylor said.