Candidate Essay: Stephanie Clifford

by ARLnow.com August 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm 3,919 35 Comments

Earlier this week, we asked the two Democratic candidates for the 49th District House of Delegates seat to write a sub-750 word essay on why the district’s residents should vote for them.

Here is the unedited response from Stephanie Clifford:

I have lived in Virginia’s 49th District for nearly a decade and am a proud member of this community. I am a mother, small business owner, and a proud Democrat. I am running for the House of Delegates because I care deeply about our community, and I want to ensure that our shared community values continue to be heard in Richmond.

When meeting with members of our community about the needs of our district, we’ve talked about many issues that affect us, including:

  • Transportation and the Environment
  • Education
  • Equality for ALL Virginians


The Columbia Pike corridor is the most heavily traveled bus route in Virginia, and is at the heart of our district. As your delegate, I will ensure that the voices of this district’s residents are heard when it comes to projects like the proposed Columbia Pike Streetcar.  Our community will benefit from increased development, but it should not come at the expense of losing the diversity that makes this district a great place to live.


A well-funded public transportation system is the key to smart growth and better jobs for our district.  Smart growth will benefit our community by putting in place environmentally friendly policies which address air quality, energy usage, and runoff into our waterways. Virginia must be a leader in this area, and as your delegate, I will continue to identify hazards to our health, and work to improve our environment for our community.


Today Virginia ranks in the bottom half of the country in terms of access to universal Pre-K education for children. In order to attract and maintain quality jobs and a strong economy, we must have a workforce that is better-educated than that of our competitors.  When the Kaine administration abolished the estate tax, Pre-K education felt the pinch and has suffered from underfunding ever since.  As your delegate, I will fight for the reinstatement of the estate tax to help pay for this very important program.


My candidacy is as much about people as it is about policies. A primary reason for my entering the race was that I witnessed LGBT individuals and families, including close friends of mine and many members of our district, being treated as second-class citizens due to Virginia’s discriminatory laws.

Elected officials have a responsibility to maintain the dialogue about the unequal treatment our of fellow community members. I am proud to be a strong ally of the LGBT community, and I have been an active member of groups such as the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance, the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT Democrats of Virginia and Virginia Partisans, and the Arlington Young Democrats LGBT Caucus.

All families should be recognized with the rights that comes with marriage and adoption.  Whether it’s in the tax code, employment policies, or simply the status associated to the term “marriage,” full equality and civil rights for all Virginians are critical to the future of Virginia.

Women’s Rights

I am a fierce defender of choice and will work to strengthen a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health care. Earlier this year, the GOP controlled legislature passed a law that could close the majority of reproductive health care clinics in Virginia. This is simply unacceptable, and as delegate I will be a leader for women’s reproductive rights.

Elected officials, past and present, with years of experience, including Sen. Patsy Ticer, Del. Kaye Kory, Congresswoman Leslie Byrne, Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary, and Arlington School Board Member James Lander, have endorsed my campaign because they recognize my collective experience, personality, and work ethic will be assets in Richmond for our community.

Community leaders including former ACDC Chair Peter Rousselot, VA Partisans President Tiffany Joslyn, and Virginia NOW’s Marj Signer have endorsed my campaign, because they recognize that strengthening our community is paramount.

Advocacy Groups like NARAL-Pro Voice Virginia, Women’s Campaign Forum, The LGBT Democrats of Virginia PAC – Virginia Partisans, and Virginia NOW have endorsed my candidacy because I have made equality for all Virginians a cornerstone of my campaign. These groups recognize that I will be an effective voice for women’s choice and LGBT rights.

The next 49th District Delegate must be someone who has the practical experience, temperament, and judgment to advance our shared community values in Richmond.  I am that candidate.

On August 23, I ask for your vote as the candidate with the perspective and experience to bring your values and your voice to Richmond.

  • novasteve

    Are there even republican options or do they not even bother here in Arlington?

    • Loocy

      Not in a Democratic primary, no. The Republican will be an option in November.

  • RosslynBoom

    i keep reading these posts about the political races. it just doesn’t seem to matter who wins, they are tiny little powerless leaders.

  • JimPB

    Kudos to ARLNow.Com for extending the invitation.

  • Lou

    I’d like to know that these essays came from the candidate themselves, without consultant help. Like, put them in a room with a proctor and make them write it out in 60 minutes.

    Other than that, great idea. Like giving them homework.

  • KalashniKEV

    I read as far as the Tax Hike… Absolutely NOT!

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      You mean the reinstatement of the tax on money that has already been taxed??? Totally agree with you.

    • normal

      Which is why it’s probably a good idea.

  • TGEoA

    What business does she own?

    • Captain Obvious

      Her husband started a photography business.

      • Captain Obvious

        Hey! You don’t have your promotion yet, you’re still 1st Lieutenant Obvious!

      • TGEoA

        Looks like it is more of a hobby. And it seems his number one client is taking photos of the local dem crap.

    • Captain Obvious

      She worked for the Podesta Group http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podesta_Group as “Associate and Director of Special Events” but had to quit when she entered the race.

      • TGEoA

        aka catering.

  • Burger

    I’d question what type of small business she ran, I see it is a photography business, because one of the biggest issues facing small business is succession planning and with it goes estate taxes.

    Lastly, most of the positions to which she started off with (and rational person would assume is her most important) are local issues that are being debated at the County level – like the Street Car which is a being managed by the County not the state. The state turned over rights to the County for the Columbia Pike trolley because they saw what a disaster it is going to be.

    So, again, I question whether she even comes close to having the right experience much less enough experience to represent her district in Richmond.

  • 1234

    To date she is the only one that’s come to my front door (of the many that have) that actually seemed like an honest person, and not a talking head in the making. While my border collie and 2 year old kept me from having an extended conversation, I’ll absolutely pay attention to her platform.

  • Gordon

    Cliffords Photography.

    • CW

      Not sure if I would include a good with a street sign through its head as part of my photography portfolio, but that’s just me.

      • CW


  • JimPB

    Preschool education sounds good, but for enhancing the educational capabilities and educational achievement of children from disadvantaged families, the evaluation data are conclusive: at best such gains are minute and transitory. Evaluations of interventions with older children from disadvantaged children find similar discouraging effects. But it’s not hopeless. NIH research (see Meaningful Differences by Todd Risley and Betty Hart) points to a promising focus and a subsequent use of the findings in an intervention obtained large (transformative is not too strong a word) and enduring effects. The science base in a phrase: children develop vocabulary in relation to their exposure to and verbal interaction with caretakers. And vocabulary correlates better than .9 with verbal IQ. By age 3, children who had had a high rate of exposure and verbal interactions had a vocabulary so far beyond that of children who had minimal exposure and interactions (typical for children of disadvantaged families) that even a subsequent verbal exposure and interaction rich environment for 40 hrs. a week for an extended period (years) would not eliminate the gap. So, a clear implication of this NIH research was that early intervention was essential. The intervention: 20 hours/wk. of in-home visitation for verbal interaction with children from 8 mos. to 3 yrs. of age from disadvantaged families. The results: transformative and enduring — at 4th grade, average IQs 100 (vs. like IQs of around 80) and educational achievement at grade level (vs. educational achievement likely more than a grade level behind).

    • Observer

      This is fascinating research. Thank you for sharing this. As much as we try to make changes in education policy, at a fundamental level it really is all about the parents.

  • HP2000

    One of the clients of Clifford’s Photography is Australian Penthouse. Things JUST got interesting!

  • Piker

    I find this essay incredibly devoid of substance. No concrete proposals on anything. Take the Transportation statement: Is she for the Columbia Pike Streetcar or is she against it? She doesn’t even say. Sounds like a typical politician to me.

    • Cate

      I think her point is that whatever her constituents’ opinions are, those are the ones she will represent.

      But it’s not a state issue, as mentioned below, so I don’t think that will ultimately be relevant.

  • Quan

    You know that the streetcar is a local issue and not a state one and this is a state office, right?

    • Burger

      I found that interesting too.

      To me it belies her total lack of experience and will be a sheep to the wolves in Richmond.

    • savvy


  • Quan

    I’d like to see anyone on this site actually say something to a candidate in person. That goes for the people on here that work for candidates as well. Be a man, or a woman, whatever. Say it to each other’s faces.

    • TGEoA

      Got a chip on your shoulder? I’d knock it off if you want.

    • John Snyder

      Bravo Quan!

    • Burger

      I would. I think all five essayist are sort naive and dumb. I would have no problem pointing out their inconsistencies and where their arguments make no sense.

  • Rebecca

    One of this lady’s political helpers keeps leaving those damn pamphlets under my door but only half way so people know whether or not I am home. I have 3 of them already. Just for that, I am NOT voting for this chick.

    • Jezebel

      That, my lady, is about the weakest argument I’ve ever read on this blog.

      • Tabby

        How about this: a mid-morning, work day Robocall from an unknown #? That’s a first, even for this ridiculous race.

        • FedUp

          You obviously don’t understand the technicalities of a robo call. They do not originate from a land line, but from a computer. Wake up, people, this is not your grandfather’s campaign!


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