Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) and Republican challenger Adam Roosevelt clashed on whether Virginia should expand Medicaid, but found agreement on immigration, during a candidate forum on Tuesday night (September 5).
Lopez, who has represented the 49th District for three terms in the Virginia House of Delegates and serves as the Minority Whip, said expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act should be done for moral and economic reasons. That plan has been unsuccessful both through the General Assembly and executive action.
“There are working families without health insurance in Virginia,” Lopez said. “It’s immoral not to expand Medicaid.”
But Roosevelt, who is challenging Lopez in the district that includes neighborhoods along Columbia Pike, around Pentagon City and west to Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners in Fairfax County, said it is unaffordable and will cost Virginians more in tax dollars.
“That is what they will not tell you: your taxes will increase, and we have enough taxes as it is,” Roosevelt said. The debate, at Virginia Hospital Center, was attended by about 100 people.
The rivals appeared to be in broad agreement on immigration and the status of illegal immigrants, the same day as President Donald Trump announced he would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. To start, they agreed that illegal immigrants who commit crimes in this country should be deported.
Both also pledged to protect legal migrants and undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children and have otherwise not committed crimes. Lopez said decisions about immigration must come from the federal level, not the state.
“What we have is a fundamentally broken immigration system at the federal level,” he said.
At times, there were frosty moments between the two as they sparred over issues like climate change, a woman’s right to choose and redistricting reform. After Lopez outlined his record on the environment, including co-founding the Virginia Environment & Renewable Energy caucus to advocate for issues in Richmond and across the state, Roosevelt cut in.
“I’ll remind my opponent we’re talking about the 49th District here,” Roosevelt said, arguing that the discussion should be focused more on local issues than statewide topics.
Later, the two disagreed on how boundaries should be redrawn for Virginia’s Congressional and General Assembly. Boundaries will be redrawn after the next census in 2020, but that could come sooner depending on a case making its way through the courts.
Lopez called for a non-partisan commission to draw new boundaries separate from General Assembly leadership, but Roosevelt said he had not done enough in Richmond to bring about such changes.
“My opponent has quite a voice tonight and quite a position to stand in to effect these changes,” he said.
And the pair differed on their belief in a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. Roosevelt said the life of both the woman and a fetus must be protected and said the issue should not be politicized, but Lopez did not equivocate in his view and criticized others in the General Assembly who have tried to take the right to choose away.
“How many times do we have to get up on the floor of the House of Delegates and fight people who want to take away a woman’s right to choose?” he asked.
Lopez and Roosevelt are on the ballot on November 7, while Arlington’s three other delegates are all unopposed.
Today Is ‘Terrible Traffic Tuesday’ — Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day, when students in Arlington and around the region go back to school. As a result of the extra school buses, parents and students on the roads, and the end of summer vacations, it is also dubbed “Terrible Traffic Tuesday” by AAA Mid-Atlantic. In reality, however, the day after — which now has a name: “Woeful Wednesday” — is worse in terms of commuting times, and next week should be even more woeful. [Washington Post, WTOP]
Chili’s Dying Out in D.C. Area — The Chili’s in Bailey’s Crossroads has closed. The restaurant chain closed its Crystal City location last year and its Reston location the year before that. The nearest Chili’s to Arlington is now along Route 1, outside the Beltway, in Fairfax County. [Twitter]
Roosevelt Profiled by Conservative Media — GOP candidate Adam Roosevelt is getting some attention from conservative media outlets. Roosevelt “is a moderate Republican running for the Virginia House of Delegates against current Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez, who has never before faced a GOP opponent during his six years in office,” writes the Daily Caller, calling the district he’s running in, which includes part of Arlington, “far left.” The lead sentence in Newsmax’s article about Roosevelt has a different focus: “A conservative Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, who happens to be black, has recently emerged as one of the most spirited advocates of keeping Confederate statues up in the Old Dominion State.” [Daily Caller, Newsmax]
Webb Removed from Civ Fed Debate — School Board candidate Mike Webb has had his invitation to tonight’s Arlington County Civic Federation debate — the unofficial kickoff to campaign season in Arlington — rescinded because he reportedly “failed to return required paperwork in time to allow participation.” Allison Dough, the other candidate to challenge Democratic endorsee Monique O’Grady, has said she has other commitments and will be unable to attend the debate. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Evicted From ‘Big Brother’ House — Arlington resident Matt Clines, 33, has been evicted from the Big Brother house. Clines had advanced about half-way through the CBS reality show before being voted off. [Reality TV World, Parade, Hollywood Reporter]
DeVos to Make Big Announcement in Arlington — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is reportedly planning to make a “major announcement on Title IX, the campus gender equality law,” from George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington on Thursday. [BuzzFeed]
Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster
Political newcomer Adam Roosevelt said he knew at the age of 13 years old that he wanted to run for the Virginia House of Delegates.
He grew up in Norfolk, Va., in what he described as a “ghetto” neighborhood that struggled with gangs and poverty.
But at 13, he was inspired after meeting a local woman named Mrs. Bell, who spent her life donating money to the needy and taking trips to Africa to feed the hungry.
The 25-year-old began by serving in the U.S. Army, which included two tours in Afghanistan and a stint at NATO. He filed to run for the 49th District of the House of Delegates earlier this year on a platform he calls “Let’s Secure Virginia,” focusing on education, transportation, small business and veterans’ affairs.
The Pentagon City resident faces the task of trying to unseat Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), a three-term incumbent who also serves as Minority Whip for the Democratic caucus. The district includes neighborhoods along Columbia Pike and near the Pentagon, as well as parts of Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners in Fairfax County.
If elected, Roosevelt said one of his major priorities would be improving education in the district. With a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as encouraging more students to study medicine, he said he wants to help young people be competitive in the job market.
And to help do that, Roosevelt said he would be open to adding more charter schools and vouchers, which would provide government money redeemable for tuition fees at a non-public school. He said the growth of such schools helps encourage competition.
“It forces our teachers to have to get more certifications and get more education, and we’re going to start providing a system there that by competitive nature allows for higher quality and it allows our parents to have the opportunity to say, ‘I want my son to go to that school, I like the curriculum, that school’s doing very well,'” Roosevelt said. “It forces the other schools to compete now, and I think that’s healthy.”
Roosevelt now works as a contractor in cybersecurity and intelligence for the Department of Homeland Security. He said that helping small businesses grow is another priority, by reducing the corporate tax rate from 6 percent to 4 percent for small businesses and working with Arlington County to make the Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax less burdensome.
Also on Roosevelt’s agenda is improving transportation, which he said should be invested in wisely, and be made as reliable as possible.
“I’m big on cutting down on waste, fraud and abuse,” Roosevelt said. “Our contracting processes are causing us to purchase things that are too much money, like $1 million for a bus stop. We could have bought a few bus stops, we could have had three full-time employees under a small business and we could have had some more labor there.”
Still a U.S. Army Reservist, Roosevelt said he wants to ensure returning service personnel and their families are well taken care of. That would include more education for military spouses, as well as helping ease those who have served into civilian life with job training and opportunities.
“I want to expand the portfolio of education for our spouses that are staying behind, and I want to give them a path to success while their husbands or wives are away,” Roosevelt said. “And when the husband or wife returns homes, I want them to feel like Virginia is home for them and they are received by a community that has programs there to help them back and reintegrate into normal life.”
Lopez has a big fundraising advantage, with nearly than $25,000 on hand at the end of the latest filing period, compared to just over $1,000 for Roosevelt.
Arlington GOP chair Jim Presswood said that while the odds may be long for the only local Republican candidate on the ballot this fall, Roosevelt’s energy and ability to sell his agenda to voters will matter more than money.
“I think if you have a candidate who is energetic, who is out there, who is going to be knocking on a lot of doors and talking to a lot of people, I think money makes less of a difference,” Presswood said.
Roosevelt said if elected, he would be determined to fight for issues that concern his constituents, and even rail against party leadership in Richmond to pursue those goals.
“It has to be a bipartisan focus,” he said. “So what [voters] can expect from me is to champion their voices to the General Assembly, and if need be, I will take on any party for that matter if they stand in the way of the people. This is not about a political party. This is about a community of people who need hope and need help and they need it now.”
Editor’s note: a piece on Lopez’s re-election campaign will follow in the coming weeks.
Chairman Jim Presswood said with statewide elections to come as well as last year’s election of President Donald Trump, the local party should see increased interest.
“We’re certainly feeling very good after the results of last year’s election at the federal level, and we’re looking forward to this year at the state level elections,” Presswood said. “We’re looking forward to our statewide candidates doing quite well in a very strong field, and good competition for each slot, so we’re excited to see what happens in June in the primary.”
So far, only Adam Roosevelt has thrown his hat in the ring, challenging Del. Alfonso Lopez in the 49th District of the House of Delegates. Roosevelt’s campaign is focused on education, growing small business, supporting the military and local law enforcement and enhancing cybersecurity.
For his part, Lopez filed for re-election earlier this month after serving the district for six years. In his announcement, Lopez said he is running “because we deserve an open and welcoming Commonwealth that protects everyone and creates economic opportunity for all.”
Beyond Roosevelt, the local GOP has tried to recruit candidates for the County Board, School Board and other House of Delegates seats, to no avail as yet.
So far, Arlington’s three other House of Delegates members — all Democrats — are unopposed, while there are four Democratic candidates vying for the retiring chairman Jay Fisette’s seat as well as independent Audrey Clement.
School Board member James Lander, meanwhile, faces challenges from Maura McMahon, Monique O’Grady and Mike Webb. The latter unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination last year to challenge Rep. Don Beyer (D).
The local Republicans have not run a County Board candidate since 2012, when Mark Kelly and Matt Wavro both lost to Libby Garvey. Board Member John Vihstadt serves as an independent despite having previously identified as a Republican.
Presswood said he takes the time at every monthly meeting to encourage newcomers to step forward. Mike Lane was the last Republican to sit on the County Board after he won a special election in 1999.
“Typically, people who want to run contact us, and that’s how we’ve been working it,” he said. “We certainly are, as we notice people getting more involved in the committee, saying, ‘Hey, you should run.’ We’ve done that, but as far as this cycle goes we haven’t seen anyone really step forward yet. But hopefully they will soon.”
If candidates do step forward, Presswood said, the local party would likely hold either a so-called “firehouse primary” or a mass meeting to determine nominees.