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by Chris Teale September 6, 2017 at 5:30 pm 0

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.

by Chris Teale August 29, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

In a position he describes as the “greatest honor of my life,” three-term Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) said he finds it most rewarding to help his constituents with issues they may be having.

Lopez said he likes to help his constituents in the 49th District with issues like wanting a new stop sign, or help with filing their taxes. And he and his staff run events such as health insurance enrollment fairs and stream cleanups.

“I do it because I love it,” Lopez said. “I love giving back, I love the opportunity to help people that I’ve never met before. To literally help change people’s lives that I don’t even know but who need help. I’m proud of the fact that with things I’ve accomplished I think I’ve done that. And I want to keep doing that.”

Lopez is the only Arlington member of the House of Delegates facing a challenge this November, against Republican Adam Roosevelt.

But the three-term delegate, whose district includes neighborhoods along Columbia Pike, around Pentagon City and west to Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners in Fairfax County, said he has plenty to be proud of.

Lopez said one of his main priorities is to ensure Virginia is welcoming to immigrants, even amid some heated rhetoric and actions from some in both Washington and the General Assembly.

He said that desire to protect those people is rooted in his family history. Lopez’s father came to the United States in the 1950s from Venezuela and overstayed his tourist visa. He then worked, learned English, became a citizen and graduated from Northern Virginia Community College. His mother was a guidance counselor at Washington-Lee High School and helped more than 1,000 students get to college.

Lopez said them and a shared desire to live the American Dream are a reminder each day of the importance of helping immigrants.

“[E]very time I see a DREAMer kid, I see my father,” Lopez said. “Every time I look in the eyes of some young student trying to make a better life for themselves here, I see my dad.”

(more…)

by Chris Teale August 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

(Updated 3:45 p.m.) Three of Arlington’s four members of the Virginia House of Delegates are without an opponent this fall.

Given the lack of locally competitive races in November, when the House’s entire 100 seats are up for grabs, the lawmakers are looking at opportunities to help fellow Democrats to pick up seats elsewhere.

Democratic Dels. Mark Levine and Rip Sullivan — who are unopposed, as is Del. Patrick Hope — say they have their eyes on the statewide races, and have thrown their support behind Democratic nominees Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring, who are running for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General, respectively. Additionally, in the House, local elected officials see real opportunities to make gains.

Republicans currently hold a 66-34 advantage in the House, but multiple Democrats point to the 17 districts won by Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election as pick-up opportunities.

So instead of having to purely campaign to defend their own seats, they have looked further afield to try and cut into Republicans’ advantage, particularly through fundraising for candidates.

Democrats now have 88 candidates for the House, including incumbents running for re-election. That list includes more women running than men, four LGBT candidates as well as African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

Sullivan, who is the House Democratic Caucus’ campaign chair, launched Project Blue Dominion, a Political Action Committee to help recruit, train and fund candidates across Virginia.

He has sent out regular emails entitled “Flip-a-District Fridays” profiling the new candidates, and the PAC reported to the Virginia Department of Elections that it received $4,296 in contributions through the end of the last filing period on June 30.

“We are very excited about our current position,” Sullivan said. “We have a remarkably diverse group of candidates, some very accomplished candidates. It is the largest group of candidates we’ve had in a long, long time… We are running in parts of the state we haven’t run in in a long time.”

(more…)

by Chris Teale July 25, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

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.”

(more…)

by Chris Teale April 10, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

The Virginia House of Delegates last week voted down Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) plan to gut a towing bill that targets Northern Virginia. The bill now goes back to McAuliffe.

McAuliffe’s amendment to HB 1960 would have removed language preventing jurisdictions in Northern Virginia from requiring a “second signature” to authorize a tow from a commercial property. The second signature comes at the moment of the tow; the first signature is the contract that authorizes a company to tow from a particular property.

The bill would affect all of Northern Virginia, known as Planning District 8. It overrides regulations passed by the Arlington County Board last December to amend the county’s towing ordinance.

Included in the County Board’s package was a controversial provision requiring businesses to authorize individual tows. That provision brought objections from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and others in the business community.

McAuliffe had tried to lessen the impact of the General Assembly’s towing bill by adding suggested language requiring the second signature. But Fairfax and Prince William counties Del. Timothy Hugo (R-40) said at the House’s reconvened session April 5 that requiring a second signature is not practical.

Hugo, the bill’s chief patron, said needing a second signature would prevent the likes of churches, restaurants and apartment complexes from quickly removing illegally parked cars.

“What this amendment would allow, is it would require every time the tower wants to tow that illegally parked car, they’ve got to find the preacher, the restaurant manager, the president of the homeowners’ association, they’ve got to find a second signature for that tow,” Hugo said during the debate.

Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48), a member of Arlington’s House delegation, said it was unfair that Northern Virginia be singled out in the bill while the likes of Stafford County and Virginia Beach can require a second signature.

“The question here is why should we single out one locality or one portion of the state to be treated differently from every other portion of the state,” Sullivan said. “There’s no justification that I’ve heard for doing so.”

Debate brought some testy exchanges on the House floor during the one-day session where lawmakers debated McAuliffe’s vetoes and proposed amendments to other passed legislation. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) echoed Sullivan’s sentiment, asking why the bill only applies to Northern Virginia if it “is such a good idea,” and why it thus could not apply statewide.

“If the gentleman wants to put that bill in next year, he’s more than welcome to do so,” Hugo said in response.

Then Del. Mark Levine (D-45) questioned why Virginia Beach is able to keep prohibiting predatory towing but Arlington County cannot, and he said that McAuliffe’s amendment would make one towing standard apply across the commonwealth.

Hugo said the amendment would only affect Northern Virginia, then House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28) ended debate.

“How petty that Republicans would try to pass a law overruling a predatory towing local ordinance in Democratic Northern Virginia while allowing the exact same predatory-towing ordinance in Republican Virginia Beach,” Levine wrote in an email to supporters.

The House rejected McAuliffe’s amendment by a 67-33 vote. The governor now must either sign or veto the bill.

by Chris Teale March 21, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Arlington GOP logo(Updated 4:35 p.m.) Even with just one candidate declared for this year’s local elections, the Arlington GOP still believes it can make a splash.

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.”

Adam Roosevelt headshotSo 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.

by Katie Pyzyk December 28, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

State General Assembly (via Virginia General Assembly)Arlington County’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly will hold its annual public hearing to discuss with residents the legislative priorities for the new General Assembly session that begins on January 11.

The public hearing will be held on Thursday, January 5, in the Arlington County Board Room (2100 Clarendon Blvd., #300) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Citizens can sign up on the night of the hearing to address the legislators. Each speaker will have up to three minutes.

“The direct participation of an active citizenry helps me represent the 30th District more effectively,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin. “I encourage and welcome all residents… to attend our delegation’s hearings.”

Some of the legislation on the 2017 roster that has been proposed by Arlington representatives includes:

  • Paid family leave, proposed by Sen. Barbara Favola: Under this legislation, the Commissioner of Labor and Industry would develop an implementation plan for a paid family leave program.
  • Reporting lost or stolen firearms, proposed by Sen. Barbara Favola: This bill would require a person who legally possesses a firearm to report its loss or theft to police within 24 hours of discovering that it’s missing.
  • Same-sex marriage, proposed by Sen. Adam Ebbin: This legislation would repeal the parts of Virginia’s constitution banning same-sex marriages and civil unions.
  • Governor’s term of office, proposed by Sen. Adam Ebbin: This legislation would allow Virginia’s governor to serve consecutive terms. Currently, governors cannot run again immediately after serving one four-year term, but they can run again in a future election.
  • Firearm locks, proposed by Sen. Janet Howell: The bill would make it illegal to sell or transfer a handgun to anyone without the person being provided with a locking device for the handgun.
  • No-excuse absentee voting, proposed by Sen. Janet Howell: This would make it acceptable for any registered voter to vote absentee in person without having to provide a reason.
  • Required immunizations, proposed by Del. Patrick Hope: The bill would require children to receive an immunization for meningococcal disease (which causes bacterial meningitis) in order to attend school.

by Jennifer Currier December 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm 0

Del. Patrick Hope(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Del. Patrick Hope (D) has introduced a bill to the Virginia General Assembly that would eliminate the 35 percent commission the state charges on all phone calls made by prison inmates.

The proposed bill — which is now in committee for consideration and must pass there before going before the full House of Delegates — would amend an existing bill by adding a sentence stating no state agency will receive such commission payments.

The commission comes from charges paid by inmates and recipients of calls made from prison. It generates approximately $2.6 million a year, Hope said. Those funds go directly into the Virginia’s general fund.

“I’ve introduced a similar bill for the last four or five years, each time only to see it pass committee and die in appropriations due to lack of funding,” he said in an email. “So we agree on the policy but just not how to pay for it.”

Hope justified his support of this bill by explaining that inmates staying in touch with their families while incarcerated improves the situation for all parties involved.

“The added cost from this commission makes it very difficult for those incarcerated to stay connected with family,” he said. “Studies show the importance of maintaining frequent communication between the incarcerated and their family members, particularly related to recidivism rates, their own conduct in prison, and the overall well-being of families, especially those with young children.”

He has also testified in front of the Federal Communications Commission on this issue in the past. The agency recently acted to lower call costs and indicated support for eliminating commissions on those calls.

Phone service in state prisons in Virginia is provided by GTL, a Reston-based company that bills itself as the “corrections innovation leader.” According to the website prisonphonejustice.org, the rate for a 15 minute call from an inmate was as high as $6 in 2014. The website refers to the commission paid by GTL to the Commonwealth as a “kickback.”

For Hope, the issue is a humanitarian one.

“It is my continued belief that the correct policy in Virginia should be to make the costs of telephone communication between inmates and family as inexpensive as possible,” he said. “We want to encourage greater communication, and Virginia should not view this part of our prison system as a cost center to fund other parts of the budget.”

Virginia’s 2016 General Assembly legislative session is scheduled last for 60 days, beginning on Jan. 13 and ending on March 12.

File photo

by Morgan Fecto July 10, 2014 at 10:00 am 0

48th District candidates Rip Sullivan (left) and David Foster (right)(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Nominees for the 48th district House of Delegates seat, Republican Dave Foster and Democrat Rip Sullivan, plan to debate at George Mason University’s Arlington campus Aug. 11 prior to the special election Aug. 19.

“I am pleased that even in the short time afforded by this special election, we will be able to discuss the issues,”  Foster said in a press release yesterday.

Foster is the former President of the Virginia Board of Education and an Arlington resident. He works as a partner in the Fulbright & Jaworski law firm in D.C.

Sullivan, a former Fairfax Transportation Advisory Commission member and Fairfax County resident and partner at Reed Smith law firm, called for a debate soon after he defeated six other candidates in the Democratic caucus on Sunday. 

“I’m an issues-oriented guy, which is why I’ve served on boards and commissions dealing with housing, education, transportation, and legal policy over the last 25 years,” Sullivan said in a press release. “I look forward to a substantive debate where we can talk about the issues we’ll face in Richmond.”

Sullivan opposes widening I-66 inside the beltway and will try to “incentivize use of public transportation and expand mass-transit opportunities” if elected, according to his website. He supports Medicaid expansion in Virginia, increased gun control and reproductive health rights for women.

Foster is opposed to the Columbia Pike streetcar, and if elected, would spearhead a public referendum to end the project that he called “impractical and unaffordable.” Foster also “pledged to work for a solution to the Medicaid expansion controversy that has roiled Richmond this year,” according to his website. As a former Arlington School Board member, he said he supports “adequate funding and local decision making” for Arlington schools. Sullivan said on his website that he wants to “tackle the issues of overcrowding and larger class sizes currently facing Arlington.”

After the sudden resignation of Del. Bob Brink (D-48), who retired last month to serve as Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services, Sullivan received more votes than six other Democratic nominees in the “firehouse” primary. Foster was the only Republican to run for the open seat.

In addition to the Arlington debate, another debate between Foster and Sullivan is scheduled to take place at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce on the morning of Aug. 5.

by Ethan Rothstein July 7, 2014 at 10:20 am 1,185 0

Rip Sullivan (photo via Facebook)Richard “Rip” Sullivan was selected as the Democratic nominee to replace Del. Bob Brink (D-48) during an instant runoff primary election on Sunday.

Seven candidates were on the ballot for the hastily-scheduled “firehouse” primary. Sullivan was listed as voters’ first choice for the 48th District seat on 905 of the 2,126 ballots cast on Sunday at two locations: Yorktown and McLean High Schools. Voters were asked to rank their preference of candidate and, during the instant runoff process, the candidates with the lowest number of votes were eliminated one-by-one — and their votes reassigned — until one candidate received a majority of votes.

In the fifth round of ballot counts, Sullivan secured the nomination with 1,111 votes, ahead of Paul Holland’s 523 and Andrew Schneider’s 444 votes. In the first ballots cast, David Boling received 209 votes, Atima Omara-Alwala received 159, Yasmine Taeb received 77 and Jackie Wilson received 58.

Brink officially retired from the House of Delegates on June 30 to become Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services. Brink had served as delegate for 17 years, and most recently was re-elected last fall after running unopposed. House of Delegates Speaker William Howell announced the special election would be held Aug. 19, making the election filing deadline today at 5:00 p.m.

“Speaker Howell threw all he had at us, but Arlington and Fairfax Democrats demonstrated their firm commitment to the democratic process, which is why turnout far exceeded expectations,” Sullivan said in a press release. “Republicans in the House of Delegates continue to refuse to expand health care to hundreds of thousands of Virginias, refuse to accept the reality behind climate science, and continue impose limits on women’s reproductive health. These are not my values, and these are not the values of the 48th district.”

Dave Foster (photo via Foster for Delegate)Sullivan, a Fairfax County resident, will be joined on the ballot by former Arlington School Board Chairman Dave Foster, who was announced as the 48th District Republicans’ nominee hours before the Democratic caucus’ votes were counted. Before Sunday afternoon, no Republican had publicly expressed interest in running for the open seat in the Democrat-heavy district.

Foster, an Arlington native who has also served as the President of the Virginia Board of Education, said if elected he plans to introduce legislation to bring a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar to the General Assembly, calling the streetcar “impractical and unaffordable.”

“Roads and Metro, schools, and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than a half-billion dollar trolley,” Foster said in a press release. He added he would fight for more local control over school decisions. “I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.”

Sullivan and Foster are both attorneys: Sullivan is a partner at Reed Smith and Foster is a partner at the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski.

Photo (top) via Facebook. Photo (bottom) via Foster for Delegate

by Ethan Rothstein October 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

House of Delegates 49th District candidate Alfonso LopezThis week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).

Here is the unedited response from 49th District candidate Alfonso Lopez:

I currently have the privilege of serving our community in the Virginia House of Delegates. I represent the 49th District, which runs along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City to Bailey’s Crossroads and up Route 7 to Seven Corners.

Two years ago, I asked for your vote so that I could fight for our values in Richmond, protect the social safety-net upon which my parents and so many others have relied, and address many of the biggest issues facing our community: transportation, affordable housing, education and job creation.

As your Delegate, I have worked to restore funding in Virginia’s budget for Free Health Clinics, such as the Arlington Free Clinic, that provide critical health care for our uninsured neighbors. I was also able to restore funding for our network of Child Advocacy Centers, which bring together health care professionals, social workers, and investigators to address the needs of child abuse victims in Virginia.

Building on the work of former Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, I successfully sponsored legislation creating the Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund and was named the Virginia Housing Coalition’s 2013 Legislative Leader. As a revolving loan fund, the Trust Fund will help create affordable housing and address homelessness throughout the Commonwealth. While we secured $8 million in funding through the budget process, the Trust Fund will need a permanent, dedicated source of revenue in order to effectively meet the needs of Virginians. Over the next two years, finding a steady source of revenue will be one of my top priorities. (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein October 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm 1,294 0

Laura DelhommeThis week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).

Here is the unedited response from 47th District candidate Laura Delhomme (I):

My name is Laura Delhomme and I hope you will vote for me to be your Delegate for the 47th District.  Like other Libertarian candidates, I believe in civil liberties, free markets, and peace. I’ve spent my campaign promoting civil liberties and free market alternatives to the ever-increasing government spending and intrusion in our lives. While there are many things that I would like to work on as your delegate, the following three will be my primary focus.

It’s time for marriage equality in Virginia. In 2006, Virginians voted to pass the Marshall-Newman Amendment by 57%. This amendment to the Virginia Constitution not only says that a marriage between a man and a woman is the only valid marriage; it even outlaws things that “approximate the design” of marriage (so civil unions are out, and gays entering into contracts with each other is severely limited).  As I’m talking to people about this during my campaign, they’re shocked (appalled!) that this amendment was not only successfully passed, but voted on overwhelmingly by Virginians.  It’s been a short 7 years since then, but the tides have shifted in Virginia. Here in Northern Virginia, people are obviously supportive of everyone having the right to marry. Even as I talk to people in southern Virginia (as part of my support for Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis), people usually respond with “yeah, I’m confused why government’s even involved in defining marriage.” I am too!  In my ideal world, our government would not be limiting who we can enter into relationships or contracts with, and it definitely shouldn’t be defining marriage. But as long as the institution of marriage is so intertwined with our tax code (and frankly all other walks of life), we should treat people equally. Our government should not be the biggest discriminator of all.

I also want to end the state income tax. Ending the individual income tax would bring approximately $3,400 back to each household in Virginia.  People often ask, well what would we replace that tax with? I say nothing. There are tons of useless projects being funded, cronies playing favorites with subsidies, and oodles of inefficiencies in our government – cutting $10.2 billion from our budget would finally force a conversation about what we’re actually wasting money on.  From 2000 to 2012, state spending DOUBLED while our population only increased 15%. Let’s re-prioritize our spending, and put more money in everyone’s pockets.

And everyone’s favorite topic – legalizing marijuana.  I rarely run into anyone that disagrees with me on this: prohibition is a failure. We saw it in the 20’s with alcohol, and we’re seeing it now with marijuana. By prohibiting certain drugs, our government has taken a modest problem and turned it into a big one. Instead of it just being a bad personal decision, now there’s a black market for drugs where you never know what your product is going to be laced with. Making marijuana illegal does not keep people from using it; prohibition only drives it underground making it even more unsafe, ruins live with prosecutions, and wastes our tax dollars. Let’s legalize marijuana, then have an open conversation with our children about the true dangers of drug use.

The Libertarian philosophy is simple: Libertarians support liberty. We believe in your right to choose, and to live your life as you want, as long as you do not harm others. Sometimes Republicans sound libertarian when they talk about cutting taxes and spending. Sometimes Democrats sound libertarian when they talk about civil liberties like free speech. Libertarians support freedom on every issue, and for everyone. Feel free to email me for more information about my campaign or the Libertarian Party.

I hope you will help me change Virginia for the better. I hope you will vote for me, Laura Delhomme, for Delegate. Vote for me. Vote for liberty.

Photo via Laura Delhomme

by Ethan Rothstein October 25, 2013 at 11:30 am 0

Del. Patrick Hope (D-47)

This week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).

Here is the unedited response from 47th District candidate Patrick Hope (D):

Over the past two years, Virginia has begun to shed its proud reputation as one of the best states to start a business and raise a family.  Instead, we have become a state less welcoming to gays and lesbians, minorities, and women and more interested in legislating divisive social issues rather than improving our economy and creating jobs.  The partisanship seen across the Potomac River has already filtered its ugly ways into the Virginia General Assembly.  I believe we need to reverse course.

Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, Mark Herring and the entire Democratic ticket represent change that will refocus Virginia’s attention toward investing more in our public schools and universities, ensuring an adequate transportation infrastructure, guaranteeing our most vulnerable residents have access to affordable health care and services, and protecting our environment and natural resources.  By making these smart investments, while keeping taxes and regulation low, Virginia will once again be a welcoming place for businesses and families.

My personal focus will be ensuring Virginia fully implements the Affordable Care Act and continues to reform its Medicaid program to guarantee quality health care at lower costs.  My attention will also be on seeking reforms to our prison system to make it more cost efficient and to make sure offenders who need treatment receive it, helping to avoid incarceration in the first place.  And finally, I will continue to be the voice for those most in need – those with physical and mental disabilities, our children, and older adults.

This vision for the Commonwealth is one that reflects our Arlington values and it is one that motivates me daily to continue my public service for you.  I sincerely hope to earn your vote on Tuesday, November 5th.  For more information, please visit my website at www.HopeforVirginia.org.

by Ethan Rothstein October 25, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

Jeffrey Engle

This week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).

Here is the unedited response from 45th District candidate Jeffrey Engle (I):

There are a lot of important issues facing the citizens of the Commonwealth these days. Those of us in Northern Virginia know more than most about the complex problems we are all going to have to face because of the federal government’s inability to negotiate practical solutions. Since the feds fall short of fulfilling their duties in DC, it is that much more important that the government in Richmond steps up and starts focusing on the important work of protecting our citizens. We need a new vision, clear goals, and accountability at all levels. We need true leadership, not partisan leadership.

I have never been a politician, but I have been serving this great country as a problem solver for my entire adult life. I am not done serving, and if the voters of the 45th House of Delegates District vote for me on November 5th I will work with all members of the General Assembly to come up with practical solutions to the serious issues we face. Issues like an education system that is failing our children, a transportation system that costs a lot of tax dollars and a lot of Northern Virginian’s time, and a tax and regulatory climate that is keeping Virginia from being as business friendly as it should be. These issues are not Republican or Democrat issues and they will not be solved by Republicans or Democrats alone.

Ultimately, this election will come down to a fairly straightforward choice, but it’s not the typical choice that voters face in other races, or even at the top of the ticket. This choice is between two men with very different views on the role government should play in your life. I have seen the failure of legislators working at the behest of special interests, and am dedicated to bringing greater transparency and accountability to Richmond. No one, especially not elected officials being influenced by lobbyists, should dictate the relationship between a doctor and their patients. No one, especially not elected officials influenced by special interest groups, should target taxes and regulations on hard working business owners. And no one, especially not those entrusted to represent the interests of the voters of the 45th HOD District, should go down to Richmond and advocate for less parental control of education, lower standards for poor and minority students, and less protection for the rights of law abiding Virginians.

If I am elected, I will make school safety initiatives my top priority. I will work with hard working legislators, educators, and parents to improve our education system and truly focus on preparing the next generation to enter adult life. And I will work tirelessly to protect the rights of all Virginians to live their lives, and enjoy their freedom as they see fit. So I ask that all voters take the time from their busy schedules on November 5th and vote for Jeffrey J. Engle for the House of Delegates.

Photo via Engle for Delegate

by Ethan Rothstein October 25, 2013 at 10:30 am 0

Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45)This week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).

Here is the unedited response from 45th District candidate Rob Krupicka (D):

It has been an honor to represent the 45th district over the last year.  I want to thank everybody that has helped me get up to speed after my special election last fall.   I am proud as well of the bipartisan success I’ve already had in Richmond.  In just a short time in the legislature, I’ve been able to secure funding for new mental health services as well as reduce regulations on local restaurants and non-profits.   I have been in the middle of every Virginia education policy debate, leading on the need for high stakes testing reform, new early childhood services and improved access to higher education.  In education, I will always make the success of our students my first priority.

In addition to a number of education measures, my legislative goals include tightening state ethics laws (check out www.VAEthicsReformNow.com), expanding clean energy, improve health care for seniors, and bolstering our local power reliability with more power line undergrounding (you can read about this effort on my blog at www.krupicka.com).

I will always work to support small businesses, veterans, and all hardworking Virginians to find employment in a changing economy. I believe Virginia’s competitiveness requires us to do all we can to attract the high tech, health and professional jobs that are projected to grow over the next decade.

I support reforming & expanding access to health care to cover 400,000 more Virginians, to create 30,000 new jobs, and to make healthcare effective and efficient.

I will always stand up for the right of women to make their own health choices.

I will fight to reduce gridlock and to support the continued expansion of our public transit system in an effort to protect our environment.

As a former local official as well as a past member of the State Board of Education, I understand the challenges involved in implementing the work of the legislature.   I am committed to making sure we have a strong partnership between Richmond and our local communities.  I remain firm in my belief that the best innovation most often happens at the local level.

This year is critical for Virginia’s future and our national reputation for thoughtful government. We have never had statewide elections that present such starkly different visions for our Commonwealth.  After seeing the dangers of ideological extremism play out in the Federal Government shutdown, the need for commonsense and an honest willingness to find common ground has never been more important.   I will work to bring a progressive, results-oriented approach to the legislature, always looking for ways to build alliances.

With 20 years of experience in our community, it is a privilege to ask for your vote on November 5th.  My wife and two daughters all love this community.  We are committed to our public schools, our diversity, our belief in equality and to enhancing our quality of life.  I’d love to hear from you.  Please visit my web site at www.krupicka.com to learn more and follow me on twitter @RobKrupicka.

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