Election Guide: House of Delegates

Loudoun Now asked the candidates for House of Delegates seats to share their views on three topic areas: transportation, Civil War memorials and redistricting.

10th House District

Wendy W. Gooditis, Democrat
Occupation: Realtor

Campaign website: wendygooditis.com

Randall Minchew, Republican*
Occupation: Attorney
Campaign website: delegaterandyminchew.com

Loudoun Now: Virginia’s controversial 2013 transportation funding bill has pumped tens of millions of dollars into Loudoun road construction projects. Do you support that approach? What are your solutions to the challenges of high Greenway tolls and Metro’s shaky financial standing?

Gooditis: When Chris and I first moved to Virginia, I commuted from Upperville to DC every day. If the current Greenway tolls had existed then, I would not have been able to afford that drive. The traffic in Loudoun affects countless people in our communities. I will stand behind the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority in Richmond, so that more of our tax dollars return to transportation improvements here at home. The 2013 transportation funding bill was an important piece of legislation, necessary for Loudoun to improve congestion across the area. In Richmond, I will support budgetary decisions that give our region its fair share of funding, so we can work across the aisle to improve gridlock in Loudoun. Accordingly, I will work to ensure that the federal government creates an independent and sufficient funding source for the Metro, which is responsible for much of its workforce.

Minchew

Minchew: I was a co-patron on HB 2313 and supported its passage. Then I was appointed to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority that is charged with approving projects funded by that 2013 transportation bill. The NVTA has funded $980 million in congestion-relieving transportation projects in Northern Virginia, including many projects that have been in VDOT’s six-year plans for years but never given funding. On a per-capita basis, Loudoun County and the Town of Leesburg has received more of these NVTA regional dollars than any other jurisdiction in Northern Virginia. Given that we went for 27 years without adequate funding of our regional roads, we had a backlog in critical projects. During that period, almost all of Loudoun’s major road improvements were financed through the proffer system or through county bonds. HB 2313 changed that. The General Assembly also adopted a new comprehensive rating program for suggested road improvements. I am proud of the work we have done.

As for the Greenway, I have been seeking legislative cures to those high tolls for years and have sought a number of legislation solutions. My 2017 bill experience together with the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling in the Loudoun board’s unsuccessful recent appeal suggests to me that a legislative reform to the Greenway’s 2008 rate legislation would probably not succeed. But, the good news is that this 2008 legislation that functionally allows the Greenway every toll increase it seeks will expire Jan. 1, 2020, and then the Greenway’s tolls can be subject to an honest review process by the State Corporation Commission.

Lastly, on Metro, I also serve on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission that oversees the Metro system. While a strong argument can be made that Loudoun should never have joined the WMATA Compact in 2012, the board’s decision is final and irretrievable. My top priority is to fix the systemic problems WMATA and Metro have before Loudoun starts paying its WMATA membership dues in 2019 and the Silver Line arrives in 2020. I would like to see some major reforms to WMATA’s Charter to address these problems and have been working with Congresswoman Comstock on curative federal legislation that we should see soon.

LN: State law prohibits counties and towns from removing or altering war memorials. Would you support legislation giving that authority to local elected representatives?

Gooditis: Yes, I support giving localities the authority to determine the removal and placement of their war memorials.

Minchew: I represent three counties (Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick) and three towns (Leesburg, Middleburg, and Boyce) and all of them have decided not to seek 2018 authority to remove or alter war memorials. As such, I will respect the wishes of these six jurisdictions. As an historian, I acknowledge that the study of our history can be very painful at times in that it shows inhumanity, deprivation of civil rights and liberties, and other atrocious acts. But we must honestly appreciate these history warts and all so that we may learn from it and address the very real issues and injustices that we still face as an American society.

LN: Redistricting won’t occur until 2021, but the next General Assembly session could set new rules for how that process is conducted. In light of concerns about gerrymandering and relying on elected representatives to redraw their election districts, should Virginia change the process for drawing new electoral maps? If so, what is the best approach? If not, why not?

Gooditis

Gooditis: Redistricting reform is one of the first issues that got me into this race. Free and fair elections are critical to our democracy, and I believe that non-partisan redistricting in Virginia is absolutely necessary to ensure them. After the 2020 census, I believe that Virginia needs an independent commission to ensure non-partisan redistricting, so that lines are not drawn to favor any politician or party.

Minchew: I support redistricting reform and filed my own bill for redistricting reform, HB 553 in 2016, that would codify criterial for honest redistricting, protection of communities of interest, and avoidance of gerrymandering. I still think that approach is viable. There are many approaches suggested by other legislators including establishment of an independent redistricting commission, an amendment to our Virginia Constitution prohibiting gerrymandering, and formulaic approaches in designing districts. All approaches have some attributes to them and deserve consideration during the 2018 session or, better yet, at a special session held later in the year, where they can be considered. Also, we are anticipating that the United States Supreme Court will hand down a major decision on redistricting early next year in the case of Whitford v. Gill. In light of that forthcoming major decision, a special 2018 session solely focused on redistricting reform held after the Whitford v. Gill decision comes down makes the most sense to this delegate.


32nd House District

Thomas A. “Tag” Greason, Republican*
Occupation: Executive vice president at QTS Inc.
Campaign website: taggreason.com

David A. Reid, Democrat
Occupation: Program manager at Axiologic Solutions; owner of Rockbridge Consulting
Campaign website: reidfordelegate.com

Loudoun Now: Virginia’s controversial 2013 transportation funding bill has pumped tens of millions of dollars into Loudoun road construction projects. Do you support that approach? What changes do you advocate? What are your solutions to the challenges of high Greenway tolls and Metro’s shaky financial standing?

Greason

Greason: As one of the co-sponsors on HB 2313, the first Transportation Funding and Reform bill in over 27 years, I knew we could not solve our transportation issues without a new funding source. Today, we see the fruits of that labor with projects like the widening of Belmont Ridge; the Rt. 7 overpasses at Belmont Ridge and Ashburn Village; the extensions at Pacific Boulevard and Gloucester Parkway; and the completion of Loudoun County parkway from Rt. 7 to Rt. 50.  These projects will provide essential options for our commuters and serve as effective alternatives to the Greenway Toll Road. I also plan to address the Greenway problem in two ways: purchase the road and re-finance the debt, resulting in a lower toll; and implement distance pricing to reduce the “per trip” cost for local commuters. Both of these options will reduce the cost of the Greenway and provide relief to our community.

Reid: The 2013 bipartisan transportation bill has been successful in funding projects in Loudoun County and Northern Virginia and I support General Assembly efforts to work across the aisle to bring positive results to commuters here in Loudoun County. I believe the best way to address the high costs of the tolls on the Greenway is to revisit HB 1881, which would empower the State Corporation Commission to require the Dulles Greenway owners to implement distance-based pricing so that you only pay for the distance you actually travel. To address part of the funding issues for Metro we should explore the efficacy of special assessment districts near Metro stations so the developers who will benefit the most from Metro’s expansion will help fund transportation improvements. Additionally, we need to conduct a study on Metro fares to increase ridership and generate additional revenue. The current fares are one of the most expensive in the nation and it discourages ridership.

LN: State law prohibits counties and towns from removing or altering war memorials. Would you support legislation giving that authority to local elected representatives?

Greason: It is important to preserve our history—both the good and the bad. As a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I studied military history and the impact historical events have on our society. Someone once said, “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The commonwealth currently preserves memorials in order to preserve the lessons of our past. Asymmetric removal of memorials could set a contentious precedent and diminish our ability to take meaningful lessons from our history. That said, we should consider ensuring appropriate context is provided and offer an opportunity for additional memorials to be erected.

Reid

Reid: I would support legislation that would provide local governing bodies the authority to take public comments, conduct debate, and make a local decision pertaining to war memorials in their jurisdictions.

LN: Redistricting won’t occur until 2021, but the next General Assembly session could set new rules for how that process is conducted. In light of concerns about gerrymandering and relying on elected representatives to redraw their election districts, should Virginia change the process for drawing new electoral maps? If so, what is the best approach? If not, why not?

Greason: This is an issue with no simple answer. Often, proponents of redistricting reform advocate the establishment of a “non-partisan” commission. While, this sounds like an attractive solution, it could potentially be less equitable than the current system. The members of a “non-partisan re-districting commission,” like all other commissions in Virginia, would be appointed by a governor. Though governor’s serve the entire commonwealth, many tend to exhibit partisan favoritism. The combination of an appointed, partisan commission would remove the much needed accountability that voters seek when advocating for boundary changes. Unlike elected officials, commission members would be removed from the accountability of the voting booth and thus solely accountable to the individual that presides over their appointment. While the current system may not be perfect, it has been upheld by the federal government, the justice department, and countless courts over years of challenges. And interestingly enough, the aggrieved party in most of re-districting complaints are those who are not in power at the time…regardless of political affiliation. The “right system” is one in which accountability is kept most directly with the citizens. I am not opposed to alternatives; however, today’s system creates more accountability to the voter than any other alternatives that have been proposed.

Reid: Virginia should adopt a process where a non-partisan, independent commission is empowered to conduct redistricting. That approach will return the power of the electoral process to the people. The current system allows the legislature to select their voters instead of the voters selecting their representative.


33rd House District

Del. Dave A. LaRock, Republican*
Occupation: General contractor
Campaign website: votelarock.us


Tia L. Walbridge, Democrat
Occupation: Farmer
Campaign website: tiawalbridgefordelegate.com

Loudoun Now: Virginia’s controversial 2013 transportation funding bill has pumped tens of millions of dollars into Loudoun road construction projects. Do you support that approach? What changes do you advocate? What are your solutions to the challenges of high Greenway tolls and Metro’s shaky financial standing?

LaRock: I support improving roads, education and other core government services without raising taxes. Raising taxes is the easy way out of a problem, but higher taxes hurt families and businesses. As the late Ronald Reagan put it, “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we have not taxed enough, but we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.” I favor taking steps to refine management practices and prioritize funding to the most important needs; as we cut excessive taxes and unnecessary regulations to create a business-friendly commonwealth, economic activity will grow, and revenues will increase without raising taxes.

The passage of the 2013 transportation bill is behind us, and it won’t be repealed. It is now my responsibility to make sure that those funds are protected and projects are prioritized so that critical needs are dealt with in a timely manner. I have led on this through SmartScale legislation, my Transportation Lockbox Constitutional Amendment, and removing the transit-favoring loophole in NVTA project analysis. Unsafe and congested roads like Rt. 15 north of Leesburg, Rt. 9 through Hillsboro, the Rt. 287-Rt. 9 intersection, and Rt. 7 eastbound have waited too long, while deaths, injuries, damage and delays continue to plague them. These problem areas are falling behind partly because the decision to expand Metro in the east has brought with it intense focus on building new taxpayer-funded roads for development around Metro stations, instead of fixing existing needs in the western part of Loudoun County.

The Metro system has a general manager who is doing a great turn-around job. He understands there needs to be a top down absolute commitment to safety and excellent service. If you falsify a safety report, you should be out the door; now with the union influence, if that were to occur, there would be a lengthy union grievance process which would stall or prevent termination. The Metro Compact is outdated and has led to a multi-billion-dollar unfunded pension liability. That liability cannot be met and the Metro Compact must be revised to fix this. Virginia made important changes to the WMATA Compact in our code to address these issues, but Maryland and DC have refused to do so.

As safety and reliability improve, Metro fares can be increased. Rather than enacting a highly regressive Regional Sales Tax, of which Virginia and Loudoun would pay a grossly disproportionate share, a station-area property or ad valorem tax should be instituted. This would capture some of the vast profits from developers and commercial property owners, and would be passed through to commercial renters, including the federal government, whom benefit from rail.

Then-Senator Mark Herring, acting against the interest of his own constituents, pushed through a 2008 law to make Greenway toll increases mandatory, and it should be determined if he took that action because of family ties to the Greenway. Herring’s bill should be reversed, as Del. Minchew and I attempted last year. I trust John Adams, if elected, to do what Herring never would—that is to take a close look at Greenway accounting practices to see if there is potential for relief.

Walbridge

Walbridge: Our traffic and infrastructure affect the daily lives of so many in our community. Like so many others, my husband commutes every day to Chantilly, and every evening. We face the same decision as so many other families in Northern Virginia: pay the Greenway tolls, which add up to an extra car payment each month, or miss dinner with the family. In Richmond, I will support the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, so we can see more of our tax dollars come back to Northern Virginia to improve our roads and infrastructure. This legislation passed with bipartisan support because of the extreme congestion on roads like Route 15, Route 9 and Route 7. However, despite the need for traffic solutions across Loudoun County, Dave LaRock campaigned against this crucial bill. As a delegate, I will work across the aisle to lessen the burden of traffic on our community.

We must also ensure that Metro is working to ease traffic in our area, and hold the federal government accountable for its fair share of funding, given that a large portion of Metro traffic is within DC transporting the federal workforce.

LN: State law prohibits counties and towns from removing or altering war memorials. Would you support legislation giving that authority to local elected representatives?

LaRock: I will oppose changing the current law which prohibits tampering with memorials. We need to study and learn from history, not hide it. I am very open to seeing memorials added to assure history is presented in a balanced way. Many people, my opponent included, seem intent on removing historic monuments. I disagree.

Walbridge: I would support giving localities the authority to decide what happens with their war memorials. I believe Confederate statues should be placed in museums where they can be displayed with appropriate historical context.

LN: Redistricting won’t occur until 2021, but the next General Assembly session could set new rules for how that process is conducted. In light of concerns about gerrymandering and relying on elected representatives to redraw their election districts, should Virginia change the process for drawing new electoral maps? If so, what is the best approach? If not, why not?

LaRock: I have no reason to question current practices used to form districts. It is a collaborative process with the option of appeal to courts if there is disagreement.

Walbridge: I support fair and non-partisan redistricting by an independent commission, instead of by partisan politicians. Politicians in Virginia have been allowed to break up communities and neighborhoods—Leesburg is divided between three state house districts—to reduce competition and choose their own electorate. As a delegate, I will support an independent commission taking responsibility for redrawing district lines after the 2020 census.


67th House District

Karrie K. Delaney, Democrat
Occupation: Communication consultant
Campaign website: karriedelaney.com

James M. “Jim” LeMunyon, Republican*
Occupation:  Business developer for a consortium of technology companies
Campaign website: lemunyon.com


Loudoun Now
: Virginia’s controversial 2013 transportation funding bill has pumped tens of millions of dollars into Loudoun road construction projects. Do you support that approach? What are your solutions to the challenges of high Greenway tolls and Metro’s shaky financial standing?

Delaney

Delaney: I’m dedicated to finding regional long-range, comprehensive solutions that will ease traffic congestion and ensure Northern Virginia remains an economic hub, like the 2013 transportation funding bill. I also believe we need to prevent private companies from arbitrarily increasing tolls for profit on the Greenway, and instead set a distance-based tolling plan while we work toward eliminating tolls altogether. Finally, we must implement a dedicated funding source for Metro and ensure we commit as a region to improvements to make Metro efficient and reliable.

LeMunyon: As a result of the 2013 transportation bill, more than 70 projects are underway in Northern Virginia, with many more in the planning stages. Work has already been completed on the first segment of Rt. 28 widening with these funds, with more work on Rt. 28 coming. With respect to Greenway tolls, refinancing the Greenway’s debt at a lower interest rate would allow toll prices to be reduced. Since the Greenway is privately financed, the state can encourage but not require this. The General Assembly and more recently the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission have requested that WMATA provide a business plan demonstrating that it can operate as efficiently as comparable transit systems in the United States. On a per passenger/per mile basis, WMATA’s costs are almost twice that of the Chicago Transit Authority, for example.

LN: State law prohibits counties and towns from removing or altering war memorials. Would you support legislation giving that authority to local elected representatives?

Delaney: I support giving localities the choice to decide what to do with all monuments. However, I feel it is important to not lose sight of the tragedy and disturbing violence and hatred that distended upon Charlottesville. I also find it disgusting and appalling that in a time of great crisis, President Trump displayed a complete lack of moral leadership in his refusal to condemn white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and the domestic terrorism they brought upon our commonwealth that left three dead. Now more than ever we need leaders at all levels of government to rise up against violence and hate, defend our democracy, and ensure our commonwealth remains welcoming and inclusive for all.

LeMunyon

LeMunyon: Yes, but memorials and statues placed to recognize a particular event in history at a particular location should not be removed.

LN: Redistricting won’t occur until 2021, but the next General Assembly session could set new rules for how that process is conducted. In light of concerns about gerrymandering and relying on elected representatives to redraw their election districts, should Virginia change the process for drawing new electoral maps? If so, what is the best approach? If not, why not?

Delaney: The blatant gerrymandering of our commonwealth that interferes with the voice of the people is appalling, which is why I support implementing an independent redistricting commission to take the politics out of drawing district lines. Now I understand the argument against this asks who really is independent and non-partisan anymore? However, a great example of addressing this issues comes out of the state of Arizona, which currently has an independent redistrict commission. In Arizona, they appoint two Democrats, two Republicans, and an independent chairwoman to take census data and computer modeling to ensure the Congressional and Legislative districts are drawn to reflect the most recent census and ensure everyone’s vote matters. I would like to see Virginia adopt a similar model and take the drawing of district lines out of the hands of the people that have a vested interest in skewing results, legislators.

LeMunyon: We should look to how other states have changed their redistricting processes and adopt the best practices that are working elsewhere.


86th House District

Jennifer Boysko, Democrat*
Occupation: Public servant
Campaign website: jenniferboysko.com

Linda Schulz, Republican
Occupation: Market research professional
Campaign website: lindaforvirginia.com

Loudoun Now: Virginia’s controversial 2013 transportation funding bill has pumped tens of millions of dollars into Loudoun road construction projects. Do you support that approach? What are your solutions to the challenges of high Greenway tolls and Metro’s shaky financial standing?

Boysko

Boysko: The 2013 Transportation package was game-changing for the commonwealth, especially here in Northern Virginia. Gov. McAuliffe, VDOT and the regional transportation boards have done an excellent job of having shovel-ready projects ready to go and because of that they have been able to secure significant federal funding. Virginia’s use of public private partnerships has also saved the commonwealth millions of dollars on major projects. Distance-based tolling would provide some relief for residents using the toll roads in our region but we also need to set a floor on the current gas tax and index it for inflation. Many residents in the 86th District pay upwards of $200 per month to get to and from work in tolls. This is an unfair burden.

Linda Schulz has not responded to emailed questions or follow-up messages from Loudoun Now.

LN: State law prohibits counties and towns from removing or altering war memorials. Would you support legislation giving that authority to local elected representatives?

Boysko: Yes, I support giving localities the autonomy to make their own decisions. But keep in mind that as we continue to discuss the Confederate statues, we need to be reminded about what truly divides us. We’ve watched for months as certain political candidates and officials have used the threat of losing the statues as “code speak” to distract their constituents from the core issue:  the growing economic inequality we face in this country. Inciting fear and anger is an effective political tool to divide a community. We should not fall prey to this type of fear-mongering and allow it to distract us. Instead, we’ve got to find political solutions that empower all hardworking residents to find opportunities for success and protect the civil rights of everyone.

LN: Redistricting won’t occur until 2021, but the next General Assembly session could set new rules for how that process is conducted. In light of concerns about gerrymandering and relying on elected representatives to redraw their election districts, should Virginia change the process for drawing new electoral maps? If so, what is the best approach? If not, why not?

Boysko: I am a member of the Privileges and Elections Committee and spoke out in committee when my colleagues refused to take a vote on these issues. I co-patroned HJ 628, Virginia Redistricting Commission which would have established the Virginia Redistricting Commission to redraw congressional and General Assembly district boundaries after each decennial census. I continue to be frustrated that we could not get HJ 628, nor any other bill dealing with redistricting to a house floor vote during the 2017 session. I also support the efforts of the nonpartisan group OneVirginia2021.


87th House District

John J. Bell, Democrat*
Occupation: Retired U.S. Air Force major
Campaign website: johnbellfordelegate.com

Subba Kolla, Republican
Occupation: Realtor
Campaign website: subbakolla.com

Loudoun Now: Virginia’s controversial 2013 transportation funding bill has pumped tens of millions of dollars into Loudoun road construction projects. Do you support that approach? What are your solutions to the challenges of high Greenway tolls and Metro’s shaky financial standing?

Bell

Bell: I supported the 2013 transportation funding bill which was urgently needed to provide the funding necessary to address Virginia’s long standing transportation challenges. We must now focus on ensuring every dollar is spent wisely and generates the most benefit. I will continue to advocate Virginia’s plan to lower Greenway tolls with the only viable approach being a partial buyback of the road, which can occur at no taxpayer cost, in order to lower tolls and with an ownership interest it will ensure our best interests are considered. I believe additional oversight and cost controls are needed to control the costs of Metro. I’m outraged and the increases in cost and the appearance of a lack of financial discipline. I plan to propose legislation that will open the Dulles Toll road lanes which are currently being used for airport traffic to all commuters once the Metro lines to Dulles Airport are open. Currently, the airport access lanes are underutilized and once Metro service is provided to the airport I no longer see the need for this approach. Opening the lanes to all traffic will not only ease east-west commutes by providing four additional lanes, it will also increase Metro revenues and shore up Metro financial difficulties. In terms of Metro funding, I’m in favor of making sure Virginia’s investments in the Authority are protected and would demand WMATA provide greater insight to ensure funds are being used responsibly and professionally. I don’t think that’s the case now. I would insist on additional financial oversight, performance metrics and other measures to ensure Metro is properly managed and that we don’t have to continue revisiting the same issues again and again.

Kolla: As Loudoun County continues to expand our commercial base and attract and retain businesses, we need a fully functioning and cost-effective transportation system as a central selling point. Further, nothing frustrates our citizens like clogged roads and missing links. The efforts made by the General Assembly and the Board of Supervisors are a great start to solving these problems and I will fully support smart, effective transportation initiatives.

The Greenway needs alternatives, which is why I support Loudoun’s effort to complete Shellhorn Road and other roadways ahead of Metro’s opening. I pledge to work hand-in-hand with the Board of Supervisors and be a leader on the Greenway, much like former Delegate David Ramadan.

LN: State law prohibits counties and towns from removing or altering war memorials. Would you support legislation giving that authority to local elected representatives?

Bell: I believe that war memorials should be left to the discretion of the localities. While I believe that Confederate statues and flags have their proper place in museums and battlefields, I recognize that localities know what’s best for their communities and not the state.

Kolla

Kolla: As someone who has come to this country in the mid-90s I’ve seen the best of the American dream. I have different perspective than many. As Ed Gillespie and others have said, this isn’t a time for knee-jerk reaction to simply remove and erase history. We can and will find a balance between ensuring history is told accurately—good and bad—and ensuring we aren’t being insensitive.

LN: Redistricting won’t occur until 2021, but the next General Assembly session could set new rules for how that process is conducted. In light of concerns about gerrymandering and relying on elected representatives to redraw their election districts, should Virginia change the process for drawing new electoral maps? If so, what is the best approach? If not, why not?

Bell: I fully support nonpartisan redistricting. I have twice introduced legislation (2016 HJ 117 and 2017 HJ 749) that would implement the Shortest Splitline Method (watch a video at http://bit.ly/2c0Ruxx to learn more) that will take politics out of the districting process. I don’t trust either party to perform redistributing and I believe to the greatest extent possible politicians should be removed from the process.

Kolla: This is obviously before the Supreme Court and an issue that needs input from our highest court. The process of setting and establishing legislative districts has been in the hand of the legislature decade after decade. If I am fortunate enough to be elected and the next General Assembly does in fact establish some rules—which isn’t a given—I will be open to considering the best options.

Follow Election Day coverage at LoudounNow.com.

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