Joe T. May, a former state delegate and owner of electronics manufacturer EIT, said he’s considering throwing his hat in the ring for the 33rd state Senate seat. The seat will be vacated by Congresswoman-elect Jennifer Wexton, who’s represented the district since 2014.
Republicans announced Thursday that they will hold a mass meeting at 5 p.m. Sunday at Fairfax Christian School, 22870 Pacific Blvd. in Dulles, to select a candidate to run in the special election. Interested candidates are not required to file a written statement, but are invited to email email@example.com ahead of the meeting.
Two other Republicans, Pete Godston, an Iraq war veteran and entrepreneur from Sterling, and Arash Ebrahimi, the son of a Persian immigrant and Herndon resident who designs software applications, have formally announced plans to seek the GOP nomination.
May, 81, represented the 33rd House District in Richmond from 1994 to 2014. He served on some of the most influential committees, including the Appropriations Committee for 16 years, the Science and Technology Committee, which he chaired for 12 years; and the Transportation Committee, which he also chaired for six years. In that role, he was considered the architect of the landmark 2013 transportation bill that has since raised billions in new transportation money. His work on the legislation came back to hurt him a few months after it passed, when challenger David LaRock, who criticized the deal as a tax hike, defeated May in a party primary.
In December 2013, May ran as an independent for the 33rd Senate District to replace Mark Herring, following his election as attorney general. John Whitbeck won the Republican nomination in the race ultimately won by Wexton, the Democratic nominee.
With many Loudoun County voters considered centrists, May said the political climate in the 33rd Senate District might be just right for a candidate like him.
“There is a need for a moderate conservative and less demand for a very far left candidate. We’ve certainly seen plenty of that arising and it hasn’t been pretty,” he said, adding that he’d like to return to Richmond to work across party lines to make progress in transportation, higher education, and technology policy. “I think the prospect of public service has gotten a little bit buried in verbal exchanges.”
Among his accomplishments during his tenure in the House, May pointed to the transportation funding bill, about which he said “If I had to do it all over again I would;” changing drivers licenses’ expiration date from the end of the month to drivers’ birthdays so everyone isn’t going to DMV offices on the same day; and the Rural Rustic Roads program, which he authored, that allows newly paved roads to remain in their original confines instead of the initial law that required widening lanes and rights of way and other design standards. May cited a VDOT report that estimated that change saved $270 million in transportation funding over the past six years.
“I have additional ideas for how to improve transportation, and I’d love the opportunity to work with some of the same folks I’ve worked with previously to see what we can accomplish,” May said. “I think we can do great things together.”
He would also like to work on policy to improve higher education and technology law. May has created or supported several programs to advance STEM education, including the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars program and an engineering pathway program at Virginia Tech funded by his family foundation. He launched George C. Marshall International Center’s Marshalling STEM program that invites young people interested in STEM careers to spend two weeks shadowing German companies. He is also active in the Loudoun Laurels, which gives four-year scholarships to promising students with financial need.
May, an inventor and engineer, founded EIT in 1977. He holds 28 patents and has others pending.
Democrats are holding a firehouse primary election 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, to select their candidate. Three names are on the ballot: Del. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-86), community activist Charlotte McConnell, and newspaper editor and consultant Sharafat Hussain.
The Democrat selected in that primary will face the Republican chosen from Sunday’s mass meeting in the special election scheduled for Jan. 8.