Loudoun’s General Assembly Candidates Talk Equal Rights, Partisanship

Close to 50 Loudouners filed into the Northern Virginia Community College Loudoun Campus auditorium Wednesday night to learn more about the views of 10 candidates, eight Democrats and two Republicans, running for spots in the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia Senate this November.

They were incumbent state Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-33) and her opponent, Leesburg Town Councilwoman and Republican Suzanne Fox; incumbentDel. Wendy Gooditis (D-10); Mavis Taintor, a Democrat running for Virginia’s 33rd House District seat; incumbent Del. Ibraheem Samirah (D-86); incumbent Del. John Bell (D-87), who is running for Virginia’s 13th Senate District seat; Bill Drennan, a Republican running to replace Bell in the 87th House District, and his opponent, Democrat Suhas Subramanyam; Ronnie Ross, a Democrat running for Virginia’s 27th Senate District seat; and incumbent Del. David Reid (D-32).

Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Loudoun County and NOVA-Loudoun Campus, the forum saw NOVA Communications Professor Carolyn Hurley and Loudoun Republican Party Issues Chairman Joe Luppino-Esposito present the candidates with questions crafted by attendees and event sponsors, with topics ranging from partisanship to transportation, gun legislation and equal rights for women.

One of the more responsive questions posed to the candidates dealt with their views on whether or not they felt partisanship prevents work from getting done in Richmond and what they’d do to solve that. While they all agreed that it’s possible for Democrats and Republicans to work together in the General Assembly, they had different thoughts on how that’s possible, with Gooditis noting that partisanship issues initially got her running for office.

Fox and Rossagreed that politicians need to start from the ground up and express their core values to each other when working to pass laws. Fox said she supports the thought of “principles over partisanship.”

Boysko said the General Assembly finds common ground on 90 percent of the work it does, and Reid mentioned it was bi-partisan work that led to the addition of $2.3 million in the state budget for the initial planning of the Children’s Science Museum in Sterling.

Drennan said the General Assembly is a more collegiate and friendly place than what most people might think. Samirah said that while such collegiality exists, so do issues, which divide parties. Subramanyam added that the existing political system often gets in the way of progress.

Bell mentioned that some of his best friends in the assembly are Republicans, and that they were some of the first people to call him when his son died earlier this year.

Taintor said she would approach the House with a “very open mind” to prevent partisanship issues from hindering work.

Many of the candidates also pointed out that gerrymandering—when politicians attempt to modify district lines to favor their party—has picked up in recent years and needs to be fixed.

The candidates were also asked about the Equal Rights Amendment, which has drawn mixed opinions from politicians in regard to whether or not it actually exists.

In 1972, the U.S. Congress approved the amendment and gave the states until 1979 to ratify it. While 35 states did so in that time, no more took action by the 1982 extension.

Some politicians argue that because the amendment didn’t include a ratification deadline, it’s indefinitely eligible for ratification—and now, after Nevada and Illinois ratified the amendment in recent years, only one more state needs to ratify it before it’s officially passed. But other politicians argue that the amendment has been dead for 37 years.

Drennan and Fox were the only two candidates at the forum to voice that thought. “There is no ERA, there is nothing to vote for … there is nothing to support, it is a nullity … I do not support dead legislation,” Drennan said.

Fox added that the amendment might not be necessary, since Virginian women already have equal pay and opportunity.

On the topic of transportation in Northern Virginia, all candidates agreed that traffic is a major issue. Many added that transportation is the region’s most pressing economic issue.

Fox specified that the high cost of tolls are affecting residents. Subramanyam agreed, joking that he knew the region’s most pertinent issue was transportation early on because people started contributing to his campaign when he publicly stated that it was.

Drennan said he would fight to keep more Northern Virginia taxes at home to fight the “traffic trauma,” noting that the region acts involuntarily as the state’s “piggy bank.” Bell said he’d look for more state funding to expand roads, since Loudoun is growing at a rate of 33 people each day.

Boysko and Reid identified workforce development as the most crucial economic issue, specifically that there aren’t enough adequately-qualified residents to fill 21st-century jobs.

Meanwhile, Ross said rural broadband was more important, while Samirah said the minimum wage needs to be raised and Taintor said the government needs to help rural businesses get their starts.

Gooditis was the only one to highlight that the cost of and accessibility to health care should come first, since “if we don’t have healthy people, then we don’t have a workforce.”

The topic of gun legislation solicited the usual partisan responses, and a bit of passion from some.

Drennan said residents have a constitutional right to bear arms and that many common-sense gun restrictions violate the Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Fox said the state legislature needs to balance constitutional rights with public safety and that the Constitution wasn’t written to restrain citizens’ behavior, but to restrain the government’s behavior.

Bell said the Constitution provides for a well-regulated militia, not a free-for-all. He pointed to a bill he has introduced four years in a row that would require in-person training for concealed carry permits. Reid also mentioned a bill he introduced in 2018 that would allow residents to purchase one handgun each month.

Taintor said red flag laws, which could permit police to confiscate firearms from people who pose a danger to themselves or others, need to be passed to reduce suicide rates.

Gooditis agreed, and while choking up and raising her voice, said the police who took her brother’s gun away when he was threatening suicide were required to give it back to him. Her brother later killed himself with that gun.

The 10 candidates are up for election on Nov. 5, along with about 60 other candidates looking to represent Loudoun in local, state and federal capacities.


About 50 people spent Wednesday night at the Northern Virginia Community College Loudoun Campus learning more about the views of 10 General Assembly candidates, five of which were incumbent. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]

12 thoughts on “Loudoun’s General Assembly Candidates Talk Equal Rights, Partisanship

  • 2019-10-17 at 3:11 pm

    “Bell said the Constitution provides for a well-regulated militia, not a free-for-all.”

    Bazooka Johnny Bell is a constitutional scholar now? Who knew? Keep in mind, this is a guy who publicly believes citizens can buy grenades and bazookas. Does that sound like a person actually grounded in reality?

  • 2019-10-17 at 5:45 pm

    First, I’d like to give a great big THANK YOU to Suzanne Fox for stepping up and running as a Republican in a blue district. I’m appalled at how often the Republican Party just rolls over in hard to win districts and does not run a candidate.

    Second, “bi-partisan work that led to the addition of $2.3 million in the state budget….” Politicians always find ways to be bipartisan when they are spending other people’s money. It is the one thing Dems and Repubs sing kumbaya on over and over and over.

    Third, the 2nd Amendment is the law of the land. It can be changed by a constitutional amendment. Until that happens, the government has no legal authority to abridge an individual’s right unless a due process of law has occurred. If someone has not committed a crime, a right can not be rescinded. The government does not have that authority and any politician that supports taking a person’s rights is a danger to society and our nation. The whole purpose of the Bill of Rights is to prevent the government from doing things (as Fox noted) and preventing them from confiscating firearms is one of those items. Do not vote for any pro-“red flag” communists.

    • 2019-10-22 at 11:34 am

      “Third, the 2nd Amendment is the law of the land. It can be changed by a constitutional amendment. Until that happens, the government has no legal authority to abridge an individual’s right unless a due process of law has occurred.”

      Can we quote you when an abortion ban is debated in the House of Delegates, or an abortion case goes before the Supreme Court?

      It amazes me, just about every “right” we have is subject to Federal court debate and interpretation practically every month (speech, press, religion, reproductive rights, voting, etc.). The one “Freedom” (based on the flimsiest written amendment- literally two run-on sentences), should not be interpreted by the courts, according the the NRA and their ilk.

  • 2019-10-17 at 7:17 pm

    Thank goodness Fox was there to offset the 3rd trimester, Ralph Northam supporting, human destroyer, Boysko.

  • 2019-10-21 at 10:50 am

    Wow, Bill Drennan! YOU GO! You stood firmly against the Equal Rights Amendment in 2019, during a worldwide women’s rights resurgence and push back, and, you declared no gun restrictions under your watch, claiming the right for states to have a “well-regulated militia” means “no regulations on guns to the individual,” by your logic. I can tell you, Bill, the district is full of educated Moms, and educated Moms don’t like being looked at as second class citizens because they are women. Educated Moms also don’t like all these unregulated guns. Just ask Barbara Comstock and Corey Stewart how the gun issue and women’s rights issues worked out for them in Loudoun County. Keep talking my friend, and tell us again how the Democrats made up this whole Ukraine thing to redo the 2016 election.

  • 2019-10-21 at 6:39 pm

    Partisanship prevents OUR representatives from criticizing the plurality of similarly labeled partisans from southern counties for the harvesting they do to Loudoun and Fairfax by using the composite index to literally take $750 BILLION out of the two most northern counties. Sales taxes are supposed to be used to support schools which Loudoun now has about $4.4 billion in backlogged construction with 40 schools showing in the September 30th report as crowded. Even our BOS has done little to even try to correct this abusive relationship as even VDOT is seriously and deliberately underfunded by the state for the same reasons. Apparently Loudoun doesn’t need the money from the state as our property tax rate is 33% higher than the rest of the state. VOTING COUNTS!

  • 2019-10-22 at 3:44 pm

    The only person calling “educated Moms” (whatever that means, as I beleive all mothers are educated) “second class citizens” is you Fun. No other person in Loudoun subscribes to your silly and demeaning statement, except the radical fringe.

    Aside from hiding behind a nom de guerre, I doubt you posses the technical capacity or intellectual desire to tell between which is an unregulated gun, and which isn’t. Since you’re against the Due Process protections and civil rights of your neighbors, little wonder why you hide your name.

  • 2019-10-23 at 9:41 am

    If you look at Bill Drennan’s, website he falsely claims Democrats in Richmond had proposed “legislation that would have eliminated restrictions on third-trimester abortions and legalized infanticide.” He is using an untrue and dishonest statement to create a wedge issue to attack women’s rights. He has suggested women who get abortions should wear ankle bracelets, and he, as a man, knows their should be more “common sense restrictions” on abortion. He refused to say if he supports the ERA. He also opposes red-flag laws that he claims are designed to “strip citizens of their unalienable rights.” [Guns]. What group mostly benefits from red flag laws? Women from abusive relationships. How can you Not say he is callous to personal issues relating to women?

  • 2019-10-23 at 11:30 am

    Perhaps you just moved to Virginia Fun, because democrats most certainly attempted to pass a bill to eliminate reasonable medical restrictions in order to kill human infants up to the very second of live birth. It was HB2491. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?191+sum+HB2491 in case you missed it.

    Shortly after that inhuman effort, the democrat governor told an area radio station that infanticide was perfectly acceptable. In his own words: https://wtop.com/local-politics-elections-news/2019/01/va-gov-northam-draws-outrage-from-gop-for-defending-abortion-bill/

    What he describes is defined as murder in Virginia. This in turn led to the reveal of him being an enthusiastic practitioner of blackface or wearing KKK outfits. He wouldn’t say which he was, so he did the next best thing: he backtracked, and claimed he didn’t know anything about it. That is what reasonable people call a lie.

    So called Red Flag laws are in direct contradiction with Due Process protections at the federal and state level. You’ve made clear you have no problem whatsoever stripping your neighbors of their Due Process protections and civil rights. I bet they’d be thrilled to know that about you.

    You call women in Loudoun County “second class citizens,” as well as question the educational level of Mom’s in Loudoun. You are the only one saying these insults against women. You say bills were never introduced, which everybody in Virginia knows for a fact were introduced and debated, and you tell all of us our legal protections and civil rights are worthless in your fringe opinion. No wonder you hide behind anonymity.

  • 2019-10-24 at 8:45 am

    A New York Times cover up opinion piece with a basic outline of what you swore to us above, never happened. It blames Del. Tran for screwing up, and attempts to tell us we didn’t actually hear what Gov.Blackface/KKK/Infanticide guy said. Who are we going to believe Fun, our lying eyes and ears, or the smug and error prone NYT?

    How’s the effort to strip all of your neighbors of their Due Process protections and personal property going? Go a petition making the rounds?

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