This week, Fairfax County Times is endorsing candidates in the 13 House of Delegates races being contested in Fairfax County. Next week, we will weigh in on statewide races.
Vanderhye for Delegate in the 34th
McLean and Great Falls residents in the 34th District should be glad to know that they have two very qualified, competent women seeking that office. Democrat Margaret Vanderhye edges out her Republican challenger, Barbara Comstock, based on her record. While she didn't achieve anything headline-grabbing during her first term, Vanderhye has a well-informed, nuanced perspective on state issues and has demonstrated that she can get bills passed on a bipartisan basis. Comstock seems too quick to spout the party line instead of offering her own ideas, so we are not sure she would be the best advocate for Fairfax County issues.
The 34th House District includes McLean, Great Falls and parts of Herndon and Vienna.
Keam for Delegate in the 35th
From our perspective, Democrat Mark Keam is just what the doctor ordered for Fairfax County and the 35th District. Like everyone else running for elected office this year, he understands that there isn't a lot of money in Richmond right now. Unlike some others, Keam actually has some ideas on getting around that problem in the short and long term. He speaks convincingly about positioning Fairfax County as a world leader on the clean energy front by better leveraging our location, diversity and abundance of skilled labor. Keam also believes Virginia could save itself millions of dollars with more strategic use of technology on the transportation, education and public safety fronts. It's also worth noting that as a Korean immigrant who was raised in California, Keam would bring some diversity to a legislative body that doesn't have much at the moment.
The 35th House District includes the Town of Vienna and parts of Oakton and Reston.
Plum for Delegate in the 36th
Democrat Ken Plum has been representing Reston residents since the Carter administration. While some are suggesting 30-plus years as a delegate is long enough, we haven't seen any indication that Plum is slowing down. In fact, we'd be hard-pressed to find another legislator who attends more local meetings or is more visible in their community than Plum. He knows the 36th District and has a good handle on the issues transportation, education and environment that matter most to his constituents. His Republican challenger, Mac Cannon, would have a tough time filling Plum's shoes down south.
The 36th House District includes Reston.
Smith for Delegate in the 38th
We like what we're hearing from Republican Danny Smith, who has some interesting thoughts on improving Fairfax County's transportation, education, and economic outlook. Smith's idea of setting smaller, more attainable transportation objectives in order to regain the trust of Fairfax residents who've been sending dollars to Richmond for 20-plus years certainly resonates with us. He also has strong opinions on tailoring K-12 education to our high-tech world, saying math and science need to be getting more attention in our classrooms. Democrat Kaye Kory's decade on the Fairfax County School Board would serve her well as a delegate, but it's not enough to dissuade us from backing Smith.
The 38th House District includes parts of Annandale and Falls Church.
Watts for Delegate in the 39th
It's never a good thing when a longtime incumbent looks up to find three people battling for her seat, but Vivian Watts (D) remains the right person to lead this district. While not the most visible member of Fairfax County's delegation, Watts' record is full of legislation that has benefitted commuters, senior citizens, schoolchildren, veterans and just about everyone else who calls Fairfax home. Most recently, Watts worked tirelessly to ensure that the Capital Beltway HOT lanes project entailed more than making money and moving cars. Thanks to her efforts, sound walls accompanying the project will be higher; countless trees will be planted or preserved; and access to Inova Fairfax Hospital from the new lanes will be much easier. Through the years, the feedback we've received from the 39th District is that Watts genuinely cares about improving the lives of her constituents and knows how to work the system in Richmond.
The 39th House District includes parts of Annandale and Springfield.
Hugo for Delegate in the 40th
Tim Hugo's pragmatic approach to solving problems in Northern Virginia isn't going unnoticed. Whether it's tackling state transportation funding or jazzing up downtown Clifton, Hugo understands that a good ear can go a lot further than a booming voice.
Hugo has been involved in pushing for things like teleworking and access to higher education for in-state students, where his willingness to compromise and reach across the aisle serves him well. He deserves at least two more years in the General Assembly.
The 40th House District includes the Town of Clifton, Centreville and Fairfax Station.
Marsden for Delegate in the 41st
The 41st House race, which pits Democrat incumbent Dave Marsden against Republican challenger Kerry Bolognese, has been relatively quiet. Both Marsden and Bolognese say they'll find efficiencies in the budget before raising taxes on cash-strapped residents. Bolognese believes mass transit and telecommuting could reduce the need for some expensive road-building projects. Marsden also has some money-saving ideas, including a pilot program that keeps people with minor criminal offenses out of jail by treating their substance abuse or mental health problem externally. It's Marsden, the responsive, well-liked incumbent who is attentive to the needs of his constituents, who deserves another two years in Richmond.
The 41st House District includes Burke, West Springfield and parts of Annandale.
Albo for Delegate in the 42nd
Democrat challenger Greg Werkheiser claims incumbent Del. Dave Albo (R) is more loyal to his Republican colleagues in Richmond than his 60,000 constituents in southern Fairfax. We don't buy that. While Albo's opposition to anything that remotely resembles a tax hike has its downside, few legislators in the state have been more effective at navigating the murky halls of Richmond and delivering on everyday issues affordable insurance, public safety and access to higher education among them. As much as we like Werkheiser and we do the feeling here is that Fairfax County would lose some clout in the General Assembly if Albo were defeated.
The 42nd House District includes parts of Springfield and Fairfax Station.
Sickles for Delegate in the 43rd
Since winning a House seat in 2003, Del. Mark Sickles (D) has built a solid record on core issues like transportation, education and public safety. He has also put a significant amount of time into subjects that don't always grab headlines but positively affect Virginians. One small example is a bill he put together this year that allows nurses and pharmacists across the state to administer the flu vaccine to minors not under the direct supervision of a doctor. As a result, Virginia's overburdened health system is undoubtedly running a little more smoothly this year. Sickles, whose name was attached to a dozen other sensible bills this year, deserves two more years in Richmond.
The 43rd House District includes Alexandria and Springfield.
McConville for Delegate in the 44th
Of all the candidates we encountered during the current election cycle, few impressed us more than Republican Jay McConville. We like his energy, we like his optimism and we like his determination. We also like his plans for the 44th District, a diverse area that includes some of Fairfax County's wealthiest and poorest residents.
The centerpiece of McConville's campaign includes revitalizing the Route 1 corridor, a traffic-choked artery that leads the region in pedestrians killed and businesses shuttered. While securing transportation dollars is part of the Route 1 solution, McConville also speaks passionately about re-establishing "a sense of community" through volunteer work and simply taking more pride in the area's parks, schools and neighborhoods. As a longtime community leader who currently serves as president of the Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association, that case won't be a difficult one for McConville to make. Several other McConville ideas including merit-based pay for teachers and increasing public-private partnerships to bridge funding gaps also caught our attention.
The 44th District includes parts of Alexandria and Mount Vernon.
Scott for Delegate in the 53rd
Republican challenger Chris Merola claims it's time for a leadership change in the 53rd District. Perhaps, but we're not convinced the inexperienced Merola is the guy to step in for Jim Scott (D), a nine-term incumbent whose 18-year legislative career has been more steady than spectacular. We're always wary of elected officials who point across the aisle whenever bills fail or funding comes up short, something Scott did recently when asked why, as a ranking member on the House subcommittee overseeing transportation funding, he couldn't help deliver dollars for Northern Virginia. All of that said, Scott has a good handle on his district and certainly has enough contacts in Richmond to be a positive force for change.
The 53rd House District includes the City of Falls Church and Merrifield.
Caputo for Delegate in the 67th
Two years ago, Democrat Chuck Caputo earned our endorsement based largely on his ability to listen to constituents and act on their concerns in Richmond. Fortunately for the 65,000 folks living in the 67th District, not much has changed. Caputo, who has called Chantilly home for more than 40 years, has helped secure funding for several key transportation projects, including the widening of Route 50 from Fairfax into Loudoun County and a handful of other connections that helped keep traffic moving in his district. Caputo has also been a friend to students, business owners and those grappling with mental health issues. We liked a lot of the things Republican challenger Jim LeMunyon had to say about bringing business to Northern Virginia and fixing transportation, but feel strongly that Caputo remains the right person to represent this district.
The 67th House District includes Chantilly, Oak Hill and parts of Loudoun County.
Rust for Delegate in the 86th
Although Democrat challenger Stevens Miller brings good ideas and energy to the 86th House race, we don't think it's time for incumbent Tom Rust to go. During his seven years in Richmond, Rust has taken the lead on a handful of key transportation initiatives, worked tirelessly to give local governments more tools and been a staunch supporter of the business community. It's also worth noting that he has a long history of working across party lines to get things done.
The 86th House District includes Herndon, Oak Hill and parts of Loudoun County.