Virginia State Senate, District 33 (2019 - Present)
1. How does Virginia’s transportation funding formula benefit Loudoun County and what, if anything, should be done to improve the current process?
There is not just one formula. One important effort was the 2013 transportation legislation funding our regional needs. While Loudoun County benefits from the complex funding process prioritizing shovel ready projects based on objective criteria, it continues to be underfunded. Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, VDOT, Loudoun County and others, including the public via comments, all have a role in selecting the projects - careful local planning is critical.
In 2018, I worked closely with our regional Chambers of Commerce supporting a legislative plan to bring new revenues for metro funding with new taxing. Unfortunately, the deal failed, forcing the use of millions of local planning dollars for road improvement and maintenance to go to the metro. (Metro funding is critical and I fully supported the final bill because it is vital for transportation and our local economy.) Now we must work collaboratively with our local governments, regional chambers and businesses to restructure the Metro funding formula and recover our local funding dollars. As a member of the Senate Committee on Transportation, I pledge to make that a top priority.
Additionally, we must work with our Congressional delegation to get the Federal Government to pay its fair share for metro and for our transportation network. I support Virginia’s use of Public-Private Partnerships, saving the Commonwealth millions of dollars on the major projects.
2. How would you more effectively align the Commonwealth’s and the County’s sources of revenue with their respective service responsibilities?
Localities, especially counties, must have the autonomy to diversify their funding streams. I make it a point to listen to and collaborate with our county and town governments to advocate for their priorities. This past session, I was able to bring significant resources to Loudoun County including funding to secure a land transfer from Loudoun County to the state park system in Loudoun County near Harpers Ferry. I also worked to secure funding for a new Children’s Science Center. I supported funding the seat for a judge on the Loudoun County Circuit Court and I will continue to work on funding the judicial system so that the judges are not forced to triple book their time and Virginians are not forced to wait months for needed legal decisions.
I have co-sponsored projects such as the incentive package to bring Amazon HQ2 to Virginia to expand and diversify our economy. I support GO Virginia and other regional approaches to making decisions about where economic funding should be placed. I support continuing the commitment to state funding for these initiatives.
We should continue working directly with VEDP and local economic development authorities. Additionally, I have experience working at the local County level and understand the needs our localities face. We have the ability to harness local, state, federal and private funds through incentivization.
I also work with our county and town governments to advocate for their priorities on transportation, education, human services and to discourage unfunded mandates on them.
3. With Virginia facing a teacher shortage crisis, what current or future measures will you support that will have an impact on this challenge?
Having served on the House Education Committee I understand very well the challenges our schools face in retaining teachers and staff. Teachers must be paid a competitive wage, have sufficient support staff, and have autonomy in the classroom rather than be forced to teach to the test. I was proud to vote in favor of a state pay raise for teachers and support staff. It is essential to fully meet our constitutional responsibility to adequately fund K through 12 education. State direct aid per student, adjusted for inflation, is up 16% in Loudoun County and I have supported those efforts. But we need to do more: statewide per-pupil funding, adjusted for inflation, for K-12 education is still down 9 percent since the 2008-2009 school year while the student population is projected to have grown by more than 53,000 students and staffing has declined by 1,242 positions.
I copatroned legislation to enable teachers with full credentials from another state to teach in Virginia and support the new program to graduate teachers in four rather than the current five years at 7 Virginia colleges. These programs are expected to cut the teacher shortage in half. I will continue to find ways for individuals to earn their credentials, creating an affordable path for our future teachers.
4. How can the Commonwealth become a more effective partner in addressing Loudoun’s housing affordability challenge?
The Commonwealth can work with community leaders like Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, who supported a private public partnership to build the Kincora affordable housing development in Sterling. The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development recently awarded $11 million in Affordable and Special Needs Housing loans for 17 projects throughout the Commonwealth, creating or preserving 1,283 affordable housing units that will target low-income and very low-income Virginians. The General Assembly doubled the funding this year and should continue to increase funding for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund so that communities can leverage local funds, private funds, and funds from nonprofits with state money to retrofit and preserve existing housing and to build new affordable housing.
Tax incentives can attract public private partnerships like Kincora, as well as the development of mixed use, well planned communities with diverse price points. Working with local communities is very important as they know what neighborhoods are most in need of improvement and where there is land available for development.
5. Do you support Virginia’s Right To Work laws? Why or why not? If not, what superior solution would you propose?
I am on the record opposing the constitutional amendment that would have enshrined RTW in our Constitution and believe the issue is used as a political football. Other states where union membership is strong have robust economies. This does not have to be a win-lose issue. Our energy would be better used working collaboratively to bring more high tech, diverse businesses into Virginia like Amazon, that will provide high paying jobs and continue to build the economy. We should work to increase access to broadband, encourage higher educational opportunities, including apprenticeships and workforce certifications. I will continue working with businesses and stakeholders to create good policies for working families like paid family and medical leave and affordable healthcare.
6. Please describe what best qualifies you to hold the office you’re seeking.
Politically, I am the candidate most closely aligned with the residents of the 33rd district. I am hardworking, practical, compassionate, and fiscally responsible. Having worked in local government and serving on the House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee and the House Education Committee, as well as the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, I have a deep understanding of our community’s needs and how to harness resources for our community. I work with local businesses, community organizations and constituents and am committed to finding solutions to their problems, regardless of whether we agree on issues or not.
As a member of the Senate Transportation Committee and with my background in local government transportation planning, I have the knowledge needed to bring additional state funding for transportation to Loudoun County and to find ways to make transportation both efficient and affordable.
I have served in a variety of leadership positions over the past 3 decades and built an extensive network of contacts in nonprofits, businesses and government throughout the Commonwealth. These relationships are invaluable when building support for legislation important to Loudoun County and solving constituent problems. In my special election held in January, I earned the endorsement of virtually every organization possible, including the VA Chamber, Teachers, Firefighters, Realtors, League of Conservation Voters, because they recognize that I am the best person for the job. I will win this race and look forward to continuing our work with Loudoun Chamber members.
Source: BizVotes Candidates Questionnaire