I spent the past five years at the table with elected officials, community representatives and senior staff from the region, identifying and planning the best land use and transportation solutions surrounding our Herndon and Innovation Center Metro stations. I understand the potential economic benefits of Metrorail. Creating new Transit Oriented Development regions, with multi-modal access will help get cars off the road and allow residents to live, work and play closer to home. In my capacity as aide to Supervisor Foust I worked to ensure that surrounding business leaders and residents have also been a part of the conversation. Unfortunately, without a consistent source of state funding these plans will not come to fruition. Meanwhile, the toll road down in Norfolk is traffic-free and received 1.4 billion dollars in 2012. While the big transportation bill from a few years ago moved us in the right direction, one area where it took a step back was by depriving transporation dollars through a lower gas tax. We should instead reevaluate the gas tax rate and index it to grow along with our transportation and population needs.
I oppose any legislation that would require transfer of secondary road maintenance to the counties, especially if it is not accompanied with adequate revenue enhancements. I spent hours with constituents working to help them resolve simple maintenance issues, from potholes to overgrown grass in the medians. VDOT has failed because there is not adequate funding. The state has to fulfill its responsibility to its citizens. The Fairfax County secondary road program budget has declined from $29,000,000 in 2004, to $240,000 in 2010, to literally $0 in 2011 to 2013, and is projected to remain at $0 through 2018. This is not acceptable, especially when the state is considering adding tolls to I-66 to carpoolers who've already paid tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. When we add a cost to commuters while depriving resources, we're given a dangerous double hit to our family budgets and local economy.
As a mother and a PTA board member I know it is essential that the state fully meet its constitutional responsibility to adequately fund K through 12 education. Unfortunately, budgets adopted by the General Assembly exacerbate the stresses on state and local K through 12 partnerships. Teachers have lost autonomy in the classroom and students are learning how to take standardized multiple-choice tests instead of being able to focus on critical thinking and problem solving. Lawmakers in Richmond continue to block legislation that would allow localities to set start times before Labor Day. This significantly limits the time students have to prepare for their Advanced Placement exams, which handicaps them as tests are scheduled nationwide.
As the Education Aid for Supervisor John Foust I worked with Dranesville District schools and nonprofits to help find ways to serve children in places there were deficits. I worked to provide food for children over the weekend, held shoe drives and spent numerous hours as a volunteer in my daughter’s school, advocating for all students.
I also worked closely with the Unified Prevention Coalition as a parent and a representative of Supervisor Foust. As Parent Education chair I organized events and programs to discuss ways to prevent alcohol and drug abuse with our teens, the importance of sleep and stress management, and the overall health and wellness of our students.
Health & Human Services
The Commonwealth of Virginia has long contracted with the Community Services Boards statewide to provide early intervention therapeutic services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays. Current state funding levels are not sufficient to keep pace with enrollment growth. If additional state funding is not committed the shortfall could require the placement of newly eligible families on a waiting list beginning this year. The Infant and Toddler Connection program in Fairfax County has seen a 46% increase in demand in the last two years, from 789 children per month in 2010 to an average of 1,155 children per month in 2012. I worked with parents in our community who are facing these issues and who are desperately seeking these services for their children, but are unable to, due to lack of funding.
I am a strong supporter of the expansion of Medicaid and recognize individuals who need extended services beyond the standard benefits. I support increasing the Medicaid eligibility in Virginia to 138 percent of the federal poverty level as envisioned by the federal health care reform law. Physical and mental health services, as well as dental services, should be included in the Medicaid expansion. Virginia’s eligibility requirements are so strict that although we are eleventh in the nation for population and seventh in per capita income, we rank forty-third in Medicaid enrollment in proportion of our population and forty-seventh in per capita Medicaid spending. I oppose shifting Medicaid costs to localities. Physicians and the medical community should also have a voice in the planning process as the policy is finalized.
The Medicaid waiver should provide critical home and community based services for qualified individuals. Again, Virginia ranks seventh in per capita income and yet is 47th in Medicaid spending for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities. States nationwide set their own income and asset eligibility criteria within federal guidelines. The waiver system must be reformulated. When we take care of our most vulnerable residents it shows we have a commitment to our entire community. We can do better.
I support Roe vs. Wade and the right to a safe, legal abortion and access to contraception. I believe it should be a settled issue. Contraception should be available to all who need it. I have actively worked at the grassroots level with NARAL and Planned Parenthood since I was a college student at Hollins University in the mid 1980’s.
As Delegate I would work towards comprehensive immigration reform that includes the DREAM Act. Young people who have lived here for years and were brought here through no fault of their own should be able to earn citizenship through military service or the pursuit of higher education. I’ve volunteered my time to teach English as a second language, I’ve advocated for our local workers and spoken up over the past decade to show my support, even when it was not politically advantageous. I have been a consistent and long-time advocate on immigration issues because to me it has always been a question of doing the right thing. It’s not just a political position.
My father is a retired Episcopal priest and my mother a nurse and I grew up in the Deep South. My parents raised me with a strong sense of social justice. I worked my whole life as a grassroots activist to stand up for those who face discrimination. From the time I was in the 6th grade, working to make our crossing guard patrol coed at my school to the past ten years helping create the group HEART (Herndon Embraces All with Respect and Tolerance), I’ve consistently been a voice for fairness and inclusion. As a mother to two teenage children, I placed a priority on my husband and I raising our girls to be open-minded and to stand up for others as well.
I believe that diversity and inclusivity are hallmarks of a healthy community. Whether racial, socioeconomic, sexual orientation or cultural, or faith a diverse community has the capacity to make us all richer as we learn from one another. Every person should have the fundamental right to make decisions for themselves about their most personal and private family issues.
Over the past five years I have had the significant opportunity to take a lead on environmental issues in my community work for Dranesville Supervisor John Foust. I was part of an inter-jurisdictional transportation team where we identified small, reasonable future road connections in the Dulles region rather than advocating for large new highways working with VDOT, WMATA, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Town of Herndon staff.
I helped craft the language for the Comprehensive Plans for the Dranesville District (APR) Area Plan Review process, with a strong emphasis on environmental standards and considerations, assuring that language was included that stipulated the need for LEED certified buildings and to make assurances for adequate storm water management in any new land use.
Virginia must adopt cleaner sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. Investing in new forms of energy throughout our state will not only be better for the environment, but also will create more jobs and help boost the economy. While renewable energy facilities, particularly wind and solar, have a higher construction cost, their fuel cost is minimal. I would be proud to sponsor or support bills incentivizing the use and exploration of alternative energy sources.
Clean water should not be a party issue; we need to work across the aisle to ensure we are protecting one of nature’s most valuable resources. I am committed to cleaning up our rivers, lakes, and streams, continuing with, and improving our clean water plan.
Jobs & The Economy
Northern Virginia has enjoyed a robust and growing economy for the last two decades. Especially in the 86th District, economic health has been largely driven by the Federal government and government contracting related businesses. Since the Sequestration and recent Federal government shutdown, numerous local businesses and residents have been disproportionately and adversely affected. It's is imperative that efforts be initiated and supported to diversify the region’s economic base and to expand its business focus.
Seated in the heart of the Dulles corridor, the 86th District is well suited to expand its role in Virginia's technology-focused economy. I strongly support targeting scientific research, health care, alternative energy industry and innovation to recruit them to in the region. We should find ways to encourage new startup businesses to locate in the Dulles corridor. Newly created businesses are expected to be the principal source of new jobs in Northern Virginia in the coming decades. I will work closely with our excellent colleges and universities to attract high quality students. We need to make sure there are jobs for the graduates of these programs. I will work with the business community on policies designed to attract and retain a talented work force in Northern Virginia. Finally, I will be a vigorous advocate for efforts to improve our burdened transportation system, which is vitally important to sustaining our economic development.
A Final Note
After years working with our neighbors who are facing all of these challenges I understand the difficulties we confront on a daily basis. I will continue to advocate on our behalf. Education, health care and human services are all connected in so many ways. I will work to make strides in these area, but also to make sure they are operated in a fiscally responsible manner. I will strive to streamline these services in order to create the most efficient and effective solution. I will also continue to work toward creating long-term transportation and infrastructure solutions, two vital components to the quality of life and economic health of our region. Government should work for us, not for a political party, not for a personal agenda.
This race should not be not about personalities or personal friendships. It’s about policy that will affect thousands of Virginians. I will be a strong voice in Richmond for you and I ask for your support on November 3rd.