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Votes

In the Race for the 39th

Del. Jay O'Brien

<lst>Age: 50

Occupation: Owner- Furniture Business

Town of Residence: Clifton

Why are you running?

All my life serving the public has been a cornerstone of my values. My father graduated from West Point on D-Day and served in the military. I followed him to the Academy and then spent five years in the Army on active duty. I am currently a Colonel in the Reserve unit. For the past 11 years, I have served as a member in the Virginia House of Delegates. In that time I have been re-elected five times, a sign that my constituents feel I am representing their needs well. If the voters in the new district elect me to the State Senate, I will use the opportunity to serve them in the same manner as my current constituents.

What do you believe are the major issues in the 39th District?

There are two other issues besides transportation that are very important to Northern Virginians: education and the state budget. These two issues go hand in hand. Right now when revenues are not at the level we enjoyed in the past decade, we have to make tough budget decisions. The governor has decided not to make these cuts in education and I support that stand. While we won the battle to ensure lottery proceeds for public education, we have to continue to find money for a teachers' salary increase, school improvements and school construction. At a time when state universities are going to increase tuition, I support the higher education ballot initiative that allocates funds for capital improvement projects at universities like George Mason. I also support the plan to build the South County High School. Additionally, I am proud to have co-sponsored the legislation creating the Pre-Paid College Tuition Fund that allows parents to invest in future tuition at fixed rates.

What is your stance on the proposed sales-tax increase?

I am opposed to the sales tax increase. During the latest General Assembly Session I voted to give our localities the right to decide this question at the polls. However, personally, I am not willing to pay a "cost of living" sur-tax for living in Northern Virginia. We already pay at the pumps and because our tax dollars go elsewhere, we am now being asked to pay again. I also voted against putting the creation of an education referendum question because, as it was written, 35 percent of the money created by our citizens would have left the region. That is absurd, and we need to fight for "our fair share" by changing the funding formula. The Secretary of Transportation Whitt Clement publicly stated that if the referendum fails we will be forced to change the funding formula. Additionally, it was the recommendation of JLARC, the oversight body of the legislature, that changing the funding formula will most accurately distribute transportation funds. We have been unable to change the formula in the past because we have lacked the majority of votes to make it happen. Now, through redistricting, we can form a coalition to create the majority needed for change. I would fight to create a coalition of Northern Virginia legislators along with those from Eastern Virginia where collectively the population is largest, to make the formula change. If that happens and the formula is then changed to reflect registered vehicles, the population density of our area will be properly represented when the funding is appropriated to localities. Additionally, I am creating a Constitutional Amendment to ensure no more raids on our transportation funds. Recently, the fund was raided of $317 million and we cannot tolerate such raids in the future. These acts are dishonest and erode public confidence in our intentions.

If elected, I will ...

Put the concerns and needs of my constituents first. I have not served in the "House of O'Brien," I have served in the House of Delegates. My constituents will have confidence that I will be responsive and accountable to them. The goals of my term will be to improve funding for public education and to change the funding formula to get Northern Virginians our fair share in transportation funds. Additionally, I will fight to ensure that cuts in public safety funding are limited if at all. I was the sponsor of Megan's Law in Virginia to ensure that sex offenders register when they move into a new community, and I was a co-sponsor of the legislation setting up the Virginia Security Commission to study, report and make recommendations regarding the prevention of terrorist threats and organized criminal activity in the Commonwealth. I will continue in this spirit because we can never feel too safe.

Why should people vote for you?

The biggest difference between my opponent and me is that she has no legislative experience while I have effectively served in the state legislature for over 10 years. To best serve your constituents, you must have a firm base of knowledge to steer legislation and build coalitions to obtain your goals. Currently, I serve on four legislative committees. I am a member of the House Education Committee and chair a Sub-committee on Students and Day Care. I was the chairman on a legislative committee studying voting procedures and presently I chair a commission studying government efficiency and reform. My experience is an asset for the district because they can trust that their senator has the wherewithal to serve their needs and act as a strong voice for the region.