Clifton's Tim Hugo really hopes Del. James K. "Jay" O'Brien (R-40th) will be elected senator in the 39th District. That's because, if O'Brien wins, his seat in the 40th district will be up for grabs — and Hugo wants to fill it.
"Politics is a means where everybody can make their little slice of the world better by participating," he said. "I really believe it's incumbent on all of us to do what we can do."
A Republican, Hugo, 39, formally announced his candidacy Monday night at Centreville Fire Station 17. On hand to support him were Republican heavy hitters, Atty. Gen. Jerry Kilgore, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-11th), O'Brien and Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-37th).
O'Brien's race is Nov. 5. If he loses, he'll keep his seat. But if he wins, there'll be a special 40th District election in December or January. And O'Brien himself is endorsing Hugo.
"I think Tim is a terrific candidate," he said. "He's energetic and is a great family man, with a wonderful wife and two children. He's a real pillar in the community and a family-values guy that I've gotten to know very well, over the last 10 years or so."
O'Brien believes Hugo will be an "outstanding delegate." Said O'Brien: "He will represent, not only the Republican Party, but also our community — very strongly, forcefully and with honor and distinction, over the many years to come."
Hugo and his wife of eight years, Paula, are parents of daughter Katie, 4, and son Christopher, 2. Born and raised in Virginia Beach, Hugo received a bachelor's in government in 1986 from the College of William and Mary. In 1998, he received a Kodak, senior-managers fellowship to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Involved in politics all his adult life, he ran for the House of Delegates in 1995 from Annandale and has been active in the Fairfax County Republican Party and in the campaigns of both Kilgore and former Virginia Atty. Gen. Mark Earley. Hugo's also no slouch professionally.
He started on Capitol Hill as a receptionist in 1987 and ended up as chief of staff to the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, from 1996-99. Along the way, he was a legislative director, but quit that job in 1990 to serve in the Army Reserves during Operation Desert Shield.
Hugo was the intelligence action officer in the first Bush administration and also spent six months as the liaison between the Pentagon and the intelligence committees on the Hill. And from 1993-95, he worked with transportation issues as legislative director for Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn of Seattle.
Then in 1999, he became the first executive director of CapNet. Based in Washington, D.C., it's a national technology association with a regional core.
"We represent companies such as Microsoft, AOL Time Warner, Hewlett Packard, Oracle, etc. — about 40-50 companies," said Hugo. "We advocate on Capitol Hill. We take congressmen and staff and show them what this area has to offer, and we lobby about issues our members are interested in."
Now, he's ready for a second try at the General Assembly. "I'd like to take my background in transportation and technology and use it to help improve the quality of life here in the region," he explained. "It's been interesting to see the nexus between [these two entities] here."
For example, he firmly believes in the value of telework. Said Hugo: "It's one of the more innovative ways to relieve traffic congestion and give people more time to spend with their families, instead of waiting in bumper-to-bumper traffic."
He'd also like to continue promoting broadband in the area, providing the opportunity for full-motion videos to come to home computers over the wire. And he wants to make sure that the political leaders are pushing these ideas forward.
Hugo says government at all levels needs to focus on the core elements of transportation, education and public safety. Not surprisingly, these are the linchpins of his political campaign.
"It's important that we fund education appropriately and demand that we get results," he said. Regarding transportation, besides telework, he wants to see more emphasis on bottlenecks and traffic signalization. Dramatic measures aren't always needed to effect improvements, said Hugo: "Sometimes, small things can impact people's lives, day to day."
And in the realm of public safety, Hugo believes in insuring that police and fire departments are also well-funded. So what's his position on the upcoming tax referendum? Definitely against.
"I think we need to hold the line," he said. "There are huge complaints about increases in property taxes, [as it is]. If your aggregate tax is going to go up, for example, $1,000, shouldn't somebody vote on it? I'd like to see if some action can be taken so that your payment can't increase by, for example, 4-5 percent a year; and if it does, make the [Board of] Supervisors vote on it. It impacts lots of people who are retired, on fixed incomes, seniors and young families, and it's not fair."
Hugo's already received $25,000 in contributions and is beginning to talk to voters, door-to-door. For more information, call 703-968-0350 or see www.timhugo.org. Said Hugo: "I'm a conservative Republican, and that matches up well with the values and beliefs of the people who live in this area."
Longtime friend Al Akers of Fairfax Station calls Hugo "a man of quality ... who can always be depended on to do the right thing. He will always stay in contact with his constituents, listening carefully to their advice and, wherever possible, following their instructions. He'll never forget the people of the district who elected him."
Rep. Tom Davis also has high praise for Hugo, noting how respected he is in public-policy matters and well-qualified for the job: "He understands politics, Capitol Hill and the business community, and he's been active in Clifton and Centreville."
With his CapNet background, said Davis, Hugo will be "a respected spokesperson for technology and transportation from day one. We're really lucky to have someone of that caliber willing to run for office. I think he's got a good shot at winning."