Marching down to Richmond, supporting a tax-reform effort that changes the amount Northern Virginia gets back from every dollar is a part of Mark Sickles’ campaign, as he challenges Del. Tom Bolvin (R) in the 43rd District.
"The transportation formula discriminates against people with heavy volume," such as the citizens in this part of the state, Sickles said.
The top two issues — transportation and education — are going to need more money and innovative solutions. These are areas that Sickles is concentrating on this time around. One area is a local authority to implement taxes in other areas besides real estate. The federal mandate implemented by the Bush administration called "No Child Left Behind" is one area that affects school funding.
"We're going to have to adjust our funding," Sickles said. "I believe in local control of the school system."
In 2001, Sickles challenged Bolvin and lost. This time around, he has high hopes. The Sickles campaign will be focused on some of the same issues this time but approached in a different way.
"We're going to try to keep this from becoming a bumper sticker campaign," he said.
The 43rd District includes the Pioneer, Belvoir, Beulah, Kingstowne, Villages, Hayfield, Virginia Hills, Rose Hill, Huntley, Franconia, Van Dorn, Bush Hill, Clermont, Pohick Run, Pohick Church and Wilton precincts. Geographically, it runs from I-95 south of Springfield Mall to Clermont, just west of Old Town, Alexandria.
Opening a campaign headquarters in the centrally located Rose Hill Shopping center is one aspect of Sickles' current campaign that will be different. Sickles shares the space with fellow Democrats Brad Center, who is running for School Board; Greg Galligan, who is challenging Sen. Jay O'Brien (R) in the 39th Virginia Senate District; and Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee). Grand opening for the campaign headquarters was Monday, Aug. 18. Since Kauffman has no challenger in the upcoming election, his presence at the headquarters will be sporadic. According to Sickles, all the Democrats in the office are being supported by the business community, which is a sign the party is committed to economic growth.
On Monday, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce released a list of candidates at the state and county level that it endorsed in the November election. Bolvin and O'Brien were among the 21 candidates that the Chamber endorsed. The Chamber did not endorse Sickles or Galligan.
SICKLES' SISTER, Debbie Brackett, attended the headquarters' opening night. They grew up in Fairfax County, and she fondly remembers him running for a school office years ago, using a slogan comparing Sickles to nickels.
"He's really into the issues," she said.
Brad Center looked at Sickles’ level of energy.
"Mark is not about to say the status quo is fine, he'll do something," Center said. "He's always in motion and doesn't seem scared about taking a look at a new idea."
Supervisor Gerry Connolly (D-Providence), who is running against School Board member Mychele B. Brickner (R) for the Board chairman's seat, was also at the headquarters' opening.
"He's going to be a great chairman," Sickles said of Connolly.
Sickles used to work in an Alexandria-based dredging company but is now starting his own public affairs business. The boards that he has served on include the Fairfax County Public Library, United Community Ministries, Springfield Cultural Center, Franconia Community Coalition and the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. He worked with Gladys Keating, the 43rd District delegate for over 20 years, and is a member of the Lee District Democratic Committee.
Sickles said that he was motivated by other candidates who ran more than once before winning an election. That included Bolvin's three attempts before he was elected.
"I'm going to win it in two," Sickles said, "set a new world record."