As far as Republican Tim Hugo is concerned, 40 is his lucky number. He's the new 40th District delegate in the Virginia House of Representatives, and on Tuesday, Jan. 7 — the day before his first legislative session — he turned 40.
This Clifton resident is approaching his freshman term in high spirits. "I think it'll be exciting to be able to help Centreville, Clifton, Fairfax Station and western Fairfax, see the things people are concerned about and, hopefully, have the opportunity to make them happen," said Hugo.
When former 40th District Del. James K. "Jay" O'Brien was elected senator from the 39th District, it left his House seat open. In a special election, Dec. 17, Hugo emerged victorious over three other candidates.
But Hugo didn't rest on his laurels. Instead, he said, "The day after the election, all the [local] delegates and senators interviewed applicants for judgeships in Fairfax County, voted and selected some to recommend to the General Assembly."
Now Hugo's in Richmond, grappling with the state budget along with his fellow legislators. "Obviously, we're going to have to start focusing on the core responsibilities of government — education, transportation, public safety and fire," he said. "We need to take care of and fund them adequately."
While dedicated to not having cuts in K-12 education, he said the tight budget will force the legislators to re-examine other programs and jettison them if they're not working. He said this should be done on an ongoing basis, for the good of the state and Fairfax County. He also called Gov. Warner's (D) consolidation of several programs in the budget "a good first step."
Hugo plans to propose a constitutional amendment to limit the growth of state government, with an indexing factor for population and inflation increases. "Colorado already did this successfully," he said. "When revenues exceed the cap, they return a check back to the voters. I think, for the time being, any revenues that come in above that cap should be used for education and transportation infrastructure — capital investments."
Hugo said that would help Fairfax County where so many students are in trailers and traffic congestion is so bad. He's already spoken to the speaker of the House about it and says the speaker favors it for education only, so they'll discuss it again.
Hugo also plans to consider a constitutional amendment preventing the Transportation Trust Fund from being raided. "At the beginning of last year, the governor took out $317 million for non-transportation purposes," Hugo said. "I think that's wrong. People paid the gas tax and thought it was going to be used for roads. This would put 'trust' back into the trust fund."
Locally, Hugo supports the Bull Run Post Office Road truck ban. "If the county decides it doesn't want trucks on a certain road, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) should only have six months to make a decision," he said. "It shouldn't be able to have a pocket veto. That could help any community within the 40th District and western Fairfax."
Before heading to Richmond, Hugo called around and talked to constituents in his area to find out what's important to them, and he plans to continue doing so during the General Assembly session. He can be reached at 804-698-1040 or via e-mail at del_Hugo@house.state.va.us.
"I'm No. 100 — literally the newest delegate there," he said. "As a new delegate, to be effective, you have to pick a few things to focus on — and I will not be voting for tax increases." He also realizes that he'll have to adapt quickly to his new role and work much harder than the more seasoned delegates to get his bills prepared.
But Hugo's looking forward to the challenge, and his previous government experience should come in handy. From 1996-99, he served as chief of staff to the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He was the intelligence action officer during the first Bush administration, and he also spent six months as the liaison between the Pentagon and the intelligence committees on the Hill.
In addition, Hugo is executive director of CapNet, a powerful technology association, which advocates and lobbies on Capitol Hill. Now, he's excited about representing the 40th District and says it's "an opportunity for me to give back to the community in public service."
Hugo is a board member of Rep. Frank Wolf's (R-10th) telework consortium and has asked to be on the House Transportation and Technology committee. "Something unique that I bring to the table is my background [in these areas]," he said. "I believe in the utility of telework; the junction between technology and transportation is something we really need to explore and exploit. The technologies are there that'll change telework. We just have to change the culture."
Another plus, said Hugo, is his experience in "reaching across the aisle" to work with both Democrats and Republicans. "I have a history of working bipartisan," he said. "Transportation and high-tech aren't particularly partisan issues. There's not a Republican road or a Democratic bridge — they're assets for Virginia."
Hugo also pledges to serve his constituents to the best of his abilities. "I want to thank everybody for the opportunity to serve, and I hope people will call or write me letters," he said. "I'm deeply honored, and I look at it as a privilege to serve the people of western Fairfax County."