After 20 years bouncing around the country with the U.S. Navy, Howie Lind has come home. The 1975 Langley High School grad returned to Northern Virginia last year with a job at Booz Allen Hamilton, a house in Falls Church and political aspirations.
Lind, a Republican, is one of three candidates in the running for the Virginia Senate from the 32nd District, which covers Reston, McLean, Great Falls, parts of Herndon and Falls Church.
He said frustration with Democratic incumbent Sen. Janet Howell’s position on taxation prompted his decision.
“She votes for every tax increase,” he said. “She’s the one leading this effort now with the cigarette tax and I’m very much opposed to that,” he said.
BUT BEFORE he faces Howell, Lind must first square off with David Hunt of Great Falls, another Republican candidate vying for the party’s nomination. Lind said Hunt’s position on the issues was unclear but noted that both Hunt and Howell joined the vast majority of local officials in endorsing the sales tax referendum last year.
“I was one of the leaders that opposed the sales tax referendum,” he said.
Taxation, he said, is “a matter of how each of us views government.”
How much money should government raise? And on what programs should it spend it?
“The majority, I think are very leery about increased taxes for all these different things,” he said.
Instead of raising taxes, Lind said local officials should look at ways of reducing spending or making it more efficient. For instance, rather than spend money to improve the roads, Lind would let drivers use the shoulders as lanes during rush hour; put in place a high-occupancy lottery, where commuters could bid to rise in the HOV lanes without submitting to the HOV restrictions; or coordinate the traffic signals to a greater extent so that traffic could keep flowing.
“There’s a lot of ideas that wouldn’t take a lot of money,” he said.
Besides transportation, Lind’s anti-tax program calls for capping real estate tax increases at 5 percent, repealing the so-called “death tax” and tying spending to inflation and population growth. His opposition to taxes has earned him the endorsement of the Virginia Club for Growth. Peter Ferrara, the club’s president, introduced Lind when he officially kicked off his campaign at the Tysons Corner Marriott a couple weeks ago.
Lind also described himself as an advocate for hi-tech companies in Northern Virginia. He worked in the technology field while in the Navy and has served on a couple technology boards.
“I have an idea of how technology can drive the workforce and I think with my experience I’d be able to serve in Richmond in the capacity of making good proposals.”
But taxation is the issue he returns to again and again, calling it “the primary area that I’m concerned with.” And it is people’s frustration with taxes that makes the incumbent Janet Howell vulnerable, even though she remains, he said, “a formidable candidate.”
The newly redrawn 32nd district picked up a few Republican areas which may give him an edge if he reaches the general election, he said.
HOWELL DISAGREED, saying that her District may be less Republican because it picked up more of Reston. She also noted that in the last two elections she received 58 percent of the vote.
“I take every challenger seriously and maybe that’s why I won,” she said.
Hunt, Lind’s Republican contender, said he has received a lot of support since his campaign started last March.
“I’m very confident because I’ve knocked on a lot of doors, earned a lot of support,” he said. “I was also able to get a big part of the volunteer community which has known me for years” because of his roles as precinct captain and as an aide to Va. Del. Vince Callahan (R-34th) of McLean.
About Lind, he said, “I don’t know why he’s running.” He added that he knew very little about Lind except that he is new to the area.
Sometime this year, Eddie Page, the Republican Party Chairman, will choose a legislative district chair who will decide how the primary between Hunt and Lind will be conducted. The party will either hold a convention, an open primary, or a firehouse primary in which any registered voter can go make their choice at a given location on a given day.