With special guest Kenneth W. Starr at his kick-off campaign at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, lifelong Vienna resident Robert McDowell announced Saturday his intentions to run for the 35th district of the Virginia House of Delegates.
"I think we've seen a large increase of government spending at all levels. People are questioning whether government has lost its sense of priority," said McDowell, a Republican, in an interview before Saturday's kick-off campaign.
McDowell said his three biggest priorities are controlling growth in government, government spending and increased taxation. He supports a cap on state spending, the repeal of the estate tax and spending cuts in capital expenditures.
"It's a crucial turning point for Virginia right now...we can have an efficient government that stays...on core priorities" of education and public safety, McDowell said.
As vice president and assistant general counsel for the Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel), McDowell represents member companies before Congress, the White House, the Federal Communications Commission, state regulatory commissions and appellate courts.
His legislative experience includes working as a legislative assistant to Del. Bob Andrews. He graduated cum laude from Duke University in 1985 and from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in 1990.
Community activities include serving on the Board of the McLean Project for the Arts and attending Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Vienna. He had also served as vice chair of the Hunter Mill District Plan Review Task Force.
Family friend Del. Vince Callahan (R-34th) had endorsed McDowell and called him well-rounded.
"He brings a fresh approach," Callahan said.
His opponent in the Republican primary, Vienna town councilman Mike Polychrones, said he's known McDowell for years.
"It's a free country. Rob certainly has the right to run if he wants," Polychrones said.
When asked what edge he might have over McDowell, Polychrones replied that he had more experience serving community needs. Polychrones has been on the Vienna Town Council since 1996, and is not seeking re-election to the council this May.
"I've actually been serving the Vienna community" for several years, Polychrones said.
McDowell, who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate seat held by Janet Howell (D-32nd) in 1995, said the decision to run is fueled by his role as a new parent. He and his wife, Jennifer, are raising their two children aged 3 and 17 months.
"Having children opens your eyes to what's important for the community and planning for the future," McDowell said.
In addition to working for Del. Andrews, McDowell was also appointed to the Governor's Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug-Free Virginia. He currently serves on the Virginia Board of Contractors. Prior political experience also include working on the Bush-Cheney, Tom Davis and Bob Dole campaigns.
"I think all the perspective and experience I've learned...will be valuable for serving people in the 35th district," McDowell said.