This November, Virginians will elect their members of the House of Delegates and the state Senate. First, though, there are several primaries.
On June 10, Arlington will go to the polls to nominate the Democratic candidate who will run for delegate in the 49th District. Karen Darner, who served for 10 years, is not running, leaving the field wide open for newcomers. As no Republican has announced, and because the district, made up of a majority of minority voters, is heavily Democratic, the winner of the primary will likely be the district’s next delegate.
The five Democratic candidates spoke to members of Alexandria’s Potomac West Business Association on Monday, the only time that all of them are scheduled to be in the same place at the same time to speak.
ADAM EBBIN lives in the Auburn Village development in Alexandria. His campaign theme is “Common Ground. Common Sense.”
Ebbin, a Democratic Party activist, served as campaign manager for both Paul Smedberg, who was elected to the Alexandria City Council this year, and for Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette in 1993. From 2002 until 2003, he served as the chief deputy commissioner with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. He also attended the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia in 2000.
“I believe in quality public education, responsible tax reform, urban revitalization, civil rights and civil liberties and equal opportunity,” Ebbin said. “There are five very talented candidates and each of us is different. I have worked with Governor Warner and have some experience with state government. I believe that this experience could help the people of the 49th district.
MICHAEL GRAHAM has lived in Arlington for the 18 years, the past 15 years in the Columbia West neighborhood. He is a member of the Arlington County Planning Commission, a former president of the Columbia Heights West Civic Association, a board member of the Arlington Housing Corporation, a former member of the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission and a former member of the Neighborhood Partnership Fund Grants Committee. He has also been active in the Arlington Democratic Committee for many years.
“There are four striking issues,” Graham said. “We must eliminate the sales tax at the grocery store. Whether you walk in with $10 or $10,000, you must pay the 4 percent tax. We must create more affordable opportunities for first-time home buyer… Also, there is the Dillon Rule. Localities should not have to get permission to restrict guns from public facilities. Localities should not have to get permission to raise necessary revenues.”
One of the things that sets Graham apart from the other candidates is “I am the only candidate who has ever been elected to serve his community,” he said, referring to his time on the county’s planning commission.
TERESA MARTINEZ is the only woman running for delegate from the 49th District. She has served as an advocate and an activist in the district for some time. “One of the most important issues in the 49th District is inclusive economic development,” she said. “This is a new American district. What I have heard from everyone is that they don’t have a lot of money but ‘we want economic development.’
“Many people in this district feel that they do not have a seat at the table. We must have better communication. Sometimes, people are excluded because they don’t understand. I don’t know if you knew this, but the Salvadoran Chamber of Commerce is right here on Mt. Vernon Avenue. We must reach out to all of these groups and be inclusive,” she said.
NATHAN MONELL also lives in Arlington. For the past 25 years, he has served as a nonprofit executive, tackling issues as diverse as unemployment, mental illness, human rights, public health policy and the arts. He is currently the executive director of Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry and has served on a variety of committees in the nonprofit community in Alexandria. He is one of the nonprofit leaders who fought for reforms within United Way during their most recent problems.
Monell wants “more and less from Richmond.” He wants more investment in the education of children, regardless of their economic status, geographic location or the national origin of their parents; more fiscal responsibility and substantive change to Virginia’s regressive tax structure; and more effective services for seniors.
“What this district needs is someone who can reach out to conservatives and liberals and bring every part of the diverse community together,” Monell said. “The largest part of a nonprofit executive’s job is bringing people together to solve problems. I have shown that I can do this.”
ANDRES TOBAR lives in Arlington. He is a first generation American of Mexican heritage. The son of farm workers, he was the first in his family to graduate from college. He spent 20 years in the U.S. Department of Education, working in programs that originated in the federal government’s War on Poverty. Tobar has been endorsed by both Darner and Delegate Marian Van Landingham.
“I have a strong commitment to education and understand that it is a key to a better life,” Tobar said. “As delegate, I will fight for repeal of the sales tax on food; funding and resources for our public colleges and universities; improved services for the mentally ill and their families; affordable housing; increased transit options and smart growth; preserving a woman’s right to choose; good pay and benefits for public employees, including teachers; and for a quality K-12 education for all students.”