This November, the entire Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia Senate are up for election. If the campaign season in Alexandria has seemed nonexistent, it’s because most of the incumbents and even one newcomer are running unopposed.
Brian Moran is the incumbent Democrat in the 46th House District. He has no opponent.
Adam Ebbin is the newcomer to politics. He is running unopposed in the 49th District.
“He [Moran] has no opponent because he has done a good job representing the District and because the Republican Party in Alexandria and in Arlington County is disorganized,” said Rod Kuckro, host of Comcast’s Alexandria Forum.
Moran was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1995, by 64 percent of the vote. As a freshman delegate, he got more legislation passed than any other newcomer. Eight years later, he has risen to be the chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
“Because of my leadership position, I will work hard to promote the governor’s initiatives,” Moran said. “I am particularly interested in his financial initiatives such as tax reform. While I don’t think people will see as much reform as they would like, there will certainly be some changes.”
One of those changes, which was promoted unsuccessfully last year, is an increase in the cigarette tax.
“Last year, that wasn’t going to go anywhere,” Moran said. “This year, however, because it is election season, some Republicans are making noise about increasing the cigarette tax. We have to make sure that the state increase won’t affect a locality’s ability to increase it even further. For example, if the state raises the tax to 20 cents and the cigarette tax in Alexandria is already 50 cents, we would want to leave Alexandria’s tax alone. We can’t take away local revenue by increasing the state’s tax.”
Moran also anticipates an increase in the gas tax.
“Many people feel that our gas tax is too low,” Moran said. “I think that could change this year.”
MORAN WILL ALSO support the governor’s new initiatives in education. “Senior Year Plus is a very exciting new initiative,” he said. “This will allow high-school seniors to obtain college credit in a variety of ways that is not now available to them.”
Moran will once again introduce legislation that has been important to him for some time. “I’m going to raise the issue of a redistricting commission once again,” he said. “I don’t think it will go anywhere necessarily, but I want to keep it out there.” The redistricting commission would allow a bipartisan commission to perform the decennial (every 10 years) redistricting duties and not leave that responsibility to a partisan legislature.
“I have some crime commission legislation and studies and those are important, but for the most part, I will be working with the governor and trying to ensure that we maintain fiscal responsibility,” Moran said.
How has Moran gotten his message out to voters?
“I have represented the district for eight years, and I have a sense of the community,” he said. “Also, constituents contact me all of the time, and I am out talking with people. Instead of campaigning, I can concentrate on constituent services,” he said.
In 2001, the Republican-controlled legislature created the majority/minorities 49th District, which contains two precincts in Alexandria, several in Arlington and a few in Fairfax County, essentially snaking up Columbia Pike.
In 2001, Republicans nominated a Hispanic candidate to run against veteran legislator Karen Darner. Darner has decided not to seek re-election, and although there was a hotly contested Democratic primary, there is no Republican challenger to newcomer Adam Ebbin.
Ebbin lives in Alexandria and has only been elected to one office before now — to be an officer on his condominium association board of directors. Prior to running for office, he served as the chief deputy commissioner of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, a position to which he was appointed by Gov. Mark Warner. Before that, he was a marketing executive, most recently working for an association.
“I believe that our tax code needs to be rewritten,” Ebbin said. “I am particularly concerned about eliminating the amount of property tax relief that a locality can give to elderly persons or persons with disabilities. I hope to work with my colleagues to change this.”
He would also like to see the tax on groceries eliminated. “This regressive tax punishes the people who can least afford it,” Ebbin said.
HE HAS HEARD from Arlington County residents about the need to be able to place signs along, and beautify, Columbia Pike, without permission from the state. “Columbia Pike is a state road,” he said. “Every time Arlington County wants to place a sign on a pole that the county owns or plant a tree, they have to get permission from Richmond. This doesn’t make any sense.”
Education has long been an issue of concern to Ebbin. “I strongly support the governor’s education initiatives, particularly in the area of preschool education,” he said. “I believe that every child deserves an equal opportunity to a quality preschool program, without regard to a family’s financial status.”
Without an opponent, how has Ebbin gotten to know his constituents?
“I believe that voters deserve a dialogue, so it is unfortunate that I do not have an opponent,” he said. “That having been said, it does give me an opportunity to get out to civic associations and talk with people who live in the District. I am also doing some door-to-door in precincts that I did not get to visit during the primary.”
Ebbin’s lack of an opponent surprised many. “I really thought the Republicans would have a candidate for the 49th,” said former Alexandria mayor Kerry Donley. “However, I guess they have decided to put their money into races that are perceived to be more win-able. The 49th is a heavily Democratic district, so it would have been an uphill battle for any Republican.”
Rod Kuckro agreed. “The Republicans have not done a very good job cultivating candidates,” he said.