Robert McDowell considers running for the Virginia House of Delegates as an extension of his involvement in the community.
"Having grown up here and already having worked in Richmond, and having been involved in the community for a long time, this is a natural extension of what I've already done," said McDowell, stating one his reasons why he's running for the 35th district.
Robert "Rob" McDowell is the Republican candidate looking to win the delegate seat representing the 35th district. The current holder of the seat, Republican Jeannemarie Devolites, is seeking to run for the state Senate.
Supporters cite McDowell's experience as the key reason they're voting for him in November.
"He's been here all his life, so he knows what the problems are," said campaign volunteer Charles Weir of Oakton.
McDowell said that because he has lived in Vienna, all his life, he understands how to represent his neighbors while in Richmond.
"I look at my two kids, and I think that I need to make Virginia a better place for them to grow up," McDowell said.
McDowell, 40, currently lives in the family home he grew up in. He and his wife, Jennifer, are raising their two children, Griffin, 4, and Mary-Shea, 2. He works as an attorney for the telecommunications association CompTel. He had also served as chief legislative aide to Del. Bob Andrews in 1986 and 1987.
Past community involvement include appointments to the state Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug Free Virginia in 1994 and to the Board of Contractors in 1996, and terms serving on the Hunter Mill Plan Review Task Force and on the board of directors for the McLean Project for the Arts.
As McDowell looked at the three issues of taxes, education and transportation, he suggested some solutions for alleviating the burdens of northern Virginians. For taxes, McDowell signed the "No New Taxes Pledge" earlier this spring, which includes advocating for a limit on property tax increases to no more than five percent per year without a referendum, according to McDowell's campaign literature.
"Northern Virginians do not feel undertaxed. In fact, when it comes to real property taxes, people are up in arms," McDowell said. "The focus of any tax restructuring needs to be revenue neutral, and focus on tax relief for homeowners who pay taxes, especially senior citizens. ... I would prefer to see us move toward a consumption tax," McDowell said.
As for education, McDowell said he supported protecting high standards and school accountability; funding school expansion and renovations with portions of the state budget surplus; and ensuring that the $200 million that Virginia will receive from the federal No Child Left Behind Act would be used to benefit directly students and not bureaucracies.
When it comes to transportation and traffic issues, McDowell said he would make it harder to borrow against the transportation trust fund; use a portion of surplus for capital expenditures such as road construction; support rail to Dulles and in the interim, consider bus rapid transit and HOT lanes; and advocate for more public-private partnerships in Northern Virginia, such as the Dulles Greenway.
"I think that what Rob brings to the table is that he was born and raised in Vienna," said Del. Jeannemarie Devolites (R). "I think he is extremely well-connected to the community. ... Rob has had legislative experience in the past, so I know that he would go to Richmond knowing how the process works."
Weir agreed. "He'll hold the line on taxes. ... He knows how things work."
As McDowell continues his campaign through the fall, he hopes his experience will give him an edge.
"I've grown up here. I've been working for this community for a long time," McDowell said.