Thomas Rust's desire to serve his hometown eventually led to a second career as an elected official, having spent 25 years on the Herndon Town Council, including 20 as the mayor, and two years as a state delegate.
"I enjoy public service. I like helping people," Rust said. "I was originally asked to do it [run for office]. I got involved through my neighbors and friends. I love to do community service."
Rust, a Republican, intends to continue helping people by retaining his 86th District House seat this November against Democratic challenger Jim Kelly.
The district consists of the Floris 203/Frying Pan 235, Herndon No. 1, Herndon No. 2, Herndon No. 3, Hutchison, Stuart and Franklin precincts in Fairfax County and the Guilford, Sully, Park View and Rolling Ridge precincts and parts of the Cascades and Forest Ridge precincts in Loudoun County.
THE TOP THREE issues facing the district, he said, are education, transportation and real-estate assessments.
"I'm a co-patron of the higher education bond. I'm a co-patron of legislation to bring money back to Northern Virginia in transportation funds," Rust said. "The tax issue needs to be a major component of the tax structure reform. Taxing authority needs to be authorized for the counties as it is for towns and cities."
Rust said, last year, Virginia was one of three jurisdictions that actually raised funding for education, by an increase of $93 million. He intends to support Gov. Mark Warner's (D) proposed increase for this year.
He said the Northern Virginia delegation did submit legislation that would have changed the education funding formula to allow for more money to be earmarked for Northern Virginia schools, but the measure failed.
"All funds flow through the Local Composite Index and it is biased against 'wealthy' counties," Rust said. "I tried to put language into the budget that had a density component included. The entire Northern Virginia contingent voted for it. I will put it in again next year and will tinker with it and pick up other poorer areas."
THE HERNDON RESIDENT said he expects a budget shortfall of $1.1 billion this session. Even so, tax reform is high on his priority list. The veteran politician, however, does not anticipate any action by the legislature being taken this session on reform.
"It's not apt to happen in 2004. Other than the governor's office and the committee that's working on it, nobody else knows what's going on," Rust said. "I think there will be two major issues this session: the budget and tax reform and we have to have a budget."
Even if tax reform does not happen this session, Rust has ideas on how it could be accomplished. First he said the elected officials have to fulfill the promised they have already made such as eliminating the car tax, taking the sales tax off of food and removing the so-called death tax. All of which he said reduces the tax load on the citizens.
He believes the entire tax structure needs to be scrutinized including a comprehensive sales tax breakdown. He favors an Internet sales tax and a review of the $3.6 billion worth of tax exceptions on the books.
"We haven't looked at the tax code in 80 years. It's based on an agrarian economy that's gone now," Rust said. "We have a service economy now."
THE DELEGATE said the area has buses running throughout the Dulles corridor now, but it is rail that will make a difference in the traffic problems facing the area.
"The ultimate answer is rail," Rust said. "If rail goes away, however, we need to look at HOT lanes [additional lanes in the median reserved for carpools, buses and single drivers who would be willing to pay a toll] in the corridor. I think a combination of buses and HOT lanes is a fall back. But rail is the most feasible."