Steve Shannon, State Delegate, District 35

Steve Shannon, State Delegate, District 35

Office sought:  Delegate, District 35

Party Affiliation:  Democrat

Previous offices held; please include dates: First-time candidate for

elective office

Incumbents: when elected to this position:

Occupation: Attorney at Law

Current employment (include name and address of employers):

Full time candidate

Previous employment: Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County

(left position earlier this year to run for office)

Education: (please list schools attended, degrees and dates): University of

Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1999; Georgetown University, Master’s Degree

in Public Policy, 1996; Fairfield University, B.A., 1993

Community ties: Vice Chairman, Fairfax County Consumer Protection

Commission; Former Advisor, Fairfax County Alcohol Safety Action Program

Policy Board

List a few current endorsements you are most proud of: Fairfax Education

Association, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Washington Board of

Trade, Virginia AFL-CIO, Fairfax Coalition of Police, Fairfax County Deputy

Sheriff’s Coalition, Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and

Paramedics, Metropolitan Washington Fleet Officers Association, Renew

Virginia Schools, Million Moms, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors,

League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Disability

Action Committee

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

I have successfully prosecuted drug dealers, child molesters and other

violent criminals in Vienna, Oakton and the rest of Fairfax County.  My wife and I

co-founded our region's AMBER Alert system to help law enforcement rescue

abducted children.

2. Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term. Why

shouldn’t voters blame you for current problems in your district?


3. What are the top five problems facing your constituents and what

approaches will you use to solve them? Describe one challenge (or more) in

your district that is different than in other parts of the state.

Traffic congestion is the biggest problem affecting our quality of life.  I believe we need extended mass transit now.  I support Bus Rapid Transit throughout the commercial areas of the County, and I support the plan to extend Metro to Tyson’s and on to Dulles.

Rising property taxes are also a major concern.  We need to hold the line on property taxes.  My action plan focuses on diversifying the County’s revenue base to offset revenue that would have been generated through property taxes.  I oppose the irresponsible tax caps advocated by my opponent.  They do not allow for diversification, and they will not stop the sharp rise in property taxes.

Public education at the K-12 and higher education levels will be a major focus of the next legislative session.  I support Governor Warner’s education agenda.  I will fight to receive our fair share of state funding for education so that we can reduce class sizes, recruit and retain quality teachers, and expedite school construction efforts.

Public safety  is an area that requires ongoing attention by our community. As a Fairfax County prosecutor, I know where the criminal loopholes exist under Virginia law and how these loopholes allow violent offenders to go free.  I will close these loopholes, and also fight to make sure that our first responders have appropriate resources to serve our community.

Smart growth is an issue of unique importance to our region of Virginia and

must be discussed in the context of transportation policy.  I support high density commercial and residential growth around new mass transit stations so that people can walk to work.  I will make sure my constituents are heard before and while local officials decide land-use planning decisions.  I will work to protect open spaces and prevent sprawl.

4. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this


I am an experienced attorney and criminal prosecutor.  I am also well-trained in public policy analysis, public finance and economics – tools that will be useful as the legislature debates tax restructuring.  I have earned a reputation as a hardworking and highly ethical public servant of our community.  I have the temperament needed to work across party lines and build coalitions.

5. How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponent(s)?

I have devoted my career to prosecuting criminals in Vienna, Oakton and the rest of Fairfax County.  My opponent is a Washington lobbyist.

My tax plan will hold the line on property taxes and will allow the County to generate more revenue from the cigarette tax and the hotel tax so homeowners will not have to bear so much of the burden. My opponent supports an irresponsible tax plan that will not stop rising property taxes, but will jeopardize funding for public schools, law enforcement and other vital services.

My opponent supports laws to restrict a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion.  I will protect a woman’s right to choose.

6. What is one thing you promise not to do if elected?

I will never lie to my constituents, and I will never allow campaign contributions to dictate how I vote.

7. What do you predict for the one-to-two year future of the budget and what

adjustments will you propose to prepare for your prediction? What impact is

this likely to have on your constituents?

I plan to work with Governor Warner on fundamental tax reform that allows counties more revenue options so they can lower property taxes.  My focus will be on providing real property tax relief to homeowners.  I will work to protect funding for education, transportation and law enforcement.

8. What specific solutions will you propose for the transportation dilemma?

Please address funding, prioritization, air quality, bus service and other non-rail public transportation solutions, expansion of rail service, and any other possible approach.

I support short-term and long-term mass transit solutions to meet our regional transportation needs.  I support instituting Bus Rapid Transit (“BRT”) through the business corridors of Fairfax County.  I support the plan to extend Metro to Tyson’s and on to Dulles.  Half of the proposed project would be funded by the federal government while the remaining portion would be split between the state and local governments.  I will work with regional leaders and fight to ensure we receive the state funding needed to make this plan a reality.

9. Do local governments have the tools they need to control and guide

growth? How will state and local governments cope with the additional demand

for services that comes with additional residential construction? Can more

emphasis on smart growth help offset some of the effects of suburban


The County is far behind when it comes to smart growth development, and many of our transportation issues are linked to poor historical planning.  With new mass transit projects, we need to have the right mix of high-density residential and commercial development around the sites.  We need to adhere to the County’s comprehensive plan and include local residents in the decision-making process. We should not return to the days of uncontrolled growth, but we should welcome businesses that create good jobs and help our economy.

10. What are your top environmental priorities? Please address air quality,

water quality, open space, etc.

Expanding public transportation and reducing traffic congestion require immediate attention in order to reduce air pollution.  In addition, I will support tough standards to ensure we have safe drinking water.  Finally, I will work to ensure that the Commonwealth preserves parks and open spaces.

11. Are residents safe enough? How do public safety officials balance new

demands of "homeland security" with other safety and quality-of-life issues?

I support changes in the law to make it easier to prosecute drunk driving cases and put habitual drunk drivers behind bars.  I also think that we need to enable juries to impose tougher sentences on sex offenders, who too often receive reduced sentences.  Our federal, state and local leaders must work together on emergency preparedness -- especially in the Washington metropolitan area. We need to fight for federal funds to help equip and train our first responders who will have to go into action if anything happens in the Washington area.

12. Do you have any concerns about civil liberties and public access to

information in the wake of the Patriot Act and other responses to Sept. 11?

National and community safety should be our first priority, but we need to safeguard the civil rights of all Americans. Individually, we should all be willing to put up with a greater inconvenience for the sake of our community’s safety, but officials must make sure that all citizens are treated equally, regardless of race or ethnicity.

13. Working poor families in Northern Virginia face a daunting cost of

living, with little in the way of affordable housing, health care, child

care and transportation. Are low-wage workers important to the local

economy? What do you propose to address the needs of these families?

All our citizens are important -- regardless of economic status or educational attainment.   By promoting a strong economy and a good quality of life, I will help create economic and training opportunities for low-skilled workers.  By supporting state funding for community colleges, we will make education and training attainable for low-income residents.

14. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

I support giving counties the authority to raise more revenue from the cigarette and hotel taxes.

15. What is the appropriate state and local tax rate for cigarettes?

Currently, we have the lowest cigarette taxes in the nation.  This is not appropriate given the state budget shortfall and the rising property taxes in Fairfax County.  Cigarette taxes should be raised as part of comprehensive tax reform.  Revenue needs will determine what cigarette tax rate is appropriate.

16. What is the appropriate state and local tax rate for gasoline?

This question can only be answered in the context of comprehensive tax reform.  Since this is a regressive tax on one of life's necessities, I am reluctant to raise it.

17. How would you restructure the tax code in Virginia?

Comprehensive tax reform must meet our revenue needs for public schools, transportation, public safety and other vital services.  We must also give county

governments the ability to lower property taxes by allowing them to raise additional revenue from the cigarette tax and the hotel tax.  We must base revenue projections on realistic estimates of future economic growth, not optimistic projections that will only lead to future budget shortfalls.  We also need to evaluate and control government spending by employing well-regarded techniques such as performance-based budgeting.

18. Should income taxes be collected and distributed locally?

I am opposed to a new local income tax.

19. What proposals do you have for mitigating the effects of soaring

property values and related taxes? Do you endorse the 5 percent cap on

property tax increases? If you support a cap on property tax increases,

please name at least one service provided by state or local government that

you currently use that you would be prepared to live without.

I oppose the irresponsible tax cap proposed by my opponent.  It is a campaign

gimmick that will not lower property taxes and will jeopardize funding for education, transportation, public safety and other vital services.

20. After redistricting, Northern Virginia now has a critical mass in the

General Assembly, but so far that doesn’t appear to have translated into

additional political clout for the region. Why? What will you do to increase

the influence of Northern Virginia in Richmond?

I will work with both Democrats and Republicans to see that Northern Virginia receives its fair share of the tax dollars we send to Richmond. The Governor is obviously a strong advocate for our region, and I will work with his administration to deliver for Northern Virginia.

21. Would you favor the repeal of the Dillon Rule? Why or Why not?

No. The state legislature has an important role to play by controlling taxes on Virginia citizens.

22. What is right and wrong with Virginia’s current laws governing abortion?

Would you support any changes?

I do not support any new government interference with a woman's right to choose.

23. Would you support allowing localities to ban weapons from public



24. The state provides only a fraction of the funding for local schools that

it should given requirements under the "Standards of Quality." How would you

address this?

The Governor has a comprehensive education initiative, which includes fully funding the “Standards of Quality.”  I will work with the Governor to make his education initiative a reality, as will the local teacher groups endorsing my candidacy.

25. How would you rate the Standards of Learning tests and what improvements

still need to be made?

I support high standards and testing, but we must also ensure that our teachers and schools have the resources needed to help students who are not meeting performance standards.

26. Should local school boards be allowed to ban all weapons on school



27. Characterize the financial situation in Virginia institutions of higher

learning and what efforts you recommend in the General Assembly to shore up

the quality of Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

We have one of the best systems of community colleges, state colleges and universities in the nation.  However, there is cause for concern.  The Commonwealth has shown a recent unwillingness to make adequate investments in our higher education system.  This will have a ripple effect throughout our business sectors, limit our ability to attract the top professors and prospective students, and hinder our financial aid efforts.   This must become a top legislative priority.