0
Votes

Tom Rust, State Delegate, District 86

Office sought: Delegate - District 86

Party Affiliation: Republican

Previous offices held; please include dates: Herndon Town Council 1971-1976; Herndon Mayor 1976-1984, 1990-2002

Incumbents: when elected to this position: November, 2001

Occupation: Civil Engineer

Current employment (include name and address of employers): Patton Harris Rust & Associates - 14532 Lee Road, Chantilly, VA 20151-1679

Previous employment County of Fairfax

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

Virginia Tech - BS in Civil Engineering - 1965

George Washington University-MS in Public Works Engineering-1978

University of Virginia - MP in Urban/Environmental Planning - 1989

Community ties: I have lived in Herndon all my adult life and am a graduate of Herndon High School. I have served and led many community and professional organizations such as the Transportation Coordinating Council and the Fairfax-Falls Church United Way. I have served my community as its Mayor and Delegate. I am a member of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church.

List a few current endorsements you are most proud of: Fairfax Education Association, Loudoun Education Association, RENEW Virginia Schools, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Fairfax County BizPAC

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

Bringing more accountability to the local budget process, revitalizing downtown Herndon and construction of the Herndon recreation complex including the golf course and community center.

2. Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term. Why shouldn't voters blame you for current problems in your district?

My top accomplishments were leading the fight to reopen the Sterling and Fair Oaks DMVs, raising the level of dialogue on Northern Virginia's needs in the areas of transportation and education funding, and helping to bring more accountability and understanding to the budget process.

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.

Transportation - I will continue my efforts to revise the funding formula so that Northern Virginia gets a fairer share of transportation dollars.

Education - The revision of the local composite index (LCI) and the full funding of the state share of education are my top priorities. The LCI needs to be reformulated so that Northern Virginia localities get a fairer share of state funds.

Public Safety - Many of my constituents are concerned about gangs. I have been appointed to Attorney General Jerry Kilgore's Gang Task Force which will propose several legislative initiatives for the 2004 session of the General Assembly.

Social Services - We need to take necessary steps to fully fund the developmental disability waiver program, which provides incentives for those families who decide to provide care for their developmentally disabled family members.

Science and Technology - We must continue to work to keep Virginia competitive in the field of technology. My Internet II study was the first step in doing that. Virginia needs to look to the future - California is already studying how to make gigabit speed a reality and we need to stay competitive.

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

I have extensive experience as an elected official. I have had leadership positions in higher education and in several community and civic groups. I am forthright with my constituents and have the ability to make tough decisions on important issues affecting us as Virginians.

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

I have been consistent in the goals I have tried to achieve and have gained a reputation as a legislator who studies and understands the issues prior to making a decision. I also have a lifetime commitment to serving this community.

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

I will never forget that I serve the people of the 86th district and the state. I will continue to reach out to all citizens through my constituent service office, town meetings, newsletters, and attendance at community events.

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?

The state's current financial forecasts show a $1 billion deficit for the next budget, which the Governor will propose in December. The General Assembly has already made the "easy cuts" - cutting $6 billion in the past two years and eliminating 4900 state jobs. I believe we need to move forward with overall tax reform, with one goal of better insulating Virginia's revenue from economic recessions. We need to continue to make education funding a top priority and we need to reduce local governments' reliance on the real estate tax to reduce the burden on homeowners.

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 fully support the Northern Virginia 2020 Transportation Plan, which I helped to design as a member of the Transportation Coordinating Council. That plan provides detailed transportation priorities to alleviate Northern Virginia's traffic crisis. I will continue my work to add a congestion factor to the transportation funding formula, which is desperately needed to provide additional funds for Northern Virginia.

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 development?

Local governments can develop comprehensive plans to guide and control development. They can use their plans to reduce sprawl by applying them in conjunction with "smart growth" techniques - focusing development in areas where transportation and other facilities already exist or are planned. Local governments also have authority to veto applications for rezonings, special exceptions, and special permits that do not fit with their comprehensive plans.

10. What are your top environmental priorities? Please address air quality, water quality, open space, etc.

Open space is primarily an issue that is dealt with at the local level through zoning decisions and acquisition of land for local parks. However, we need to continue making our state parks a priority. In 2002, voters passed a bond question proposed by the General Assembly with my support that included money for purchase of new parkland and improvement of existing state park facilities. There is no single answer to the dilemma of air quality. By encouraging telecommuting, mass transit, and the easing of congested "hot spots" on roads throughout Northern Virginia, we can make significant progress. We also need a regional study of expanded use of HOT Lanes, HOV Lanes, and better signal synchronization. We should continue working with our congressional delegation so that our region is not penalized for pollution that travels to our region from industrial areas in the Midwest. This pollution is a significant contribution to our problem in Northern Virginia.

11. Are residents safe enough? How do public safety officials balance new demands of "homeland security" with other safety and quality-of-life issues?

Based on my conversations with several constituents, their biggest concern is the growth of street gangs and the resulting impact on public safety and their sense of security. To help combat these problems, I have joined Attorney General Jerry Kilgore's task force to combat gang violence and will remain committed to this important issue.

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?

Like most, I believe there will be some modifications to the Patriot Act to both enhance homeland security and to preserve the rights accorded to us under the United States Constitution. However, that debate will occur at the federal level.

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 workers are important to our economy. Affordable housing is a difficult issue for many working families, especially considering the dramatic increases in home values. I will continue to support such programs as the Virginia Housing Development Authority, whose mission is to increase home ownership among working families. We need to continue revising bus routes so that workers without cars can get to their jobs and homes in a reasonable amount of time. In the area of health care, we need to continue funding FAMIS, a Virginia program which provides affordable health insurance to low-income families.

14. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

Yes. I supported Delegate Bob Hull's legislation to remedy this situation last session. The bill was defeated in Committee.

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

Virginia has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, and that needs to change. Virginia consumers pay more tax on a loaf of bread than Virginia smokers pay on a pack of cigarettes, and that is extremely unfair. I am supportive of efforts to raise the cigarette tax with the proceeds going to help eliminate the funding gap in K-12 education.

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

Like all other taxes, the gas tax will be reviewed in the overall context of tax reform. However, I think it is fair to say that most working families are feeling the strain of high gas prices, which have recently increased at an alarming rate.

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

The tax code must be fair, equitable and balanced. We need a reduction of the burden on homeowners, a modernization of the income tax, elimination of the death tax, a comprehensive reform of the sales tax, and a more equitable distribution of taxing authority and duties between local and state governments. Ultimate revenue neutrality should not be the driving force. Rather, Virginia should first set its top priorities and fund them adequately but efficiently. The state's tobacco tax should be raised to help eliminate the funding deficit for K-12 education. Many of the current tax exemptions also need close scrutiny.

18. Should income taxes be collected and distributed locally?

I support the proposal to return a portion of the income tax to local governments. This position is supported by the Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties.

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 support a restructuring and diversification of the Virginia tax code which would allow us to ease the burden on homeowners. I do not support a mandatory 5 percent cap on local spending or property taxes. In addition, I support giving counties tax authority that would roughly equal the authority currently accorded to cities and towns. I support this legislation as a way to lessen localities' heavy reliance on real estate taxes.

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?

Redistricting did not add enough seats to the Northern Virginia delegation so that our region has a majority in either the House of Delegates or the Senate. For that reason, it is critical that Northern Virginia representatives build cooperative relationships with legislators from other regions with similar issues, such as Hampton Roads. This is the only way we will build coalitions to solve such important issues as education and transportation funding. I have sought to build those coalitions, and worked closely with the Hampton Roads and Richmond delegations to pass an important piece of education legislation.

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

I favor adjustments to the Dillon Rule to give localities more common-sense powers. A significant number of the bills introduced each session are what we call "enabling legislation." For instance, we had to specifically give localities the power to put U.S. flag decals on school buses and had to give Colonial Beach and Cape Charles the power to allow golf carts on certain beach front roadways. These issues are best dealt with administratively, not legislatively. Therefore, we need to reform the Dillon Rule so that the General Assembly can devote attention to the statewide issues that really matter.

22. What is right and wrong with Virginia's current laws governing abortion? Would you support any changes?

The law of the land, as established by the Supreme Court of the United States, states that women have a constitutional right to an abortion under certain guidelines. I will support the Court's decision. I will continue to oppose partial birth abortion and the use of tax dollars for abortion, and will support parental consent before a minor can have an abortion. I pledge to review carefully any future legislation that is introduced in the General Assembly before making a decision.

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

Yes, and I have voted to allow such bans.

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 General Assembly has made closing the SOQ gap a major priority over the past two years. We have found nearly $500 million of additional funding to put toward the SOQs, but we need to finish closing the gap before it has an impact on our Virginia schools. We need to adjust the cigarette tax to a more appropriate level, with the funds going to K-12 education. In addition, I will continue to push for changes to the local composite index, which gives Northern Virginia a fraction of the funds that are available to other areas of the state.

25. How would you rate the Standards of Learning tests and what improvements still need to be made?

Virginia's Standards of Learning have been successful in Virginia and give us a head start in preparing for the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. The SOLs are reviewed periodically by the Virginia Board of Education and adjustments are made as necessary.

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

Yes. I favor this type of legislation so that each school district can make the decision that is most appropriate and most supported by their constituents.

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 need to devote additional resources to our institutions of higher learning, especially in the areas of research and professor salaries. Our research universities are stagnating and we are losing top professors to private colleges and universities that can afford higher salaries. I am currently working with Senator Bill Mims to introduce legislation to address Virginia's long-term policies toward higher education. The time for Virginia to invest in its institutions of higher learning is now.