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Votes

Ken Plum, State Delegate, District 36

Office sought:  Delegate

Party Affiliation:  Democrat

Previous offices held; please include dates:

Incumbents: when elected to this position:  1977

Occupation:  retired educator and school administrator

Current employment (include name and address of employers):

Previous employment  Fairfax County Public Schools

Education: (please list schools attended, degrees and dates):  Old Dominion University, B.A., 1965; University of Virginia, M.Ed., 1967

Community ties: Chairman, Dulles Corridor Rail Association.  President and Chairman, Celebrating Special Children.

List a few current endorsements you are most proud of:  teachers and environmental groups

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?  Making rail to Dulles a priority regional transportation project.

2. Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term. Why shouldn't voters blame you for current problems in your district?  Preventing further erosion of an already inadequately funded education budget.  One individual does not cause or cure problems in a complex society.

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.

a.  Quality of schools - increase funding and meaningful accountability

b.  Space in colleges and universities for their children - work to increase funding.

c.  Transportation - balanced system including rail to Dulles

d.  Human services - expand programs

e.  Health care costs - work to reduce costs

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

Persistence, dedication, motivation, experience.

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

N/A

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

Not become beholden to any special interests.

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?

One billion dollar shortfall for next year.  Restructure taxes to provide more revenue within a fairer tax structure.

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.

Complete rail in the Dulles Corridor.  Promote tele-work programs and increased bus services.  Promote transit-oriented growth.

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?

State needs to adopt more smart growth initiatives giving more power to local government to direct growth.

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

Virginia's natural resources agencies are among the lowest funded in the nation.  They need to be given adequate funding to carry out their regulatory responsibilities.

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

We are privileged to live in one of the safest, low crime communities in the country, but we should never take public safety for granted.  We need to maintain our professional police and rescue forces and a strong judiciary that protects individual liberties.

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?

The Patriot Act needs serious re-examination by the U.S. Congress.  They may have gone too far with it.

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?

Our local economy will not function without our service workers.  We need to make sure that low income housing is available in our community.

14. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

Counties should have the same taxing authority as cities as long as their responsibilities are equalized.  For example, cities now have to maintain their streets but counties do not.

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

My bill would have raised the current 2 1/2 cent tax to 52 1/2 cents.  It would have raised $350 million, an amount equal to the estimated cost of smoking-related diseases paid for by Medicaid.

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

Increase the current rate by the rate of inflation since the last increase which would equal about five cents.

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

Make the income tax more progressive.  Eliminate some tax breaks.  Extend sales tax to contain services.

18. Should income taxes be collected and distributed locally?

Income tax should remain a state tax, but revenues could be shared with localities.

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 an arbitrary tax cap.  Tax restructuring can take the pressure off the property tax.

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?

The Northern Virginia delegation includes members from a broad spectrum of political beliefs.  The sales tax referendum for transportation was supported by most members of the delegation but vigorously opposed by other members.  I'll do all I can to bridge differences, but it is difficult.

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

Aspects of the Dillon Rule related to local administrative matters should be shifted to localities.  The issue is very complex in restructuring how government works in the state.

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

Too many laws making it difficult for a woman who has to make the tough personal decisions on choice.

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

Yes.

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?

State funding needs to increase to 55% of prevailing practices.

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

Too much emphasis on trivia.  Standards need to be rewritten to emphasize critical thinking and problem solving.  Reduce emphasis on multiple-choice tests.

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

Yes.

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.

Virginia now underfunds its colleges and universities by about $400 million when compared to peer institutions.  We need to close that gap.

Please feel free to send us an other information or materials you think might help us understand your motivations, positions, record and candidacy.

The Reston Connection has been running my weekly column for the past year.  The columns cover a variety of topics and issues about which I have strong opinions and concerns.  They are all on my website and can be viewed there.