Office sought: House of Delegates (35th)
Party Affiliation: Republican
Previous offices held; please include dates: Governor's Advisory Board for a
Safe and Drug-Free Virginia (1994); Virginia Board for Contractors
(1996-present); Chief Legislative Aide to Delegate Bob Andrews (1986-87).
Incumbents: when elected to this position:
Current employment (include name and address of employers): Senior Vice
President & Assistant General Counsel, Competitive Telecommunications
Association (CompTel), Washington, D.C.
Education: (please list schools attended, degrees and dates) J.D., William &
Mary, 1990; B.A. Duke University, cum laude, 1985.
Community ties: lifelong resident of Vienna. I'm raising my family on
what's left of the family farm where I was raised.
List a few current endorsements you are most proud of: National Federation
of Independent Business (NFIB) the premier association representing small
businesses in Virginia.
1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?
Working on drug abuse prevention and consumer protection on the Governor's Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug-Free Virginia and the Virginia Board for Contractors
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?
Tax Relief for Virginia Families
Rob supports limiting property tax increases to no more than 5% per year
without a referendum. He also favors eliminating Virginia’s “death tax.”
Accelerating Transportation Reform
Rob McDowell will work to change the funding formula to give Northern
Virginia our fair share of road and mass transit monies. Rob also supports
a state constitutional amendment to prohibit borrowing against the
Transportation Trust Fund without a “super majority” of the House and
Senate. He will work to promote creative transportation alternatives such
as telecommuting and Bus Rapid Transit.
A Better Education for Our Children
Better School Buildings
Rob McDowell supports a state constitutional amendment that would require
part of each budget surplus to be dedicated towards capital expenditures
such as new school construction and renovation so our children can learn in
modern and safe classrooms.
Better Pay for Qualified Teachers
McDowell will work to ensure that we have enough highly qualified teachers
to do the job. Better pay, more incentives and the highest standards for
teachers will improve teacher quality and help shrink classroom sizes.
Discipline is essential to creating a solid learning environment. By
backing up administrators and teachers when they enforce discipline, we’ll
make sure our students can learn and teachers can focus on their goal –
educating our kids.
Leave No Child Behind
McDowell will work to ensure a smooth transition to president Bush’s “No
Child Left Behind Act” and that the $200 million in additional federal funds
that Virginia will receive next year as a result of that Act will be spent
on our children and not wasted on creating more paperwork and education
As a father, Rob McDowell is dedicated to ensuring our schools are the very
best. He supports academic accountability, smaller classroom sizes and
giving parents and local officials more control over our schools. Rob wants
our kids to have the opportunity to continue their education and will work
to slow the increase in state college tuition costs. We need a Delegate who
knows a quality education is the foundation to our children’s future. We
need Rob McDowell representing us in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Fighting Crime in Our Neighborhoods and Schools
Will work to improve law enforcement training and technology.
Supports "Truth in Sentencing" for all crimes.
Will work to ensure increased prosecution of gun crimes.
Supports efforts to increase community policing near schools.
Describe one challenge (or more) in your district that is different than in other parts of the state.
Northern Virginia's tax dollars have been subsidizing the rest of the state for decades, especially when it comes to transportation and education. In fact, only 19% of every tax dollar sent to Richmond comes back to Fairfax. I will fight to equalize this disparity.
4. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?
I bring several years of experience in Richmond to this office. My work for three legislative sessions as Del. Bob Andrews' chief legislative aide combined with my appointment by two governors to statewide boards gives me significantly more germane experience for this position than my opponent's experience. Additionally, I have lived in this district for my entire life and my opponent just moved here nine months ago.
5. How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponent(s)?
I will hold the line on tax increases. He believes that Northern Virginians don't pay enough taxes.
6. What is one thing you promise not to do if elected?
I will not raise the overall tax burden on Virginia's families.
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?
Currently, the economy is growing at an estimated annual rate of 4.7%, more than twice the predicted rate. If this trend continues, within two years, I foresee that Virginia will be enjoying healthy surpluses once again, without tax increases. To prepare for that scenario, I will fight to ensure that a "super majority" is required before the General Assembly may "borrow" against the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and that we amend the state constitution to require that a portion of each surplus be used for capital
expenditures such as new roads and schools.
What impact is this likely to have on your constituents?
More economic growth will broaden the tax base and generate more money to pay for new roads, public transit and a fully funded K-16 education program.
8. What specific solutions will you propose for the transportation dilemma?
See above re walling off the TTF. Also, we must encourage the use of public/private partnerships, such as the Dulles Greenway, to build new roads and public transit. We should also leverage HOT lanes and toll lanes to speed congestion relief.
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 the concept of rail to Dulles, which has been debated all of my life. Until a solution is found to pay for it, I support the use of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). I also will make the creation of incentives to encourage more telecommuting a top priority. Telecommuting and BRT are environmentally friendly, fast and cheap. I support existing
laws to keep our air and water clean and I'll support stricter efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
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?
By planning intelligently, local governments can pay for the build out of infrastructure by capturing increased tax revenue generated by economic growth. For instance, since 1995, state tax revenue increased by 61% without a tax increase. That's more than inflation and population growth combined. By keeping taxes and regulation to a minimum, we can increase tax revenue once again and pay for our infrastructure needs.
Can more emphasis on smart growth help offset some of the effects of suburban
That depends on what you mean here by "smart growth."
10. What are your top environmental priorities? Please address air quality, water quality, open space, etc.
I support incentives for land owners to donate land for conservation purposes. I support stiff penalties and quick enforcement against polluters. I will work to ensure the enforcement of laws that have improved our air and water quality.
11. Are residents safe enough?
One of the core functions of government is to ensure public safety. Although crime rates are dramatically down over the past decade, we cannot rest. In fact, gang activity is up across Fairfax County and I will support measures to curb it.
How do public safety officials balance new demands of "homeland security" with other safety and quality-of-life issues?
We must always be vigilant in pursuing criminals and terrorists and catch them before they act. However, we must ensure that we do not infringe on the basic Constitutional rights that make America great. New statutes should be tested in court before the legislature acts to "repair" them.
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?
See answer above.
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? Yes.
They are vital and we have a collective responsibility as fellow human beings to help them.
What do you propose to address the needs of these families?
I will work to ensure that their tax burden is not increased. I will also focus my energies on economic development and education to ensure that lower income workers have the opportunity to "move up the ladder."
14. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?
If counties and cities have equal responsibilities, which currently they do not, then we
should consider equalization in other areas as well.
15. What is the appropriate state and local tax rate for cigarettes?
Please see answer to 17.
16. What is the appropriate state and local tax rate for gasoline?
Please see answer to 17.
17. How would you restructure the tax code in Virginia?
I believe that we should move away from the taxation of the value of property towards more of a reliance on a consumption tax. As a general matter, I believe that it is better to take a little bit from a lot of people rather than a lot from a few. Any new tax or tax increase in one area must be offset with a cut in another tax, such as real property taxes.
18. Should income taxes be collected and distributed locally?
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 disagree with the premise of your question. Property tax bills in Fairfax County have increased an average of 53% in four years, yet the services provided per person have not increased by any measurable amount, and certainly not by 53%. If we have meaningful tax restructuring and move towards more of a consumption tax model, localities will have a more reliable stream of money coming into their coffers. If we allow localities to share more in a broader consumption tax, then we must cap real estate taxes. I support the proposal of requiring Fairfax County to establish an Inspector General who could objectively, and without political pressures, pinpoint areas where the County could operate more efficiently.
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?
Political realignment in Virginia will take time. I will work hard to speed up Virginia's notorious glacial pace in this regard.
What will you do to increase the influence of Northern Virginia in Richmond?
I'll work to strike alliances with other willing regions of the Commonwealth.
21. Would you favor the repeal of the Dillon Rule? Why or Why not?
No. Virginia has been well-served by the Dillon Rule. By weakening it, we will create a business hostile patchwork quilt of regulation and taxation that will shrink our economy.
22. What is right and wrong with Virginia's current laws governing abortion? Would you support any changes?
I support parental consent and the ban on partial birth abortions. If the court rules that these laws are unconstitutional, I will work to rewrite them to ensure that they meet
23. Would you support allowing localities to ban weapons from public buildings?
I support prohibiting weapons from public buildings.
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?
Again, I will work on forging alliances to change the funding formula to ensure that we get more of our money back into our schools. I will also work to ensure that the roughly $200 million we will receive as a result of the federal No Child Left Behind Act goes directly into the classroom and is not used to build more bureaucracies.
25. How would you rate the Standards of Learning tests and what improvements still need to be made?
We need high academic standards and school and teacher accountability. Current tests may not be perfect, but they are a step in the right direction. We should remain flexible and constantly be on the lookout for improvements.
26. Should local school boards be allowed to ban all weapons on school property?
I support the prohibition of weapons in schools.
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.
Again, I propose that we use parts of each surplus for higher education capital expenditures. I also support full funding of higher education to ensure that our public universities remain world class.