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Votes

James Dillard, State Delegate, District 41

Office sought: Delegate

Party Affiliation: Republican

Previous offices held:

Incumbents, when elected to this position: 1971-1978, 1980-present

Occupation: Delegate

Current employment: Commonwealth of Virginia

Previous employment: teacher and administrator, Fairfax County Public Schools

Education: William & Mary, BA History

American University, MA Political Science

Community ties: Chairman, Northern Virginia Mediation Service at George Mason University, Gunston Hall, Advisory Board, Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation, Board Member

Endorsements: Virginia Education Association, Sierra Club

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

Over three decades of service, there are several accomplishments of which I am proud. This year I received the National Legislator of the Year Award from the American School Counselors Association for my sponsorship of legislation funding school counselor positions in our elementary schools. I have also received the Legislator of the Year award from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for my leadership in the preservation of natural resources.

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

As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on k-12 Education I was able to protect the public education budget from the reductions made in other sectors and to actually increase by $290 million state funding for education in the last session. Last year I lead the fight to add $560 million to the Standards of Quality funding.

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.

The top issues that concern my constituents are maintaining quality schools, resolving transportation problems, ensuring clean air and water, assuring public safety, and providing results and accountability for public spending. Because Fairfax County is the state's leading school system, my district faces a unique challenge in managing a growing and diverse school population while maintaining excellent quality in our neighborhood schools.

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

My position as Chairman of the House Education Committee and as a senior member of the General Assembly provides an unusual level of influence for the citizens of my district. As a member of select House-Senate Budget Committee, I am able to make a strong case for our needs as the final draft of the state budget is made. Also, as a former teacher and school administrator, I understand parent and teacher concerns for the success of our schools.

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

I am the candidate with experience in education and seniority in the House of Delegates.

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

I promise never to rest until I have met my responsibilities to the citizens and the

children of this district. I will not change from being completely honest with my

constituents.

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 best scenario would be that the economy continues to improve at a pace that

would meet the built-in expanders of the budget (e.g., increased school population,

growth in the number of elderly on Medicaid, building and maintaining transportation

arteries, etc.). The likelihood is that the state's income growth will not keep pace. This could result in more pressure on localities to provide funds for the programs that they desire to maintain or are mandated.

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.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is currently working with the federal

government to produce a 10-year plan to reduce transportation pressures and to

improve air quality. This includes expanded and better federal and local coordination

of flexible work hours and car pools, improved bus and bus-to-rail connections, and

intelligent use of telecommuting. I will continue to support public/private partnerships

and explore alternatives such as HOT lanes.

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? What are the important features of "smart growth," and can more emphasis on smart growth help offset some of the effects of suburban development?

Local governments have the tools that they need to guide growth. It is important for localities to consider their commitments to infrastructure --- particularly roads, schools, water and waste processing --- as essential parts of the functions of economic development and zoning.

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

water quality, open space, etc.

I was chief patron of the successful state park bond referendum that provides for more

open space. I authored the Virginia Soil Siltation Act that began the effort to clean up

the Chesapeake Bay, and I have continued to add to those provisions as a Member of

the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Our parks and natural resources continue to be a

priority of my legislative work. I have consistently supported mass transit to help clean our air.

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

Since 9/11, public safety officials at all levels have redoubled their efforts to coordinate with one another and to have plans in place to respond to a variety of public emergencies. In the legislature, we tightened the process for issuing drivers licenses, and we provided for a Homeland Security Commission to identify and address safety needs.

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?

While the state does not control federal legislation such as the Patriot Act, it is important for us to proceed in a manner that respects our open society yet provides for the security that our citizens need to feel safe in their neighborhoods, schools, and work places. I sponsored the legislation that opened the General Assembly to the public and the press.

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?

Every citizen is important to the economic health of the Commonwealth. During the last legislative session, the General Assembly authorized the enrollment of poor children in the federally administered health care assistance program, but could not fully fund the program. As the budget permits, job training and adult education programs should be expanded to support needy citizens in gaining the tools they need to be productive and appropriately compensated.

14. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

There should be no difference in governmental authority between cities and urban counties such as Fairfax.

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

Any increase in the tax rate for cigarettes and similar goods should be commensurate to the increased cost of public programs, such as health care.

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

Gasoline taxes should be tied to the costs associated with building and maintaining highways and providing public transportation.

1 7. How would you restructure the tax code in Virginia?

The most important thing is for everyone to pay a fair share of the costs. Currently, over $3 billion a year is lost in sales tax revenues due to special exemptions. Plugging these loopholes and modernizing the tax structure should be at the top of the list.

18. How should income taxes be collected and distributed locally?

There are currently no local income taxes in effect.

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.

Property taxes are set by the local board of supervisors who are answerable to their

constituents.

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?

Northern Virginia legislators hold many of the influential positions in the legislature and are able to deflect attacks on the region from other areas, but we are not the majority and can not impose our will on the General Assembly as a whole. The Northern Virginia legislators meet regularly on legislative strategy, and form coalitions with other areas with similar issues. I will continue to work with this group to coordinate our efforts in the best interests of the region. An example of the clout we have in leadership positions was my ability to stop cuts in school funding and to actually increase spending for schools.

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

The Dillon Rule recognizes that local governments are chartered by the state, but are not independent from the state. Many state programs such as education, water management, parks management, road building, public safety, and the like depend on statewide coordination that would be impossible in a confederation of independent entities.

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

Would you support any changes?

A woman's health issues should be resolved between her and her doctor and should

be based on best medical practice and her own beliefs. While the state should not

force medical decisions on its citizens, I believe the procedure should be more difficult

to obtain as the pregnancy progresses.

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

Weapons in the possession of civilians have no place in 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?

I helped improve the education budget in the last cycle so that the state's shortfall in

payments to localities was cut by 50%. I will continue to reduce this gap as state funds

become available.

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

still need to be made?

Through my intervention, the SOL tests in social studies were revised to be more

relevant and to be administered in a timelier manner. I believe in appropriate, fair

accountability, and I will continue to monitor the progress of the testing program.

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

I sponsored legislation restricting weapons on school property and increasing penalties for violators. I support school board effects to keep weapons off school grounds.

27. Characterize the crisis 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.

At the university level, failure to support graduate programs and research has dropped

Virginia out of the top tier of science and engineering programs. In particular, state

funding for salaries has dropped below a nationally competitive level. At my alma

mater, William & Mary, faculty turnover tripled this year as experienced professors

moved on to more lucrative positions in other states. Salaries for college professors

and public school teachers should be among the first considerations of any budget

adjustments made in the next biennium.