Like his grandfather and father before him, John H. "Jack" Rust has lived and worked in Fairfax all his life. After marrying Susan Byrne 33 years ago and graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1972, Rust came back to Fairfax to practice law with his father.
Since then, Rust, 56, has been involved in the community at the local and state level. A member of the House of Delegates from 1980-82 and again from 1997-2001, Rust hopes to regain the seat he lost to Democrat J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen and return to Richmond next spring.
"It's the most rewarding work I've ever done," Rust said. "You have the opportunity as one of 140 to influence what's happening in the state. You have an ability to make things happen that are important not only for the state's future but for around here. I'd very much like to go back and finish my work."
Supporters think that Rust's experience makes him an ideal representative for the 37th District.
"Jack is one of the very best legislators to serve in Richmond. He delivers," said campaign volunteer Joe Underwood of Fairfax, commenting on Rust's work on the car tax and transportation issues. "He has one of the best policy minds I've ever met. And he's a decent man, everything you would want in a legislator and in a neighbor."
Rust, who currently serves on the board of directors of Historic Fairfax Inc., has previously served as city attorney from 1974-78, president of the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce in 1985, member of the 2020 Commission and chairman of the History of Fairfax City Roundtable.
He lives in Fairfax with his wife, Sue, and his three grown boys reside in the area.
With his campaign in high gear, Rust has been meeting with citizens in the 37th District.
"I've learned something every day going out and knocking on doors and talking to people," Rust said. "We started out with the campaign believing the issues were taxation, education, transportation, crime. There's nothing that has changed that analysis. Clearly, they're upset about the transportation situation, they're concerned about education, both higher education and K through 12, and they are looking to the General Assembly to make decisions which are not going to put them in the poorhouse because of the tax system. Those are things I think are critical."
As Rust considered the issues, he suggested solutions to improve the quality of life in Northern Virginia. For taxes, Rust would like to see a tax system that better reflects the state of the economy. While property taxes had been a good reflection of economic activity in agricultural or industrial societies, according to Rust, the growing emphasis on technology and a service-based economy should impact the way the state and localities collect revenue.
"I think it's going to be very important that Virginia have a tax system in place that makes sense for the 21st century," Rust said. "I think we're at risk at this point of losing tax reform altogether, and I don't want to see that happen.
"The localities are dependent upon property taxes as their principal source of revenue. ... I'd like to see that we get tax revenue that's not property-based. I think the state has got to share some of the revenues it has in order to make that happen."
Regarding education, Rust would like to see the Northern Virginia coalition continue to join forces to modify the funding formula so that more money comes back to the area for school construction and renovation.
"I'm very concerned where Northern Virginia is in terms of education funding. We had a very serious situation in the last session where Northern Virginia basically lost 10 percent of its education budget. And it didn't lose it because of the budget, it lost it because the money was reallocated to the rest of the state. And that's just wrong," Rust said.
"The Northern Virginia delegation had combined forces to begin to do programs on a per-pupil basis," Rust said. "A lot of programs were moving outside that formula like ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages] and special education, with money coming back to Fairfax County based on student population as opposed to a composite index. In the 2002 session, they killed about half of those programs, and drove that money back into the formula so that everybody else in the state got a raise and we lost 10 percent of our funding. And that was just absolutely wrong, and I want to go back and try to fix that."
RUST SUPPORTS a constitutional amendment to preserve the transportation trust fund from being used for nontransportation projects. He said that he was distressed when the state used $300 million from the fund to balance the budget.
"We should not be invading the trust fund to try to balance the budget," Rust said. "That $300 million dollars in cuts hurt Northern Virginia much more than the rest of the state. Because when the Commonwealth Transportation Board reallocated all of its money, Northern Virginia took two-thirds of the cuts."
Rust added that another issue citizens had concerns about was care for the disabled population, and the lack of resources available for those chronically disabled or disabled as result of an accident. After talking with several parents of adult children who have disabilities, Rust said they had concerns about the lack of institutional facilities or group homes.
"They are very concerned when they, as caregivers, either move on or something happens to them," Rust said. "I'd very much like to find a way for appropriate care."
As Rust continues to campaign this fall, detractors will focus on Rust's perceived weaker connection to the community.
"Jack would cut deals with other parts of the state that I believe were injurious to Fairfax County," said Supervisor Gerry Connolly (D-Providence).
But supporters believe his stance on issues will carry him through the election.
"Jack has one paramount interest in representing the district, and this is his own constituents," Underwood said. "We need leadership and we need maturity in Richmond."
Del. Vince Callahan (R-34th), who had served with Rust in the House of Delegates, agreed.
"He's a very able person. A superb mind," said Callahan. "He's already had experience in three terms, and he's done an outstanding job."