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Votes

Questionnaire: Dave McWatters, State Delegate, District 32

Office Sought: Delegate, 32nd House District

Party Affiliation: Independent

Previous office held: Loudoun Board of Supervisors, Broad Run District 1996-2000

Occupation: Retired USMC, Real Estate Residential Sales

Current employment: Associate Broker, Long & Foster Real Estate, 46191 Westlake Dr., Potomac Falls, VA 20165. 1981-present

Previous Employment: U.S. Marine Corps, 1960-1981

Education: B.S., Real Estate, University of Advanced Research, Hawaii

Community Ties: Served on American Heart Assoc., Cancer Society, United Way Boards of Directors, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America. Served on many organizations for Loudoun County. Member, Riverside Presbyterian Church.

ENDORSEMENTS: teachers, deputies and firefighters. While on the Board of Supervisors, I was the school system(s most ardent supporter and was chairman of the Internal Operations/Public Safety Committee. I was instrumental in pushing for teachers, deputies, and paid firefighters pay raises. I was also the advocate for mental health/mental retardation budgeting and was able to represent Loudoun on many regional organizations.

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

Successful four year term on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors and representing the county on many regional organizations, such as the Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, Dulles Area Transportation Association, Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority (Appointed by Governor George Allen) and other groups. I also served on the Transportation Coordination Council of Northern Virginia and contributed to the Transportation 20/20 Plan. While on the Board of Supervisors, I also was part of the majority which reduced the future density of homes in the county by 78,000, saving the need to build 22 schools, keeping taxes down and maintaining our high quality of life which we have come to enjoy and cherish.

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

N/A The incumbent should be blamed for our fiscal problems. He voted for the budget every year.

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.

Top five problems in the 32nd District

1. Transportation gridlock. Our citizens who commute spend far too much time in traffic. I support Rail to Dulles and beyond (not necessarily METRO), HOT lanes, the use of hybrid cars and their continued use of HOV lanes, telecommuting programs for private industry and government, another river crossing, a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (with safeguards against taxing authority) and overhaul of the Virginia Department of Transportation. I also support funding solutions like the Virginia Public Private Partnership Act and Community Development Authority (CDA), which I spearheaded to get the Rte. 7/28 intersection completed. We also need Seat Belt Legislation (Introduced by Del. May and Sen. Mims) to get us millions of dollars in federal funding which would go toward transportation. Del. Black voted against both of those bills. He also voted against banning of open containers in autos which also cost us millions in transportation dollars. I oppose raising fees on the Toll Road and Greenway and support perforating of the Greenway according to where you get off, such as the first exit in Ashburn.

2. Education funding. Virginia is only state in country that does not help build schools at the local level. Our local budget has 67% going to our schools (Operation costs and carrying costs of construction). I support a program where high-growth jurisdictions like ours that is sending so much of our incomes to Richmond and getting so little in return get immediate assistance for school construction. Six years ago we got 32% back. Now it is about 18%, thanks to the incumbent voting for the budget every year. We must also ensure that funding for higher education is not cut, as proposed by Delegate Black.

3. Taxes. The problem is distribution. Northern Virginia is a donor area for the rest of the state. While people are driving around on empty highways in Richmond, we are stuck in traffic trying to get to work. Until now, our taxes have been diverted to Richmond and other parts of the state. This is blatantly unfair to us. We need a complete overhaul of Virginia(s tax structure. Counties should have the same taxing authority as cities. Loudoun has no tobacco tax and needs one. Education funding could be changed to our benefit by adjusting the Composite Index. Our Northern Virginia Delegation needs to work in harmony with Tidewater who has similar problems, instead of bickering between themselves and getting nowhere fast, kind of in keeping with our commuters traditions here. Del. Black suggests we have a local Income Tax, which would only worsen our tax burdens. Bad idea, Dick.

4. Senior population. I am deeply concerned about our seniors, especially those on fixed income. Real estate taxes and health care costs are destroying seniors( quality of life. Many states have reduced property taxes for seniors, which I support. I also believe the state needs to get into the cause to reduce the cost of health care and prescription medicines for seniors. I believe seniors should have reduced property taxes after age 65. They have taken care of us for decades and it is time for us to allow them to enjoy a quality of life with dignity, grace and good health. I also support the Certificate of Public Need (COPN) for the Falcon(s Landing Respite Center.

5. Housing. Housing costs too much here. Half our deputies cannot afford to live in Loudoun County and teachers are equally hard pressed to find suitable housing. I have been involved in housing issues since the early eighties, including the past eight years on the Affordable Dwelling Unit Advisory Board. Part of the problem is the cost of new homes. Del. Black wants to add fees to the cost of each home (Impact Fees) and supports unbridled growth. This makes matters worse. We need to establish public/private partnerships to build affordable workforce housing, using tax breaks, reduced costs for municipal hookups and providing incentives for employers to participate in housing programs.

Note: Unique to our area is the cost of housing and need to own automobiles because of lack of public transportation.

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

The strongest characteristic I bring to this office is my extensive service in the county and

region on transportation and housing. My four years on the Board of Supervisors and

other activities has given me a background unmatched by anyone else. I have been

working for over 20 years on various issues and have lobbied at the state level against

higher taxes. I am known to be a non-partisan, tireless worker for the citizens and get

along with everyone, which will enable me to get things accomplished in Richmond. I

know how local and state government works and am friendly with all levels of

government, including our U.S. Congressman and Senators.

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

The biggest distinction between my opponents and myself is my vast experience. I have lived in Loudoun for 25 years. My two opponents have lived here for eight and eleven years. I have been involved in a wide variety of issues and am capable of discussing taxes, transportation, education and other issues in depth. Experience, integrity, no negative campaigning and a willingness to listen and not be beholden to special interests or extremist views.

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

When elected, I promise not to ever get involved in partisan politics or extremist behavior like the incumbent. The public is fed up with the bad examples we see in politicians and their silly antics and embarrassing behavior.

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 budget will be debated strongly in Richmond. I want nothing less than a complete overhaul of our tax system with more emphasis on education, transportation and social issues such as mental health/mental retardation programs and relief for seniors. This will result in a fairer taxing system and more money returned to our jurisdiction.

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.

Specific solutions for transportation. More use of the Virginia Public Private Partnership Act, Community Development Authorities, continued tax breaks for use of hybrid cars, use of HOT lanes, and telecommuting programs to get cars off the road. Loudoun needs a coordinated plan to synchronize our traffic lights, improve Rte 7 and continue toward completing the interchanges on Rte. 28 in accordance with the plan laid out in 1987 (When Del. Black was in the Army in Missouri, even though he takes credit for it now). Northern Virginia is a "Non attainment" area in regards to air quality. We need to get the federal government involved because it is a known fact that most of our pollution comes from Maryland smokestacks and the Ohio Valley. We cannot solve this problem by ourselves.

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 government has the tools they need to control and guide growth. Sometimes they go overboard but it is one area where they have tools at their disposal. The way to contend with the need for additional services is to slow down and require that infrastructure be in place before homes are built.

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

For air quality problems, we need better laws at the federal level and their help with reducing emissions from the Ohio Valley and Maryland. We are "downwind" from them and their pollution rolls right into our area. We need better pollution control on trucks, buses and household items, such as lawn mowers. I support our requirement in Loudoun to protect our streams and other waterways with zoning overlays to prohibit encroachment.

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

Generally, residents are safe but one home invasion is one too many. While on the Board of Supervisors, I helped get funding for a gang specialist prior to 2000. We must be vigilant and reinforce our Neighborhood Watch Program. It should be expanded, with help from the Sheriff(s Department. I believe we are prepared for Homeland Security problems as well as disasters befalling us, such the recent hurricane, high winds and extreme rains. The biggest concern I have is that, because of the cost of housing, too many deputies live far away, causing delays in getting them to respond to emergencies.

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?

I do have concerns about civil liberties and public access to information in the wake of the USA Patriot Act and responses to the Sept 11 attacks. I believe the Act gives too much leeway to invade our privacy and for abuses by the government. We must do all we can to protect our communities and country. Our children served in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Two are making the military a career. My fear is that the technicalities of the Act would allow for abuses against Americans who do not warrant intrusion and abuses into their lives, such as we saw in some of the raids. The Act needs to be scrutinized and corrected to eliminate the possibility of intrusion into our private lives.

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?

Low-wage workers are valuable in every society. They take care of issues we don't or won't do ourselves. These families need relief in their tax burdens, health care costs and access to counseling, cross-training in other vocations (at little or no cost) and help with their housing needs. We must eliminate completely, the sales tax on food and medicines and devise a system to help with child-care costs.

14. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

Yes, I have always supported counties having the same taxing authority as cities.

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

I believe the state tax on tobacco should be doubled. I also believe that Loudoun County should have the authority to implement a tobacco tax. If our cigarette tax alone were $1.00 more a pack, it would still be cheaper than Maryland. Every day in America, 2,000 teens and pre-teens start smoking. Every year in America there are over 440,000 tobacco-related deaths. The cost to our health care system and lost productivity at work alone are astronomical.

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

Gas taxes are too high. In our community, we must have a car because we have no mass transit. Because of pollution laws, we must have an efficient car, so forget about driving a clunker around here.

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

Restructure the tax code in Virginia? When we do that, we should take on World Hunger. I believe we need to correct the distribution and return of our taxes. Our Composite Index needs to be adjusted to return more of our tax dollars. We should consider making the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate a full time job so that they can solve the tax puzzle. I plan to be a "Full Time Delegate" and devote my energies to more than just six or eight weeks. Every other year when the General Assembly does our biannual budget, they are in Richmond for only two weeks longer. They should stay until the job is done. Congress does. Other states are full time legislators. This would take a constitutional amendment but should be explored. Departments in state government should be scrutinized for cost over-runs. More out-sourcing of services should be considered, as well as privatizing of certain services.

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

How should income taxes be collected and distributed locally? We don't have a local income tax, even though Del. Black suggested it. I believe the system works okay now. I pay my state taxes based on my federal tax return. I hate all taxes.

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.

If we had a 5% cap on property taxes, you can count on an automatic 5% increase every

year. What happens when you can lower the taxes? Fairfax had a property tax in the

1970's of $1.74. This is a dangerous gimmick. Nobody wants to raise taxes. Nobody

likes paying taxes. I hate paying taxes. But if I don't, my grandchildren will be learning

in a mobile home or tent.

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 key to working effectively in Richmond is in a non-partisan, cooperative manner.

We must have a delegation that works together instead of what exists now with partisan

bickering and extremist, non-cooperative positions and in-fighting within our own

delegation. We must also forge non-partisan alliances with other areas with similar

situations as ours, such as the Tidewater area.

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

I support a voter referendum to repeal or modify the Dillon Rule. At times, jurisdictions

should have the flexibility to self-govern. At other times, it has been incumbent upon the

General Assembly to exercise its combine wisdom to keep jurisdictions from

implementing "knee jerk" programs or "willy nilly" legislation without enough public

input.

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

Abortion is a personal decision that must be decided by individuals. Roe v. Wade is a Supreme Court ruling that cannot be changed by state governments. I believe our current laws should be looked at as an on-going process as we learn more about the consequences and impact on families.

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

I support localities being able to ban weapons from public buildings, except for law enforcement personnel.

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 am opposed to any mandate from a higher government unless there is financial assistance to carry out that mandate. Virginia must help jurisdictions enforce the "Standards of Quality."

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

improvements still need to be made?

Loudoun schools do very well on Standards of Learning tests. Any problems should be addressed by the locally elected School Board and if help is needed from the state, I would be their most ardent supporter, as I was while on the Board of Supervisors.

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

Yes, local School Boards should be allowed to ban all weapons on school property. Delegate Black's support for an amendment that would allow high school students to take their hunting guns to school was foolhardy and dangerous. Thankfully, it didn't pass.

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.

The biggest crisis in higher learning is the spiraling cost of tuition. Delegate Black referred to it as "wasteful spending" and wants to cut aid to state schools. I disagree. What's the point of having a good K-12 school system if our kids cannot afford to go to college? We must develop a designated stream of cash input to our colleges and universities and at the same time, mandate tighter budgeting for those schools. Part of every college/university curriculum should require student/faculty interaction and study of their budgets as part of their studies.