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Questionnaire: Dick Black, State Delegate, District 32

Office sought: House of Delegates, 32nd District

Party Affiliation: Republican

Previous offices held: Library Board, 1996-98; Member, House of Delegates, 1998-2003.

Incumbents: when elected to this position: 1998

Occupation: Attorney

Current employment: State Delegate

Previous employment: Taylor, Horbaly & Black, Attorneys at Law

Education: University of Florida BSBA (Accounting) 1970-73; University of Florida School of Law, JD, 1973-76.

Community ties: NFIB, Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church, Elks, Knights of Columbus, VFW, American Legion, Izaak Walton League, NRA, VSHL, USMC Helicopter Assn., Law Enforcement Alliance of America.

ENDORSEMENTS: Senator George Allen, Senator John Warner, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, and Congressman Frank Wolf.

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

Improving transportation. When I was first elected, Northern Virginia's share of state transportation funds was 29%. Today, we get 43%. Just last year, I sponsored HB 426 which brought the only new transportation money to Northern Virginia. Several months ago, we broke ground on the Route 28 Freeway, replacing stops lights with interchanges. Cloverleaf interchanges with 4-lane bridges will be finished at Waxpool, at Old Ox Road, and at Westfields within just two years. My House Bills 1287, 735 and 426 enabled us to finance this $200 million project. It was the state's largest new highway startup for 2003.

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

I'm proud of helping make Virginia the only state in 50 to raise state funding for education despite the recession. And I'm pleased that we did it without raising taxes.

Our county has superior roads and schools. I'm fixing the County's worst traffic problem through the $200 million Route 28 Freeway project. Through the passage of three of my bills, Route 28 is being changed into a freeway. The light at Waxpool Rd. and Rt. 28 will be replaced by a cloverleaf interchange in only two years. Five other intersections, including the new Air and Space Museum exit and Rt. 606, will also have their stoplights replaced with similar overpasses and interchanges.

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.

Transportation, education, and low taxes are my top priorities. Since elected, I have worked on the improvements that are being made on Route 28, the widening of Route 7, the completion of Fairfax County Pkwy, and Loudoun County Pkwy. I serve on the Education Committee as well as the Transportation Committee. I am proud that this year Virginia was the only state in the nation to increase education funding in spite of these financially trying times. Taxes can not be raised any higher. I will examine carefully the Governor's tax plan as he reveals it and will fight against higher taxes.

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

I'm an acknowledged leader in the House of Delegates, with a firm commitment to a vigorous economy, personal liberty, and traditional family values. I have an exceptional record of legislative achievement in transportation and education. My office has an exemplary reputation for courtesy, friendliness, accessibility and constituent service.

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

My opponent advocates higher taxes. I do not. She believes in same-sex marriages, unfiltered access to Internet pornography in libraries, and unfettered access to abortions. I do not. While her push-poll tactic of slandering minorities was publicly condemned by four prominent Democrat Party leaders, I have run a positive, issues-oriented campaign. My opponent has no record of legislative achievement, but I have earned a 100% rating from the National Federation of Independent Business; a 100% rating from the Family Foundation; and a 100% rating from the Taxpayers' Alliance.

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

I will not betray my constituents, and I will do nothing to further fray the moral fabric of our nation.

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 tight this year and will begin to recover after that. We should cut waste and avoid burdening the economy with higher taxes. We can grow our budget as the economy recovers.

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.

I enacted legislation that funded the $200 million Route 28 Freeway, and it is my top priority. Now, we must drive that project to completion. Hobie Mitchell of the Commonwealth Transportation Board and Tom Farley have agreed to meet with me and the Chairman of the Board to discuss ways to accelerate widening of Route 7. Delegate Marshall and I are sponsoring legislation to issue bonds that could pay to widen Route 7.

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?

We need to stop density packing in the East. Through a more balanced growth policy, growth pressures can be shared by all parts of the county, not just the east. We must end PDRs. PDRs raise property taxes and spawn waste and political corruption. They tax the poor to subsidize wealthy estate owners. The Comprehensive Plan reserved two-thirds of our County for those sufficiently wealthy to afford 20-50 acre estates. Soon, this vast area will be an exclusive preserve for multi-millionaires. That is elitist and un-American. We mustn't become a place where only the dreams of the rich matter.

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

We should work to preserve parkland in the east. But any land we acquire with public funds must be open to the public. The current policy of purchasing development rights on land that says "no trespassing" to the public, is foolish and must end. PDRs have got to go. I've never breathed cleaner air than in Loudoun County. Keep it just as it is.

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

America must defend its own borders in the interest of national security. However, while INS needs authority to rapidly deport those who enter our country illegally, it must not do so in a selective fashion.

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?

We must protect our freedoms at home as we confront challenges abroad. But we must guard against abrogating basic freedoms by overreacting to external threats.

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?

We must control government spending to relieve families of the crushing burden of ever-higher taxes. Beyond that, we must adopt common-sense land use policies that stop forcing working families to commute to West Virginia to find housing. Service workers, government employees, teachers and deputy sheriffs simply cannot afford the 20-50 acre estates envisioned under "smart growth." The answer is not more tax-subsidized housing; the answer is for government to stop restricting the availability of affordable land.

14. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

No.

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

No change.

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

No change.

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

I would cap property taxes so that local governments could not increase home owners' tax bills more than 5% plus the rate of growth plus inflation. We must contain the rapid escalation of property taxes.

18. How 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 introduced the bill to cap property taxes. It is silly to say that limiting tax hikes to 5% per year requires local government to "live without." Most taxpayers would be delighted with a 5% annual increase in their wages. Government's appetite for cash is so voracious that even a generous 5% annual increase evokes an anguished response. We need to stop government's unconstrained growth before it absorbs the private sector.

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?

I have cosponsored legislation to enhance Northern Virginia's share of school and transportation funds, and will continue to do so. The funding formulas were established by the Democrats during a different era. Since my election in 1998, we have raised our region's share of transportation funds from 29% to 43%. We have also devoted all lottery proceeds to education. Still, the basic formulas need to be adjusted to provide even greater equity to our area, and I will continue to work to do so.

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

No.

Those who prefer non-Dillon Rule states should move to Baltimore or Berkeley. The Dillon Rule prevents localities from enacting extreme measures. It avoids a disparate patchwork of local laws. It is one of the great strengths of Virginia government.

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

I oppose the killing of unborn children through abortion. Abortions are cruel and barbaric. We have suffered the loss of 42 million Americans to abortion. This is a national tragedy of profound dimensions. Abortion must end if our culture is to endure.

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

I believe a patchwork of disparate, shifting, and unpredictable local ordinances is undesirable.

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 proud to have made Virginia the only state among 50 that increased state aid to public education in the face of the recession. This shows what we can accomplish when we prioritize and eliminate wasteful spending.

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

Standards of Learning have helped improve education in Virginia. At first they were controversial. But Republicans held firm and now, schools are seeing genuine improvement in students' academic performance. We need to stay the course.

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

The State of Virginia has already authorized school systems to ban all weapons from schools. Accordingly, the Loudoun County School Board has promulgated LCPS Weapons Policy (sec. 8-32) which says: Students may be expelled from all Loudoun County Public Schools for possession or use of firearms, slingshots, knives, or other weapons on 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.

We must end in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Beyond that, public universities must control runaway expenditures and operate in a more business-like fashion. We need to curtail enrollment of out-of-state and foreign students. Virginians pay the immense capital costs to build our campuses. Foreign nations and other states should bear those same costs and pay to educate their own students at home.

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