<bt>When Jim Hurysz, a 20-year resident of Arlington, talks about the future of Northern Virginia, he often tells people that the area is adding 50,000 new residents a year. All these people need services, transportation options and schools for their children. And unless decision-makers invest substantial sums into new infrastructure, the region is going to be completely overwhelmed, he said.
"Not only do we need new infrastructure like new schools but you've got schools with trailers and they're old trailers."
His campaign to improve infrastructure in Northern Virginia has pushed Hurysz to run for Congress in Virginia's 8th district, which includes Arlington, Alexandria, Reston and parts of Falls Church, Vienna, Springfield and Mount Vernon.
"I'm running because our children, our grandchildren, they're going to live to be 95 years old," he said. "They have got to have a government that makes their quality of life good to excellent."
THIS IS NOT the first time Hurysz, a disabled Vietnam veteran, has run for office. Last year, he ran for the Arlington County Board as a Democrat, picking up 11 percent of the vote but losing to fellow-Democrat Paul Ferguson and Walter Tejada. This year, he considered jumping into the Democratic congressional primary against incumbent Jim Moran and his challenger Andy Rosenberg but decided to file as an independent for the general election when he realized how expensive and intense the primary would be.
"I'm running as an independent Democrat because I was told in January that the Democratic primary would be incredibly negative, and it would cost me $50,000 in what was a mudslinging match," said Hurysz, adding he is supporting Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) bid for the White House.
"He's very good on environmental issues," said Bill Cumming, an Arlington resident who supports Hurysz. "He's concerned about ... development."
But he said his choice of candidate was dictated more by his distrust of the incumbent, Jim Moran.
"I told Jim [Hurysz], 'The real reason I'm supporting you is it's an anti-Moran thing," said Cumming, who voted for Rosenberg in the primary.
Although he said he doesn't know much about Hurysz, Mike Brown, Moran's campaign manager, said: "To the extent [Hurysz] has new ideas and fresh ideas we welcome his participation."
Cheney could not be reached for comment.
FOR THE PAST 20 years, Hurysz has worked as a consultant, helping start-up high-tech manufacturing companies set up the most productive, cost-efficient plant possible. It is a mentality that he would like to see applied on the political scene.
"We are spending incredible amounts of money doing things the same way we have always done things with very insipid results," he said.
He points to the Bush administration's plan to build a ballistic missile defense program while American soldiers in Iraq are getting killed by rocket propelled grenades, weapons that have been around for decades.
"I would take the money from ballistic missile defense and put it into developing ways of protecting U.S. troops from RPGs," he said.
Also, he said, with the United States spending $134 billion on intelligence, diplomacy and foreign assistance, Congress ought to demand some accountability.
"For that kind of money we have got to have some real good results" such as disarmament agreements or peace initiatives, he said. U.S. forces are having a difficult time stabilizing Iraq even though the United States have spent $200 billion there, he added.
"How come they don't have fresh water? How come they don't have electricity? How come they don't have air conditioning? I would ask, where is the progress here?"
Meanwhile, the Bush administration's tax cuts were "very very unfair," he said, especially at a time of war.
"We have to pay interest on the national debt and that's taking money away from things we need like infrastructure," he said.
IF ELECTED, Hurysz said one of his first acts in office would be to sponsor a bill directing $10 billion to middle and high school after-school programs.
"Pro-life [advocates] should be going for that," he said. "It helps prevent teen-age pregnancies, it helps prevent gangs, it helps prevent obesity."
At a minimum, he said, the region needs a $5 billion infusion of cash from the federal government to meet its immediate infrastructure needs. The current Northern Virginia delegation of Moran, U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) and Frank Wolf (R-10) is not "proactive," he added.
"I'm for rail to Dulles, and I'm for doing it cheaply."
If that means replacing the planned Metrorail extension with light rail or a rapid bus system, Hurysz said he would support that.
On social issues, Hurysz described himself as "very pro-choice" and an advocate of stem-cell research. But he said he would like to see the number of abortions in this country reduced by an aggressive birth control information campaign.
Although Hurysz's positions are likely to be well-received in the left-leaning 8th district, that doesn't necessarily mean voters will elect him to Congress. The district's incumbent, Moran, is favored to win an eighth term to Congress on a platform not unlike Hurysz's.
"I think Jim [Moran]'s positions are also backed up by years of experience and years of successful implementation," said Brown. "It's easy to take the position, it's always difficult to actually implement the policies."
Hurysz also said he has raised about $20,000 so far — most of it his own money — compared to Moran's $1.3 million or Cheney's $136,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But Hurysz said his "proactive" proposals can sway former Moran voters.
"I have the ideas if people are willing to listen," he said. "We have an educated electorate, and I assume they are listening."