Libby Garvey, chairwoman of the Arlington School Board, announced last week that she will run to represent the 45th district in the Commonwealth’s General Assembly after Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-45) steps down at the end of her term.
A PTA activist and former Peace Corps volunteer, Garvey is making education policy the centerpiece of her election platform as a democratic candidate. Reforming the Commonwealth’s stance on No Child Left Behind, she said, is a vital first step.
“The way No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is dealt with changes constantly in Richmond and, sometimes, the people casting votes to determine how it is handled don’t quite seem to understand the impact,” Garvey said. “A lot of the No Child Left Behind testing requirements use standards of quality that are woefully out of date.”
For an example, Garvey pointed to the testing standards applied to elementary school students with a limited English proficiency (LEP).
“We require LEP students to take the test on writing, but we’re not testing English-speaking students because we know that they are too young to know how to write,” she said.
GARVEY ALREADY FACES three democratic challengers, including Elsie Mosqueda, a legislative aide to Del. Brian J. Moran (D-46) and David Englin, a former Air Force officer.
Richard Hobson, who served as a delegate in the General Assembly from 1976 to 1980 also plans to run for Van Landingham’s seat.
The 45th District encompasses parts of Alexandria along with segments of Arlington and Fairfax counties. Van Landingham, a senior member of the House, has said she plans not to run for re-election because of her on-going battle with colon cancer. So far, she is not making endorsements for any of her potential replacements.
“I am not making an endorsement in the primary battle,” Van Landingham said. “Libby and several of the other candidates are personal friends of mine and have been great supporters. I will say, however, that I think Libby is highly qualified and would be a very smart, energetic legislator with a special interest in education issues. She has worked statewide with education activists.”
On the current debate over state laws governing whether foreign born students can pay in-state tuition costs for admission to Virginia state colleges, Garvey said it comes down to the question of how dedicated the system is to bettering the lives of students.
“These students come to us as little children,” she said. “These are our kids and seeing them through to completing their education really is in the best interest of this state.”
TURNING TO TAXES, Garvey said that as long as the county struggles to find new ways to create revenue, the issue will be linked to Arlington’s economic growth.
“This idea that higher taxes slow growth doesn’t make much sense,” she said. “What will slow growth is not using the revenue we have to invest in the future.”
She is a member of the Emergency Preparedness Council, part of the Washington Council of Governments. Improving the 45th District’s ability to warn residents of natural disasters or a terrorist strike with a new warning system, she said, is imperative.
“There are many different types of warning systems we can put in place, we just have to implement one that everyone will hear or see, one that is right for our area” she said.
THE PRIMARY RACE will be hard fought, according to Del. Adam Ebbin (D-48), but Garvey is a viable candidate.
“I think that Libby’s background on the school board and her track record of being able to get elected in Arlington make her a strong candidate,” Ebbin said. “Partly because of the geography of the district, there doesn’t appear to be a front-runner right now, but she has a very good chance of winning.”
The Democratic Party's nomination is expected to be determined either by a primary vote or by a local party caucus in the coming spring. The 45th District House of Delegates seat will be on the ballot in the Nov. 7 general election.