State Delegate, 45th District Democratic Primary

State Delegate, 45th District Democratic Primary

Jim Lay (D)

Jim Lay (D)

Age: 39

Family: Wife, Tina, and two children, Emma (2) and Oliver (3 months!)

Contact: Adam Justus, Campaign Manager, 703-801-0775

E-mail: or

Occupation: Attorney, Self-employed in private practice

Education: B.A. Philosophy (GMU), M.A. International Transactions (GMU), J.D. (GMU)

1. What is your top public service accomplishment?

Through the years I have promoted a safer, more promising community within three distinct roles: parent, teacher and prosecutor.

Perhaps most publicly, my role as a prosecutor allowed me to clean up our neighborhoods by locking up drug dealers, gang members, and many hundreds of others who victimized innocent citizens.  This is perhaps, the most tangible and visible public service accomplishment.

At the individual level, my work as a teacher has given me the opportunity to prepare the next generation for the many challenges facing us all. If our future is in the hands of our youth, then this is one of my finest public service accomplishments.

On a more intimate level, as a father I work everyday to teach my children the importance of education, tolerance and civic responsibility. In fact, all parents have the opportunity to provide this valuable public service every single day.

2. Sets you apart from other candidates?

I am well prepared, uniquely informed, and I have a plan.

I bring hands-on knowledge of the legislative process, having worked with the United States Senate, and the Virginia General Asssembly. So I won’t need on-the-job training.

I am the only candidate who has lived in each of the three jurisdictions this position serves.

But most important, I have a plan of action to bring about the changes we want to see in our community.

If you send me to Richmond, I plan to:

* Fix the Virginia Funding Formula to provide fair allocation of tax money for our district and address the unique education challenges of our rapidly expanding community.

* Write a law to fund after school and community programs that give at-risk kids a better chance at a good life.

* Create Gang Free School Zone legislation to close a loophole that allows gang members to keep dangerous machete knives in the trunks of their cars at school.

* Start a Virginia Cops and Community Program to put police officers where they are needed most -- our neighborhoods -- to keep our kids safe.

3. One thing you promise not to do if elected.

I promise not to forget why I’m running for office in the first place: to make our neighborhood, our community and our commonwealth a better place for our kids.

4. What is the biggest issue facing your district?

Fair allocation of funds.  We are paying out more in taxes than we are receiving back from the state, particularly when it comes to the education of our children. We need effective representation that can reach across the aisle and produce better outcomes for our kids and our future.

For example, the existing funding formula provides state funds as a function of property value—the wealthier the area, the less state funding we receive.  This fails to capture and address unique challenges affecting education in our area.

We are proud that we have an extensive international community, which requires our schools to support the education of children from 85 nations, speaking 55 languages. We must be equipped to teach them how to read and write English and integrate into an unfamiliar community setting. This unique regional dynamic is not addressed, and our needs as a community are not being met, under the current formula, which only looks at financial data to determine funding.

5. Additional legislation regarding abortion?

I strongly support a women’s right to choose and right to privacy. I support access to birth control, sex education, and family planning. I believe the government should not involve itself in a woman’s private, reproductive health-care decisions.

6. Local government control of revenue and taxing?

I support local control of revenue creation.  It seems quite logical to support a system of local control where local politicians are empowered to make local decisions – and held accountable to their local constituents if they fail.

The status quo is an unfair distribution of limited state resources. While we are the state’s economic engine, too often our dollars flow down a one way street, heading South. As such, local districts have no remedy when statewide decisions do not protect regional interests.

7. Dillon Rule?

The Dillon rule provides that localities shall have only those powers expressly granted them by the General Assembly, or those implicitly granted or inferred from powers expressly granted. Here too, local authority is diminished in favor of state authority.

We are not going to realize a sensible evolution away from the damaging Dillon Rule until we develop a sensible, Democratic majority in Richmond.

8. Role of state in determining status of same sex couples?

I support same sex unions, and more broadly I am a proud advocate for gay and lesbian rights.

The commonwealth must be insistent that state law is applied equally to all persons, irrespective of sexual orientation.

Virginia is a proud state with a rich historical tradition; unfortunately, some of our history reflects discrimination and bigotry. We must work hard to stamp out bigotry and ensure that we never again allow our government to arbitrarily discriminate against segments of our diverse community.