The real work for change remains ahead, according to Del. Mark Sickles (D-43). Sickles, who won the seat for his district in the Virginia General Assembly for the first time in 2003, is running for reelection this year to continue for a second term.
"I think we made a lot of progress in the last two years in restructuring the way we fund state and local government," said Sickles, a former U.S. Army officer who currently works for Weeks Marine. Sickles served as chair of the Fairfax County Library Board for 11 years, until 2003, when he stepped down to run for the General Assembly.
"We have many challenges, and it's fun to be part of a group that's trying to solve them. I've enjoyed working on a bipartisan basis with my fellow delegates and senators," said Sickles.
Among the accomplishments of the past two years, according to Sickles, were raising salaries for state police and other state law enforcement, providing $50 million for Chesapeake Bay cleanup, and working toward improving the state's higher education system.
Sickles also said he believes during his term, the legislature went a long way toward achieving fiscal balance.
"In my two campaigns prior to this, I spent a lot of time saying how we were over-reliant in Fairfax County on the property tax," said Sickles. "I still believe that, and we took action in Richmond that provided more funding for the mandates we've required of local government and enabled them to be able to reduce the tax rate more than they could have."
The relationship between state and local government, and even between local governments, is one that Sickles believes is a task that lies ahead.
"We need to try to not make local government any harder than it already is. We need understanding of who's responsible for what, and at the state level, we need to do our part to take care of the things we're mandating," he said.
Sickles said he also believes solving transportation puzzles will require more creative problem-solving in the future, to prevent "total gridlock."
"We need a longer-term approach with dedicated sources of revenue that are equal to the task. Right now, we don't have that," he said. "The length of our commutes is going to drive some more creative approaches."
One of those approaches, said Sickles, would be more toll roads, as well as expansion of existing mass transit systems such as Metro or Virginia Railway Express (VRE).
"We need to provide better transit, better ways to get around rather than relying on automobiles. Our stalwart support is necessary for Metro and for VRE, to continue improvements to capacity for both of those systems," said Sickles.
Sickles is unopposed in the Democratic primary, and had raised $64,501 in funds through March 31.