Republicans met last week in Alexandria to nominate two candidates for delegates in the 45th and 46th districts.
Corporate consultant Chris Gregerson of Alexandria is running in an area many consider a safe one for Democrats, the 45th District. Gregerson said he is looking for a statewide solution to the woes of local homeowners faced with rising property taxes.
"The root cause of it is that agricultural counties in the state are poor and we end up paying more for the cost of schools and state services for them," said Gregerson. "The solution is to raise the wealth of the poorer counties."
A retired Navy officer and a Vietnam veteran, Gregerson now works for Booz Allen Hamilton. By diverting more state and federal funds to rural Virginia, Gregerson said, Virginia can further develop its economy and lower taxes.
"What I'm really trying to do is keep your money in your pocket," he said.
But Gregerson said he also wants to see new jobs moving to Virginia's agricultural regions. Companies with large staff, he said, should be encouraged to move from cities to the countryside.
"Why can't they work in the poorest counties in Virginia?" he asked.
One potential source of revenue for rural Virginia, he said, is biomass fuel. Gregerson said if the House passed legislation to designate Northern Virginia as a special renewable fuel zone — a region where vehicles like dump trucks and buses run on gas made from organic materials — rural Virginia could profit from helping to reduce smog in developed regions where roadway traffic is heavy.
"If we create the demand for this fuel, agricultural counties can grow the materials used to make it," he said.
In his local community, Gregerson chairs the board of Communities in Schools — a nonprofit group that partners teachers and residents in 28 states to raise student achievement. A tutor at George Washington Middle School, Gregerson said legislation supporting community involvement with schools is of paramount importance when it comes to raising the bar for students. His recommendation is a match-up program placing students with tutors who can meet their academic needs.
"Teachers are masters at determining where their students' talents lie and what areas they need help with," said Gregerson. "That kind of community support would make them biased towards intervention so they could get the right kind of help for students who need it."
Gregerson also said he wants to "open up the school system to more competition" by creating more magnet schools and offering more options to parents.
On his bid for office, Gregerson added, "What I want is to go to the root cause of problems. I don't want to see us continue to put band-aids on them. Instead, I want to find solutions where everybody wins and everybody advances."
ALSO IN THE 46TH District, real estate executive and former advisor to the Bush White House Matt Mueda of Alexandria is running against longtime incumbent Brian Moran. Transportation is Mueda's top concern for the region. The House, he said, should seek to pass more legislation to reduce the number of cars on the road by offering incentives to companies that allow employees to telecommute.
"Mass transit is going to be an integral part of the solution but, quite frankly, some people are not going to give up the luxury of driving," said Mueda, who has advised both Presidents George Bush Sr. and Jr. on transportation policy. "We have a long way to go to convince a lot of people to use mass transit."
Mueda said widening local highways and putting more HOT lanes — express lanes that ask motorists to pay a toll — must be part of the discussion.
Once a firefighter in Fairfax County, Mueda said Virginia also needs to look at improving resources for emergency workers, resources like better radios. In too many instances, he said, firefighters, police and rescue teams have trouble talking to each other because the radios they use are not compatible.
"I haven't seen much to build more effective communication for first responders, not just inter- jurisdictional communication but also communication with their own departments," he said.
As of the Arlington Connection's press time, results were not in for the six-candidate primary held June 14. The winner will contend with Gregerson for the 45th District seat, long held by Del. Marian Van Landingham (D).
"I'm hoping we can make a difference in this race," said Chris Marston, chair of the Alexandria Republican City Committee. "Republicans in Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax are fired up."