Chuck Caputo made history Tuesday by becoming Sully District's first-ever Democrat elected to state office. He is the new delegate representing the 67th House District.
Garnering 56 percent of the vote, the 67-year-old Oak Hill resident soundly trounced Republican opponent Chris Craddock, 27, who received just 41 percent. Sweeping 16 out of 17 precincts in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, Caputo racked up 10,747 votes to Craddock's 7,875. Libertarian candidate Chuck Eby of Fair Lakes received 485 votes for 2.5 percent.
"I CAN'T believe it; it's amazing," said a jubilant Caputo, Tuesday night. "When we started [campaigning], everybody said this was a Republican district and I didn't have a chance. But the citizens of the 67th District wanted a candidate who'd protect the quality of life here. From day one, I tried to appeal to Republicans, Democrats and Independents that we're all in this together — and my message resonated with all of them."
In the 40th House race, voters returned Del. Tim Hugo to office. The 42-year-old Clifton Republican ran unopposed and received nearly 93.4 percent of the vote. And in January, he'll begin his fourth session in the General Assembly.
"I'm excited," he said Wednesday. "And I'm looking forward to the coming two years. I feel honored that the people of southwestern Fairfax County gave me another opportunity to serve."
Hugo is a member of both the House Transportation and Finance committees, and he said he'll continue to focus on transportation issues and "bringing more money for transportation in our area."
County residents also overwhelmingly passed the school-bond referendum which contains $1 million toward the renovation of Clifton Elementary. The money will be used for architectural and engineering drawings.
Caputo captured all but one Fairfax County precinct, Dulles, and that was by just six votes. He made especially strong showings in the Fair Ridge, London Towne East, Waples Mill and Stone precincts, garnering 60 percent or more of the votes in those areas.
Following his victory, Caputo praised the people in his "tremendous field program." He said his precinct work under his field director, Scott Seymour, was right on target, helping him canvass precincts, identify voters, decide where campaign workers should go and even advise him in which neighborhoods he should go door-to-door.
"My campaign manager, Joe Lestingi, orchestrated this all beautifully — [overseeing] everything from the mail program to the budget he prepared," said Caputo. "And my finance director, Cheka Gage, was fantastic, working with me to raise money."
Although Craddock, a youth minister and soccer coach, angered many voters in the waning days of the campaign with unseemly comments about gays and Africans, Caputo attributes his win more to his own message and qualifications.
"WHAT WE had going was 36 years of public-service experience, plus 38 years working for the federal government — including as a member of the president's Senior Executive Service in the Defense Department," he said. "That's where I developed the leadership and managerial traits that helped me convince voters [I'm capable of the job] and someone that's in the sensible center."
Caputo and wife Barbara have three grown children and five grandchildren. Retired from the Defense Information Systems Agency, he served on the Fairfax County School Board from 1980-'85 and is vice chair of the Northern Virginia Community College Board of Trustees.
During the race, he received endorsements from both labor and business, including the highest business ranking from Virginia Free — a foundation for research and economic education. Also endorsing him were the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Northern Virginia Technology Council.
In Richmond, said Caputo, "I'll focus on transportation and education — and on a bipartisan action to make sure our Republicans and Democrats in the Northern Virginia delegation work in unison to make good things happen for Northern Virginia." He said one of his talents is being able to bring people of varying views to the table to work out their differences and come up with solutions beneficial to everyone.
"I'm determined to give it a good try," he continued. "And I'm looking forward to being responsive to the community. I plan to hold a series of town meetings to see what areas the citizens of the 67th District think I should work on and what's important to them."
Noting that factors such as education, public safety and transportation are major reasons why people choose to live in this area, Caputo said he considers Tuesday's victory as "one in which the people said, 'We will entrust you to go to Richmond and work on our behalf to ensure that we continue to retain and improve the quality of life we have here.'"