After being out of politics since 2002, John Mason is ready to get back in. The former mayor of the City of Fairfax is running for the Republican nomination for delegate in the 37th District to take the seat being vacated by Del. Chap Petersen (D-37), who is running for lieutenant governor.
Mason, who works as a transportation analyst, says that his background in the private sector will be well used in Richmond, and that it has motivated him to run. “Can I contribute somehow to coming to grips with transportation in Northern Virginia?” Mason said.
Mason said he takes a regional approach to transportation planning, and that sort of vision is needed to make a substantive impact. “It’s hard to envision that there will be either the significant revenue or the ability to do major highway improvements inside the Beltway,” he said.
Some projects in distant areas, such as a highway connecting the more western counties and an additional bridge across the Potomac River may offer some help to relieve congestion. Mason also said that some intersection improvements could be used to increase traffic flow. He is supportive of extending Metro to Dulles and of building new High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on the Beltway.
He would also act to synchronize traffic lights across jurisdictions. For example, the lights along Route 50 could be adjusted from Loudoun County, through Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax and into Arlington County to allow cars to move more easily in and out of Washington, D.C.
Another facet of Mason’s plan is improving the roads to reduce the number of accidents and more quickly clearing the accidents that do occur. Improvements in transit, Mason said, must parallel changes to highway infrastructure.
Mason also noted his experience in local government as something that will allow him to better understand many issues. “I’m motivated to have someone with that type of background in local government,” he said.
Localities in Virginia only have powers specifically granted to them by the state under a principle known as the Dillon Rule. Mason explained that parts of the state, such as Northern Virginia, are beyond need of that oversight. “It’s time for Virginia to look at that and decide where it’s appropriate,” he said. “Local governments need a wider array of options and tools.”
One example of the problem with state oversight Mason pointed to is red light cameras. He was mayor when the City of Fairfax began its pilot program of using the cameras. “I am a strong proponent of it,” he said. The cameras, he said, reduce traffic accidents and free police officers for less mundane tasks.
Education funding is an area where Northern Virginia typically feels shortchanged. Tax dollars from this region often go to fund projects in less affluent areas of the state. Mason acknowledges that changing the funding formulas which govern state funding of schools is unlikely.
Mason said that the best we can hope for in this region is a more defensive posture. He suggested that if a new source of school revenue emerged, he would work to have that excluded from the funding formulas that shortchange the region. “If there is an additive of any kind, we try and keep it out of that formula,” he said.
ON SOCIAL ISSUES, Mason takes a conservative stance. He supports the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. “My mayoral experience tells me that the family unit is important,” he said. “I am supportive of the traditional definition of marriage.”
He would, however, be open to allowing people to authorize others to make certain decisions on their behalf. Although he prefers to divorce that idea from whether or not those individuals happen to be gay. “I see it as a people caring for people issue,” he said.
While Mason believes that people have a general right to own a gun, he said that he has not studied the specific gun laws that are proposed by in the General Assembly to know how he would vote on them. In general, Mason said, he would want to look at the proposals analytically to determine if the proposed law is solving a problem, or is unnecessary.
Mason did note that gun laws are an area where it makes sense to have uniformity across the state.
Mason made it clear that he does not like abortion being used as a form of birth control. However, he would allow exceptions in cases of rape, incest or the danger of the life of the mother.
The primary for the House of Delegates in on Tuesday, June 14. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Mason's opponent for the GOP nomination, Jim Kaplan, has raised $29,597 as of March 31. Mason filed his candidacy too late to be included in the most recent finance reports.
On the Democratic side, David Bulova has raised $32,976 and Janet Oleszek has raised $34,077.
Libertarian Scott McPherson has raised $2,088.