Although Democratic candidate Chuck Caputo and Republican hopeful Chris Craddock have garnered most of the attention in the political contest that will make the winner the state delegate for the 67th House District, there's also a third contender — Libertarian Chuck Eby.
HE'S PART of the Libertarian Party hierarchy and, for two years now, has served as its 10th Congressional District chairman. And friend Fred Childress, an economist from Falls Church, says Eby's an intelligent man who'd do a great job as 67th District delegate.
"He's an informed person and a critical thinker with considerable integrity," said Childress. "He's the kind of person I'd trust with anything."
Describing Eby, 49, as a "sincerely concerned citizen," Childress said he's "not running out of an agenda to legislate things inappropriate to legislate, such as morality." Instead, he said, Eby's "a believer in limited government" — maintaining that it's not supposed to be "our parent." Furthermore, said Childress, "He doesn't believe that throwing more money at the same failed solutions will solve problems."
A former Burke Centre resident, Eby's lived 39 years in Northern Virginia — the past three in Fair Lakes with his wife Judy, a bank manager for e*trade Bank. He's treasurer of the Fair Lakes Homeowners Association, is a software manager for a large defense contractor in Falls Church and has three grown children, Jennifer, 25, Liesel, 22, and John, 20.
He says the Libertarian Party is a proponent of small government, individual rights and personal responsibility. For example, in the realm of welfare, said Eby, "People should first rely on their own means to support themselves, then ask family and friends and — only as a last resort — seek out government help."
This is his first time running for a government office, but he felt compelled to do so. "I entered the race because my [67th District] delegate, Gary Reese, had voted to increase my taxes, and it looked like he'd be unopposed again, like he was two years ago," explained Eby. "So I thought I'd give the voters a chance to vote for a low-tax candidate."
And even though Craddock defeated Reese in the Republican primary, Eby believes there's still a strong reason for him to remain in the race. "Chris Craddock appears to be good on the tax issue, but is for traditional values — which I interpret as his basically wanting to enforce his morals on his neighbors," said Eby. "I believe government should not intrude in people's private lives, and people should be able to live as they choose, as long as they live peacefully."
HE SEES taxes and the size of government as the two major issues in this race. "I'd like to repeal the huge tax increase from last year and return that money to all the taxpayers in Virginia," he said. "Everyone who paid income taxes last year was overcharged, and I'd like them to have a refund check [for what's owed them]."
Noting that the state government this year has a huge surplus — almost $1.2 billion — and the tax increase was $1.4 billion, Eby believes that "you could refund [the overcharged amount] and not have to cut anything [from the state budget]."
He'd also like to pass a Taxpayers Bill of Rights limiting state-government spending to its current levels and only adjusting it each year to reflect inflation and population growth. Doing so, said Eby, would also limit the size of government. And, he added, "Any revenue received over and above that amount would be automatically refunded to the voters."
Given the chance, he said, he'd start privatizing as many functions as possible — starting with schools and roads, "two of the costliest things our state government does." Instead, he prefers road construction funded similar to the way in which the new Westfields Interchange was financed, via a public/private partnership and a special tax district of Route 28 landowners.
As for education, Eby favors school choice and says the way to get it is through a voucher system. "It's currently more expensive to educate a child in public, vs. private, schools because people pay for it in their taxes," he said.
"In 2000, it cost approximately $10,000 per student per year to educate a student in Fairfax County Public Schools, elementary and secondary education combined," he said. "Private schools in the nation were averaging less than $3,500/year per elementary-school student and $6,052/year per secondary-school student."
Therefore, said Eby, if parents were issued vouchers for their children at a cost less than would be needed to send them through public schools, "they could send them to private schools [of their own choosing] and the public schools wouldn't be as crowded."
Additionally, he said, "If the roads were funded by public/private partnerships and more children were in private schools, there'd be a need for less revenue and taxes, and the budget would actually shrink."
KNOWING HE faces an uphill battle against major-party-supported candidates in his quest to represent the 67th District, he said he's remaining optimistic and hoping for the best. Said Eby: "I'm hoping people will want a candidate that's both fiscally responsible and socially tolerant."
He believes the biggest challenge third-party candidates face is "when voters think that if they vote for [one], then the majority-party candidate they don't like will win. So I just ask people to vote their conscience and vote for the best candidate."
As far as Stafford County's Tina Kimmell is concerned, that candidate is Eby. A co-worker, she's known him 10 years and, like him, belongs to the U2 Can Speak Toastmasters club at their office in Falls Church. She describes Eby as kind, patient and a wonderful leader and role model to their group.
"He's a model of integrity and has excellent communication and listening skills," said Kimmell. "He takes in all the information and evaluates all sides before expressing an opinion. He genuinely cares and is committed to people and to wanting improvement. He's steadfast and true, and he gives things his all."
Similarly, Steve Damerell of Reston also gives Eby high marks in many areas. He's known Eby for three years through his own work with the Libertarian Party.
"Chuck is an upstanding guy — a good, neighborly member of his community," said Damerell. "He always goes the extra mile to help someone out, even if it doesn't earn him extra attention — and that reflects well on his character."
And like Childress and Kimmell, he, too, believes Eby would "absolutely" be a great person to lead the 67th District. Said Damerell: "I think he shares the views of many of the district residents that government should provide basic order — police, roads, courts, etc. — but should then get out of the way and let citizens live their lives as they see fit and keep as much of their earnings as possible."