David Poisson (D) grew up in an old mill town in southeastern Massachusetts with his single mother and three younger siblings. His mother, a seamstress, did not complete high school, but stressed the importance of education. Poisson worked his way through the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he received a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in education. Later, he received his Ph.D. in higher education and a law degree from the University of Arizona. "My mother was always pushing us to get a good education," he said. "So we could have a better life. We have nine degrees between us and she did not pay for any of them." Education was Poisson’s ticket out of his small, run-down city. Now, it is a major component to his campaign for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, for the 32nd District.
AS A FATHER, Poisson said he has a responsibility to make Loudoun County’s schools better. "I have watched Del. Black over four years and a lot more could be done," Poisson said. Poisson wants to begin with teachers. "We are losing teachers. Many of them are leaving after five years in a classroom and there are many reasons for that," he said. "Compensation, the fact that they are held in a low regard." Poisson wants to change the way teachers are paid. Instead of basing their salary on the number of years they have worked, Poisson wants to reward teachers who have advanced degrees and certifications. "We have to get smart about this," Poisson said. "We can not afford it as a society."
Poisson suggested pairing new teachers with experienced teachers. "We can make new teachers more effective," he said. "Loudoun County hired 800 new teachers this year. That’s a lot of pressure on all those new people." This will allow experienced teachers to do something different with a portion of their day. Instead of spending a full day in the classroom, some part of that day may be spent supervising a new teacher in a different setting. "Teachers do not have the luxury to try something new. That is why they do not stay very long," Poisson said. "We have to put a new carrot out there."
Black said Poisson’s issues are not up to the House of Delegates, but school superintendents.
Poisson is concerned about the next generation. He wants to raise the percentage of Virginia students admitted to Virginia’s public universities.
"People living in Loudoun County expect their children to go to state schools," he said. "Over the next seven years, we are going to be short several thousands of seats. Black does not pay any attention to elementary or secondary education." He [Black] also wants to guarantee graduates of community colleges a seat in a four-year state university. "I would not be able to live in Loudoun County without my education," he said. "I would not be able to enjoy this kind of life."
TRANSPORTATION is another issue Poisson said Black neglected over the past four years. "Infinitely less is being done since he has been in office," Poisson said. He said it is extremely unfortunate that big businesses are staying out of the area due to the traffic problems. "It is a trend," he said. Poisson wants to begin with the expansion of Route 7. "We need to relieve congestion in that quarter," he said. "One way is to synchronize the signaling."
Also, Poisson wants to make a commitment to build a rail to Dulles Airport, one of the fastest growing airports worldwide. Another suggestion he made was to build a Potomac River bridge crossing. "I don’t know what we are going to do about Maryland, but we need to start talking about it," he said.
ON AN AVERAGE DAY, Poisson walks around Loudoun County neighborhoods, meets voters and passes out fliers with his campaign manager and volunteers. "I do not leave his side until election day," said Andrew Resnick, Poisson’s campaign manager. Poisson and his team walk around Loudoun County seven days a week. "We try to get in a couple of hours after work, before the sun goes down," Poisson said. "And we spend all day Saturday and Sunday knocking on doors." Volunteer Tom Beres said he volunteers for Poisson because Black always counts on a low-voter turnout. "He has extreme views."
Poisson and his volunteers have knocked on more than 6,000 doors. "My opponent does not do any door knocking. He could start tomorrow, but he would be 6,000 doors behind." Poisson also attends back-to-school nights and other community events.
POISSON believes in the importance of community. "He [Black] makes attacks on people's integrity," Poisson said. The candidate does not want to create divisions among the people of Virginia. "Black is so far right that most people in the Republican caucus do not like to deal with him," said Poisson’s communications coordinator Bob Griendling.
Poisson and his wife, Laura, and 14-year-old daughter, Kate, live in Sterling. "The most important thing is, after this is over, I am still Kate’s dad, Laura’s husband and an Eastlake Court neighbor," Poisson said.