Del. Kristen J. Amundson (D-44) has been doing a lot of door knocking. Even though she has been representing Virginia’s 44th District in southeastern Fairfax County since 2001, she knows that there is much more work still to be done.
“Real estate taxes is a huge issue,” she said. “The state government has not been a good partner with local government.”
As such, Amundson has introduced a number of studies and pieces of legislature to help relieve the burden on taxpayers in Northern Virginia. One of those bills had to do with revising the funding formulas; it was voted down, and Amundson said, “We need to construct it so that it benefits all — a rising tide lifts all boats.”
While she doesn’t necessarily think that the entire Dillon restriction has to be revoked, she would like to see the local government have more tools; for example the ability to vote for a 20 percent exemption on real estate taxes for certain people. She noted that Senator Bill Bolling (R-4), Republican candidate for Lt. Governor, had mentioned that he was in favor of that during last week’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“I don’t care who proposes it,” Amundson said. “I have a hallmark willingness to work with other parties. Something needs to be done — we don’t want to tie the hands of local government further.”
Amundson sees the lack of east/west access as one of our problems. She notes that all three levels — federal, state and county — need to work together to solve problems. This is being done successfully to solve the problem of the Woodlawn Road Gate closing.
“The money is there and they are just mapping the route — it’s on a pretty fast track,” Amundson said, adding, “That’s the way we’re going to have to do it. Together we can get things done.”
This will apply when it comes to handling the transportation issues that will be caused by the influx of people from the BRAC implementation.
“We will have to deal with Route One traffic in a better way,” Amundson said. “Probably some kind of rail — not Metro, that’s too expensive. We need an effective managed transit system, but have to figure out what form and who has to pay."
In the past, Amundson supported VDOT reform and co-patroned bills to bring more transportation solutions to ease the congestion clogging our community. She fought to bring $824 million to provide traffic relief and to expand public transportation.
SOMETIMES IT’S NOT the big things that people remember. Dan O’Keefe, who lives with his wife, Sande, in Montebello, remembers how Amundson helped out their daughter who was living overseas in Naples, Italy. After her wallet was pick pocketed, she was without a license — a critical document overseas. She was not allowed to drive and with two small children this was a real hardship. Bureaucratic red tape kept her from getting a replacement license in a timely manner so they turned to Amundson.
“I called Kris’ office and talked to a staff person,” said Dan O’Keefe. “They sent us a form to fill out and then they talked to DMV. My daughter had a license within 10 days. They made it happened. In our judgment she [Amundson] is just tremendous. It’s one of the really good things politicians can do. It was a wonderful constituent service.”
Lisa and Jim Demmell are thankful to Amundson for interceding with Washington Gas when they were presented with an unexplained bill for $1,300. The Demmells were aware that they owed some money after a contractor hit a gas line, but the $1,300 bill came with no itemization and no explanation. So they turned to Amundson.
“She ended up squaring it away with Washington Gas,” said Lisa Demmell. “We paid $200.”
Ironically, five years later, they have once again received a bill from Washington Gas for $1,000; they are turning once again to Amundson.
“She works hard for everybody,” said Lisa Demmell. “She’s an all-round great person and has great ideas for education, transportation and labor.”
A MEMBER of the elected leadership of the House Democratic Caucus, Amundson serves on two committees: Counties, Towns and Cities; and Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.
Before being elected as a member of the General Assembly, Amundson served for nearly a decade on the Fairfax County School Board, including two years as its chairman. In 1999, she was president of the Virginia School Boards Association. She also served on the Commission on the Future of Public Education in Virginia and the Commission on Educational Accountability.
Amundson believes in giving incentives to teachers to retain and attract the best educators to Virginia. She would also like to see the state government streamlined for efficiency and reforming budget accountability. Amundson was chief patron of Governor Warner's Education for a Lifetime initiative, legislation that sets up a comprehensive school efficiency review program to ensure that Virginia's education dollars are being spent wisely and effectively.
Regarding healthcare, Amundson said, “There are a million uninsured Virginians — we can do better.”
She liked the idea proposed by Leslie Byrne of opening up the state employee insurance program to small businesses and said that we need to look at that.
“Small businesses talk to me all the time,” Amundson said. “They are being run into the ground. We need to make it affordable for them — maybe with tax breaks? The state government can be a partner.”
On other health-related issues, Amundson fought for and won funding for breast and cervical cancer treatments for low-income women.
Several of the issues that Amundson continues to work on are close to home. She knows that moped safety is a major concern and she is currently working on legislation to put limitations on the drivers of those vehicles.
She realizes that legislation for sex offenders needs to be tightened.
Amundson is in favor of more testing for first responders. There has been a spread of Hepatitis-C, for which there is no cure. First responders are at great risk.
Finally, she would like to see an architectural study and map done of the George Washington Trail that existed from Philadelphia to Yorktown. This would be done in collaboration with the 400th anniversary of Jamestown.
Cheryl Holt is in a prayer group with Amundson, and said, “Kris is just one of the most honorable people. I am honored to have her as my friend. That’s how she is to all her constituents. You get what you see — she is the most genuine person. She is incredibly sincere and will not tell you that she can do something for your community if she can’t. It’s nice to know someone is fighting so tirelessly for our community.”
Amundson lives in Mount Vernon. Her daughter, Sara, graduated from West Potomac High School and Princeton University. For more information, visit www.amundson.org.