FAMILY: Married 45 years to Dave Watts; two children, Cindy and Jeff; 4 grandsons, ages 5 to 10
CAMPAIGN MAILING ADDRESS: 8717 Mary Lee Lane, Annandale, VA 22003
CAMPAIGN PHONE: 703-978-2989
OCCUPATION: State Delegate
EMPLOYMENT: (Former) Executive Director, Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (1993-2000); transportation and criminal justice consultant
EDUCATION: B.A., University of Michigan, cum laude, 1962
QUALIFICATIONS: Volunteer Community Service: Salvation Army Board; Arts Council of Fairfax County Advisory Panel; Annandale Rotary. Formerly: Victim/Witness Board, Chair; Fairfax CASA, Executive Director; Virginia Museum of Natural History Board; Frontier Culture Museum Board; Washington Post Citizen of the Year; Virginia Chamber of Commerce Transportation, Chair; Countywide Co-Chair School Bond Referendum; Founding member of the Fairfax Committee of 100; Chair, Fairfax County Fiscal Policy Commission; League of Women Voters, President; PTA, President. Public Service - House of Delegates 1996- ; Virginia Secretary of Transportation and Public Safety 1986-1990; House of Delegates 1982-85.
1. What is your top public service accomplishment?
I was the only person to serve as both Secretary of Transportation and Public Safety for a full four years. In Transportation, I increased funding to Fairfax six-fold and to Metro five-fold; negotiated the private/public partnerships that built Route 28 and the Greenway; negotiated VRE’s use of railroad right-of-way; cut construction time 20 percent; and de-centralized Richmond's control by developing the first Northern Virginia 20-year plan, establishing the Northern Virginia District, and allowing neighborhoods to control cut-through traffic.
In Public Safety, my accomplishments included DNA matching; computerized fingerprint identification; 16 percent increase in state police officers; equipping officers with semi-automatic weapons and body armor; 45 percent increase in prison capacity; prison over-time cut $4 million annually; a prison literacy program; the capacity to handle mentally ill prisoners; and hazardous materials response protocols.
2. What sets you apart from the other candidates in the race?
Fifteen years of volunteer work in the community before running for office.
3. What is one thing you promise not to do if elected?
I will not stop working hard to find constructive, sound solutions.
4. What is the biggest issue facing your district? What should be done to address it?
The biggest issue facing my district is gang activity. As a member of the Criminal Laws Subcommittee, we’ve passed the toughest anti-gang laws in the nation. But, they must be enforced. We need additional local, state and federal law enforcement personnel — as well as, local health and housing code inspectors and ICE agents — and we need them working cooperatively to penetrate into gangs and convict those who drive the violence.
The biggest issue facing Northern Virginia is transportation. No solution can be off the table: enhanced transit, road improvements, VDOT management, coordinated land use, private/public financing, user fees that track inflation, increased funds to Northern Virginia, intersection improvements, telecommuting, etc.
5. Is there any additional legislation in regard to abortion that you would support? Would you make any changes to the current laws and regulation about abortion in Virginia?
I support a guarantee that use of common forms of birth control will continue to be legal, such as IUDs and the pill, that can act to prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted in the uterus. This basic guarantee was rejected by the House of Delegates in the last three sessions.
I believe that, before viability outside the womb is possible in an intensive care neonatal unit (at about the 24th week or mid-way through the fifth month), we should not outlaw medical decisions necessary to protect a woman from "a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function" (Nebraska v. Carhart). After the fifth month, abortions should be legal only if essential to save the life of the mother.
6. In Virginia, local governments have limited control of revenue and taxing authority. Should they have more? Less? What changes would you propose?
Fairfax County should no longer be forced to keep the tax structure of a rural county which focuses almost solely on real estate taxes, but should be treated as a city.
7. In Northern Virginia, property taxes have increased dramatically in recent years. What role should the state play in this?
I support a Homestead Exemption to provide a 20 percent cut in the real estate tax for owner-occupied homes. I will continue to work for a fairer share of state school funds by changing the distribution formula and by using every opportunity, as I did in 2004 when my vote for the budget compromise was conditioned on a permanent annual increase equal to almost 1-cent on our real estate tax rate. The income limit for local real estate tax relief is controlled by state law and I consistently have voted to increase it.
8. What do you believe the role of the state should be in determining the status of same-sex couples in Virginia?
Marriage is appropriately defined as the union of one man and one woman. However, Virginia law should fully recognize other unions, partnerships, contracts, or legal status which involves any of the rights, benefits, obligations, or legal status related to marriage.
9. What are your views about public-private partnerships and other mechanisms to privatize Virginia's highway system? What are the caveats you would identify as we move forward with this process?
I negotiated the first public-private partnerships. Eighty percent private financing through a tax on business properties of a 16 mile widening of Rt 28 was a win/win because it remained a public road and the private gain was viable work sites. The Greenway constructed solely with private money as a toll facility provided a corridor that wouldn’t have been built otherwise. Therefore, I believe public-private partnerships can play a significant role. However, I don’t see the long-term public gain in selling assets built with public money. The private gain is profit. The public gain is only a quick temporary influx of money to use for other improvements. The public will still pay for that influx in tolls, except that they will pay at a mark-up and with interest.
10. Do you believe that illegal immigration is a problem in Virginia? If so, why, and what should be done?
Yes. Local and state police don’t have authority to deport. Unless persons we detain have criminal records, ICE releases them back into the community. We are left with a mass of problems protecting public health, dealing with human needs, and preventing criminal activity from becoming entrenched through victimizing non-citizens and then spilling into the community at large. While I support adding state and/or local police to be trained as ICE agents, their effectiveness depends on ICE being given the resources to quickly determine legal status and physically return illegal immigrants to their country. The ultimate measure of success will still be how easily deportees can re-enter. Federal reform also needs to realistically adjust the number of work visas to identify those who have a legitimate reason to be in this country. Finally, federal enforcement of the employer’s duty to check every employee’s legal status must be applied evenly. Law-abiding employers are undercut by competitors who hire illegal immigrants and use their illegal status to pay them less.