John Mason (R-37)

John Mason (R-37)

AGE: 70

FAMILY: Jeanette (wife of 42 years); John, Jr., Joanna, and Jeffrey, with grandchildren Kim and Nicky

CAMPAIGN MAILING ADDRESS: 3976 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax, Va. 22030

CAMPAIGN PHONE: 703-272-7468



OCCUPATION: Transportation Consultant

EMPLOYMENT: Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)

EDUCATION: B.A., University of Massachusetts; M.A., New York University

QUALIFICATIONS: U.S. Army officer for 21 years service, retiring as a colonel; 16 years as a council member (4) and mayor (12) of City of Fairfax; chair of Metro Washington area transportation policy board; vice chair of Northern Virginia Transportation Coordinating Council; previously a member (and officer) of regional Red Cross board; currently a vice president on regional Boy Scout board; currently president of Fairfax Symphony. Also the former chair or president of Fairfax High School PTSA, Old Lee Hills Civic Association, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Planning Commission.

Demonstrated track record as national consultant on regional transportation issues. Led SAIC’s Transportation Policy and Analysis Center; support FHWA on regional transportation issues; member of board (and former chair) of Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

1. What is your top public service accomplishment?

After serving 21 years in the Army, my subsequent top public service accomplishment was serving as mayor of Fairfax for 12 years. Recognizing that we had aging housing, aging commercial strips, aging schools and aging infrastructure, the City Council agreed with me that we needed to develop a strategy for repositioning the city. With the involvement of more than 100 citizens, the "2020 Plan" emerged, which became the roadmap for revitalization of commercial strips, building of schools, broadening the housing mix and modernizing our infrastructure. We moved the city into the 21st Century.

2. What sets you apart from the other candidates in the race?

In a word, experience — a proven record of bipartisan leadership that achieves real results. As mayor, I tackled the tough issues — budgets in hard times, a major tank farm leak, positioning the city for the 21st Century and providing the finest city services in the region while maintaining the lowest tax rates. For 12 years, was a key player in regional transportation planning by leading the development of the DC metro-area’s transportation vision and goals and in Northern Virginia, leading the bi-partisan Transportation Coordinating Council's development of the Northern Virginia 2020 Transportation Plan, which was approved 35 to 1. It is the blueprint for where we go next in transportation in Northern Virginia.

3. What is the one thing you promise not to do if elected?

Promise not to overuse the word "I." Prefer "We."

4. What is the biggest issue facing your district? What should be done to address it?

Without a doubt, it's transportation, traffic, congestion. It's more than a 37th House District issue; it affects every part of Northern Virginia and it is incredibly damaging to the quality of life for people who live here. We are traveling on a transportation system that was designed with the assumption that residents would commute to and from D.C. Unfortunately, travel patterns changed — today more than half of the people in Fairfax County work in Fairfax County — but the transportation system did not. We need to overhaul the system so that it meets today’s needs — the need to move around the region efficiently rather than having to use the Beltway or go into Washington. The plan already exists — the Northern Virginia 2020 Transportation Plan. What’s needed is bipartisan leadership to make it happen and ensure the related funding.

5. Is there any additional legislation in regard to abortion that you would support? Would you make any changes to the current laws and regulations about abortion in Virginia?

I am not aware of any additional legislation that is necessary.

6. In Virginia, local governments have limited control of revenue and taxing authority. Should they have more? Less? What changes would you propose?

Local governments are overly reliant on the real property tax. This has resulted in a heavy burden on home owners, especially working families and those on fixed incomes. Local governments need to be provided a broader array of tax options that will provide greater flexibility to adapt to changing economic conditions so that the burden on homeowners can be reduced. While I support increasing the options that local governments have to fund their operations so that each locality can develop the system that best fits local needs, localities need to show restraint and use these tools to spread the existing tax burdens more fairly, rather than raise new taxes. Additionally, if counties were to have the same taxing authority as cities, it should only be if they accept the additional responsibilities borne by cities (e.g., road construction and maintenance, snow plowing).

7. In Northern Virginia, property taxes have increased dramatically in recent years. What role should the state play in this?

Just as the federal government does not set Virginia tax policy, the Commonwealth does not control local property taxes. That is the responsibility of local elected officials — many of whom have not shown nearly enough restraint as evidenced by recent property tax hikes. The reality is local governments can hold down taxes. The City of Fairfax continues to have significantly lower tax burdens than any other locality in Northern Virginia while maintaining the highest service levels. That being said, Richmond puts tremendous pressure on local budgets by imposing unfunded mandates. When the commonwealth mandates a requirement without funding (e.g., upgrades to sewage plants that can cost hundreds of millions of dollars), local government picks up the tab and passes on the cost to local taxpayers. I am committed to ending Virginia’s "pass the buck" budget system and stopping the flood of unfunded mandates coming from Richmond so that local governments can better control local spending and local taxes.

8. What do you believe the role of the state should be in determining the status of same-sex couples in Virginia?

This is a state level issue and it is appropriate for the state to define the status of same-sex couples or to not define it. What is right for California or Massachusetts may not be right for Virginia.

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?

The cost of the transportation improvements needed are far more than Virginia taxpayers can reasonably afford to pay. We have to explore options that go beyond more taxes. The first step is to protect the money that is already in place by putting the Transportation Trust Fund in a "lockbox," so that gas tax dollars can be used only for transportation projects. I also support using some of the current budget surplus for one-time transportation projects. But those steps alone will not bridge the funding gap. It will also be necessary to consider new ideas that have not been used in before Virginia — HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes for new capacity, leasing options (e.g., 50 year lease of a toll road that would provide up-front dollars for other construction projects), and public-private partnership options (e.g. Route 28 improvements, Dulles rail). While I believe we need to look for ways to partner with the private sector to develop these new ideas, I will also insist that the commonwealth reserves use in emergencies, that projects are consistent with regional planning (e.g., 2020 Plan), meet environmental requirements, and, where, tolls are imposed, that they are reasonable and remain under the control of the General Assembly in order to protect against unfair increases.

10. Do you believe that illegal immigration is a problem in Virginia? If so, why, and what should be done?

Yes. Tolerating illegal immigration is an insult to the millions of hard-working immigrants who followed the law and came to our country legally. I will work with Virginia leaders at every level of government to pressure Washington to do its job and properly control our borders. I will also push Virginia’s congressional delegation to seek federal funds to cover the costs of federal mandates that require Virginia to provide secondary education and emergency room response to illegal immigrants — costs currently being paid by Virginia taxpayers. I will also support legislation that ends all "privileges" (e.g., in-state tuition, driver licensing, etc.) for those in our country illegally.