FAMILY: Six-year-old son
CAMPAIGN MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 287, Annandale, VA 22003
CAMPAIGN PHONE: 703-930-0120
OCCUPATION: IT Consulting
EMPLOYMENT: Start-Up Owner of Three Businesses
EDUCATION: Associate Degree from Northern Virginia Community College; Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech
QUALIFICATIONS: I am living the American Dream. I emigrated (legally) here from Egypt looking for a better life, and through hard work and some luck, I achieved it. I taught myself English working construction jobs, and worked my way through college delivering pizzas. I went on to earn an engineering degree from Virginia Tech, and now, I own several businesses. I understand the struggles and triumphs entrepreneurs face. As the sole support of my two aging parents, I can appreciate to the problems facing our seniors. As a father who's child is in public school, I can relate to what other parents want for the future of their kids. I understand on a personal level the importance of not only our democratic institutions, but the critical significance of personal liberty, economic freedom and the rule of law. I will put my life lessons to good use in the Virginia General Assembly.
1. What is your top public service accomplishment?
As a Christian, I experienced religious persecution first-hand growing up in Egypt. This experience motivated me to found the U.S. Copts Association and the Center for Freedom in the Middle East, an organization dedicated to the spread of democracy, human rights, civil liberties and religious freedom in that region. I have spoken out against repression and terrorism, testifying before Congress and conducting interviews on radio and television. I have advised members of Congress, and I worked on the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. I have also advised the State Department and the Commission on International Religious Freedom. And I have spoken at the United Nations on issues relating to democracy, human rights, and religious freedom. As an American of middle-eastern origin, I have spoken against religious intolerance with authority and conviction.
2. What sets you apart from the other candidates in the race?
I think I am more in tune with the people of the 39th district than Mrs. Watts is. Vivian Watts is heavily partisan and can always be counted on to vote her party's line. I will vote my personal conscience as a representative of the people who elected me, and I will reach the hand of friendship across the aisle to work with members of both parties to solve the tough issues we face. In addition, we need some fresh blood and new ideas in Richmond. Throwing money at problems may help, but it's clear that more money is not making our students smarter or our commutes shorter. I applaud Mrs. Watts' 18 years of service, but itís time for a change.
3. What is one thing you promise not to do if elected?
I won't vote to raise taxes. Despite the claims to the contrary last year, Virginia is running a big budget surplus. Our government should not tax its citizens based on how much it can get away with, but on how much it needs to run efficiently. If localities want to raise taxes, they should be honest with their citizens and not rely on increasing property assessments to provide backdoor tax increases. Excessive increases in property taxes are forcing citizens, especially our seniors, to sell their homes. We need a cap on local property tax increases and develop county budgets based on current revenue.
4. What is the biggest issue facing your district? What should be done to address it?
Traffic congestion on our roadways affects all of us, hurting our economy and stealing time from our families. Every year our elected officials whine and moan about how mean the rest of the state is to Northern Virginia, and if only those downstate folks were nicer our problems would be solved. Well, that's nonsense at best and a cop-out at worst. Northern Virginia needs to speak as one voice to get the funding we need, and we haven't been doing it. The money must also be spent more wisely. We need to over-haul VDOT and inject new ideas into our transportation planning. I support looking into some creative ideas like HOT lanes, widening of current roads, Rapid Bus Transit and pre-placed emergency teams to deal with traffic accidents more quickly (47 percent of Northern Virginia traffic jams are caused by accidents).
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 believe in banning the grisly procedure known as partial-birth abortion. I believe parents should be notified and should consent when their under-age daughter is having a major medical procedure. I also think, when a woman is making a decision that includes ending the life of her unborn child, she should be given the information about her options, then given 24 hours to process the information before she makes her decision. Those are reasonable restrictions, which my opponent opposes.
6. In Virginia, local governments have limited control of revenue and taxing authority. Should they have more? Less? What changes would you propose?
Localities are usually more in touch with their constituents needs. Here in Northern Virginia, transportation is a huge issue, but too much of the revenue collected to deal with congestion on our roadways is siphoned off to build roads and bridges in rural parts of the state. We need to give greater control of this money to the people who live and work here because they understand the issues. I think Jerry Kilgore's plan to create regional transportation authorities has merit and should be given consideration.
7. In Northern Virginia, property taxes have increased dramatically in recent years. What role should the state play in this?
The surge in property values and the resultant rise in property taxes have hit many people hard, particularly those on fixed incomes. Seniors are being forced out of their homes, and the higher taxes are putting starter homes beyond the reach of our young people. That's why I favor a cap on local property tax increases, like they have in Tennessee and Florida. Local governments need money to operate, but they shouldn't gorge on pork barrel spending simply because property is increasing in value.
8. What do you believe the role of the state should be in determining the status of same-sex couples in Virginia?
The Commonwealth of Virginia grants marriage licenses, so it, like all the other states, is already engaged in determining the status of marriage. For the entire history of our state, it has been held that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, and that such unions should be encouraged. I agree. I would not support legislation legalizing same sex marriage or civil unions. We need to protect the family and protect the meaning of 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?
If public-private partnerships can yield viable solutions to Northern Virginia's traffic woes, then I say let's do it. Toll roads can allow us to build roads we would not otherwise be able to afford, which eases traffic volume for all of us. I support looking into creative ideas to solve our transportation problems, and solutions like the Greenway from Dulles to Leesburg, may have to be part of the solution. When such partnerships are made, covenants should be put in place to insure that tolls do not become excessive, and that road repair and upkeep meets state standards.
10. Do you believe that illegal immigration is a problem in Virginia? If so, why, and what should be done?
Illegal immigration is a problem all over the Washington area. As an immigrant myself, I welcome people from around the globe to our soil. But I am a firm believer in our laws and am dedicated to cracking down on lawbreakers. With the exception of medical emergencies, illegal immigrants should be barred from receiving state and local government services, and violators need to be reported to the feds. A major factor in the increase in violent gang-related crimes in the Northern Virginia is due to illegal immigration. I propose hiring an additional 50 state troopers to pursue these gangs and run them out of Virginia.