FAMILY: Wife, Emily; daughters Kristi, Katie and Kelly; grandson, Duffy
CAMPAIGN MAILING ADDRESS: 4 Weems Ln., # 281, Winchester, Va. 22601
CAMPAIGN PHONE: 1-800-919-0281
OCCUPATION: Sports Promoter
EMPLOYMENT: Russ Potts Productions, Inc.
EDUCATION: B.S. in Journalism at the University of Maryland (1964)
QUALIFICATIONS: Member of Virginia Senate since 1992
1. What is your top public service accomplishment?
I have carried 14 major education measures during my career in the Senate. My public education legislation has reduced class sizes, brought teacher salaries closer to the national average and increased funding for the Standards of Quality. I have been named the "Senator of the Year" by the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia School Superintendents Association and the Virginia School Boards Association.
2. What sets you apart from the other candidates in the race?
Experience. My 14 years of experience in the Virginia Legislature is more than twice as much as that of my opponents combined. A Governor with a little gray hair would benefit the people of Virginia. I will use my life and legislative experiences to hit the ground running as the next Governor of Virginia.
3. What is the one thing you promise not to do if elected?
I will promise not to let the General Assembly raid the General Fund for new programs and transportation projects. As Governor, I will fight to protect the four core services in Virginia: Public Education, Health Care, Public Safety and Higher Education. We must raise new, protected, sustainable revenues to pay for transportation.
4. What is the biggest issue facing Virginia? What should be done to address it?
Without a doubt, transportation is the biggest issue facing our Commonwealth. Virginia has gone longer than any state in the Union without a major investment in its ailing transportation system. I am the only candidate who has presented a realistic transportation plan to the people of Virginia. My plan calls for major transportation improvements statewide. New, protected, sustainable funding sources must be explored because Virginia cannot pay for this transportation crisis out of the General Fund. As Governor, I will call a special legislative session on transportation 120 days after inauguration to receive an up-or-down vote on a comprehensive transportation plan. We will begin digging dirt by July 1, 2006. My comprehensive transportation plan can be viewed at www.russpotts.com.
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 by far the most moderate candidate for Governor on the abortion issue. As chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, I have blocked some of the most overzealous anti-abortion legislation that has ever been brought to the General Assembly. I do not favor any new abortion regulations in Virginia. With a membership change on the United States Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade could potentially be overturned and kicked back to the states. As Governor, I would veto any attempt to outlaw abortion in Virginia.
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 deserve more control and autonomy in terms of revenue and taxing authority. There are only two solid revenue streams that localities are entitled to: real estate and personal property taxes. The elimination of the car tax has proven to be bad policy. The General Assembly is not fully compensating the localities for that loss of revenue. Both of my opponents have called for statewide caps on real estate tax assessments. If implemented, this policy would also be disastrous for localities. I believe that the Dillon Rule should be tweaked to afford localities greater flexibility in choosing their own revenue sources.
7. In Northern Virginia, property taxes have increased dramatically in recent years. What role should the state play in this?
The state should play absolutely no role in determining the future of local real estate taxes. The real estate tax cap proposals by my opponents are nothing but gimmicks to get elected. These proposals would do nothing but hamstring local funding for public education, infrastructure, etc. A city council and board of supervisors is perfectly qualified to make real estate tax decisions for their localities. Board members are elected every four years. If the people of a locality are not satisfied with their boards and councils, they can elect new members.
8. What do you believe the role of the state should be in determining the status of same-sex couples in Virginia?
I believe that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. However, I stand alone as the most moderate candidate on this issue. Unlike my opponents, I support the right of child adoption for same-sex couples. After all, we are all God's children.
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 am a firm advocate of public-private partnerships to improve our transportation system in Virginia. Though I am not in favor of selling our existing roads, I believe that the private sector can help the state address its tough transportation challenges — at little to no cost to the taxpayers. We need the private sector to help build new roads, not take profits on existing ones. In addition to creating new sustainable funding sources to pay for transportation projects, we can go to the private sector and possibly double our potential to create new projects. Great Britain has achieved great success in this area where a majority of roads have been built through public-private partnerships or purely private ventures.
10. Do you believe that illegal immigration is a problem in Virginia? If so, why, and what should be done?
I oppose illegal immigration in the United States. However, this is a federal and not a state issue. Injecting the immigration issue in this campaign is nothing but a divisive tactic to pander to our worst instincts. One of my opponents has introduced a plan for expanding state and local law enforcement's role in enforcing federal immigration laws — an idea that has seen significant opposition from both Congress and the federal courts. These attempts at division not only are morally wrong, but also violate the spirit of federal law and the rights of local governments to regulate local activities without interference from the state.