Pictures of family, friends and former employees line the walls to Del. Dick Black’s office. At the bottom of the stairs, 7-month-old Douglas Chaplow greets volunteers and visitors. His mother, Callie Chaplow, is Black’s legal assistant and helps with the campaign. She picks him up and he waves hello. The office cheers, and so, he does it again. "He is coming with me to Richmond next year, if we win," Chaplow said.
Chaplow passed Douglas to Meghan O’Malley, a high-school, home-schooled, senior from Reston. O’Malley has worked for the 32nd District’s delegate since 2003, after she received an e-mail from Black’s former campaign manager, a fellow home-school student, asking if anyone was interested in working for the delegate. "He’s so welcoming, accepts everyone, and he loves home-schoolers, which is a plus," O’Malley said. "And he has the same values that I do. He is pro-life, which is totally important. Life begins at conception and a lot of people do not believe that. He has made it an absolute goal of his to protect those lives."
O’Malley sits directly across from Black’s daughter and campaign manager, Michelle Staton. She is pregnant and describes herself as a jack-of-all-trades around the office.
"This is a family business," Black said. "We are always equipped with Pampers and baby wipes. They are part of our office supplies."
Black will run in his eighth contested race, this November, against Democratic candidate David Poisson. "Every year I cast at least 3,000 votes," he said. "I’m very direct on my position on issues. Nobody really knows what the challenger thinks."
Black chose to focus on three major issues for this year’s election, education, transportation and "good family values," he said.
"LOUDOUN COUNTY TEACHERS get paid 19 percent more than the national average," Black said. "One hundred percent of our schools meet national standards and our SAT scores are ahead of the national average. I’m not sure what Mr. Poisson finds wrong with our school system."
A recent flier distributed by Poisson for Delgate stated Black voted against teacher salaries, HB 5018 (2004). "I voted for HB 292 (2004,) which was intended to raise teacher pay. House bill 5018 is a massive tax bill. His voter guide is demonstrably untrue. He simply put in a fake number, knowing most people will not look it up."
In response, Poisson said he acknowledge the mistake and made changes before he distributed them at Sugarland Elementary School. "We had the wrong bill number, but we fixed it," he said.
For the upcoming year, if elected, Black plans to keep class sizes small and maintain the system as it is. "We have 22 students per class in our elementary schools, our schools are mostly brand new and our buses are almost brand new," he said. "Teachers are the second highest paid in Northern Virginia."
Black also wants to see the completion of a George Mason University campus on Route 50, serving 4,000 students. "This is a young district, population-wise," he said. "There are a lot of students graduating, who want to stay close to home. This is going to be a major center for education."
Transportation is another important issue to Black. "I’ve passed five bills that raised over millions of dollars for construction," Black said. He is currently working on plans for Route 7, to eliminate some of the traffic lights causing congestion. "I want to clear some of the impediments of traffic flow on Route 7," he said. He also wants to make major improvements on Belmont Ridge Road.
AN AVERAGE DAY includes visits from constituents and volunteers. "This is an active, robust office," he said. "We still have constituent service. We deal with personal problems, state agencies, collecting child support. All things have to be dealt with whether we are campaigning or not." Black also plays a role in other campaigns around the state. "We want people of good morals, integrity, to represent the voters." At night, he gets out of the office to attend events through out the community, like back-to-school nights.
On Monday night, Black attended a Marriage Summit at McLean Bible Church, where community members gathered to discuss the "constitutional amendment Virginia will vote on, to preserve traditional marriage as one man and one woman," Black said. "If you look back to last year’s election, people were concerned with values."
BLACK IS EXTREMELY vocal about his pro-life views. "I think that abortion is a great threat to the future existence of our nation, he said. "I’m extremely pro-life.
Black said, he and his opponent share very different views on many issues. "My opponent was once chief of staff for Senate Minority Whip Dick Durban, whose record is indistinguishable from Ted Kennedy’s or Hillary Clinton’s," Black said. "I could not conceive working for someone as radical as Dick Durban." He also mentioned that he received a 100 percent rating from The Family Foundation. The Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Foundation endorsed his opponent. "Our views are quite different," he said. "Nobody really knows what the challenger thinks, where he stands on the death penalty or the gas tax."
Poisson and Black actually share the same views on both issues. "I support the death penalty and I do not think there is any possibility of a tax, given the cost of gasoline," Poisson said.
Black is one of the principal supporters of the death penalty in Virginia. "I believe, if a man tortures, rapes or murders a child, the only justice is to take his life in exchange," he said. "And for people to equate the most innocent lives with the most evil butchers is an affront to human logic. I think it is inexcusable that we take lives of precious children. Yet, the same people who defend abortion will fight for the lives of men who kidnap and torture women to death."
Black said his views reflect the Loudoun County community. "I stay very closely in tune with the voters, and sometimes that puts me at odds with powerful people," he said. "When all is said and done, my views are sort of mainstream, heartland, Republican views," Black said.