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Votes

Constituents Speak

Residents Focus on Transportation and Public Services

Sen. Bill Mims (R-33) welcomed Loudoun County residents to speak before the Loudoun delegation to the General Assembly Thursday, Jan. 5, in Leesburg. Del. Chuck Caputo (D-67), Del. David Poisson (D-32), Del. Joe May (R-33) and Del. Thomas Rust (R-86) listened to approximately 25 constituents speak on issues like traffic, education and the quality of life.

"It was very encouraging to see so many people show up at the public hearing," Caputo said. "And they spoke on a wide range of subjects."

CAPUTO SAID the biggest issues the Loudoun delegation faces are transportation and education, as well as improving the quality of life.

"We need to find solutions to the transportation problems and determine how to fund them," Caputo said. "We also need to provide more dollars for public education, K through 12 and also at the college level."

Eleanor Baldish is the mother of a child with Down Syndrome. She is also a member of the Loudoun Association of Retarded Citizens, LARC. Baldish asked the Loudoun delegation to support funds for community-based services.

"Fund early intervention services," she said.

Many Loudoun County residents who are handicapped are living with the elderly or terminally ill and need to be placed in assisted living homes, but cannot afford it, Baldish explained.

Caputo would like to see more dollars being spent to improve Northern Virginia's health services.

"There is no question about it. We need to put more dollars toward services helping people with mental illnesses," Caputo said. "That is going to happen."

MARK GUNDERMAN, a volunteer for Good Shepherd Alliance, a nonprofit organization, spoke on behalf of homeless and low-income families in Loudoun County.

The average price for a two-bedroom apartment in Loudoun County is more than $2,000, Gunderman said. The annual income is greater than $40,000 a year.

"Eleven percent of households make less than $30,000 a year," Gunderman said. "Twenty-five thousand people can't afford a two-bedroom apartment in Loudoun County."

Gunderman said many families are forced to double or triple up in an apartment to make rent. In 2004, the Good Shepherd Alliance turned 600 people away due to lack of space and turned their office into a temporary shelter.

"Be conscious of the poor that live among us. … Please be good Samaritans," Gunderman said.

Mims thanked Loudoun County residents for attending the public hearing. "These truly are our marching orders," said Mims, who will resign as state senator Jan. 11.