Del. Vincent Callahan, Jr. has been a state legislator in the Virginia House of Delegates for 40 years, making him the second-longest-serving member of the House. So when Callahan announced on March 6 that he planned to retire, many wondered who would be the Republican candidate to run for his seat. However, Callahan was not without an exit strategy – he asked David Hunt, his former legislative assistant for appropriations, to do the honors.
“I decided on March 7, after Vince announced that he had decided to retire,” said Hunt, who was Callahan’s legislative assistant from 2001 to 2003. “He asked me, and I accepted — he’s a real big supporter of mine.”
Callahan has served on the House Appropriations committee for 10 years and currently serves as its chair.
“I have known Dave Hunt for many years,” said Callahan. “Dave is a community leader, a talented businessman, and was outstanding as my legislative assistant for appropriations — he is superbly qualified to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.”
Earlier this year, two local Democrats — Margaret “Margi” Vanderhye and Richard “Rip” Sullivan — announced their plan to run for the Virginia House of Delegates 34th District.
Hunt has received endorsements from several local politicians and public servants, including U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th), U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11th), Speaker of the House of Delegates William Howell (R-28th), Del. Tom Rust (R-86th), Del. Dave Albo (R-42nd), Dranesville District Supervisor Joan DuBois, former Dranesville District Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn, Herndon Mayor Steve DeBenedittis and Fairfax County Republican Committee chairman Eric Lundberg.
“Dave Hunt is a man of integrity and a gifted business leader,” said Wolf. “He cares deeply about northern Virginia, and he will make a fine delegate in the General Assembly.”
Despite all of his Republican support, Hunt says that he does not consider himself to be a partisan person.
“I honestly just want to solve problems,” said Hunt. “I’m a pragmatic guy — I live here, I work here, I have family here, I have children here, and I’m a business man so I know how to solve problems and work across party lines for the good of northern Virginia. I think it’s important to be non-partisan.”
HUNT, 41, is the CEO and co-owner of Landon IP, Inc., a professional patent research and consulting service located in Alexandria. He has served on transportation and education policy committees for several chambers of commerce and community groups, and was a member of the 2001 Fairfax County land use task force. In addition, he formerly served as the Forestville Elementary School Parent Teacher Association vice president of community relations, was a mentor at Hunter Woods Elementary School and a youth leader at St. Luke’s United Methodist church. Hunt is also the former chairman of the Dranesville District of Fairfax County Republican Committee.
In 2003, he unsuccessfully ran for Virginia State Senate against 12-year incumbent Janet Howell (D-32nd). However, Hunt says he learned a lot from the experience.
“I learned that it’s really tough [to run], especially at the local level without television advertising,” said Hunt, adding that his platform has not changed. “I will focus on transportation, education and the effective management of growth and development — as I did in my 2003 campaign for State Senate.”
Hunt, who was raised in Fairfax County and graduated from Oakton High School, currently lives in McLean with his wife Amy and their two young children.
“We’ve been in McLean for two years, and we lived in Great Falls for 10 years,” said Hunt.
The family decided to move into the Tysons Corner area because of traffic congestion.
“We love Great Falls and we love McLean, but our office is in Alexandria and McLean is just a little bit closer,” said Hunt.
NOT SURPRISNGLY, solving traffic congestion in his district is at the top of Hunt’s priority list.
“Neither one of my opponents supports the transportation bill,” said Hunt. “Both have spoken out against it, so I’m the only one that supports it. Regardless of party, this bill is the biggest thing to come in a long time.”
And while Hunt is supportive of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project, he is unequivocal in his backing of the underground tunnel option for the stretch of rail that will run through four stations in Tysons Corner.
“I’m fully supportive of the tunnel,” said Hunt. “If you support the tunnel, you support the tunnel — period.”
In 2006, cost concerns prompted Gov. Timothy Kaine to forgo the underground tunnel option for Tysons Corner, and instead approve plans for an overhead track design. Hunt says he has serious concerns about the negative impacts that will be caused by an above-ground rail system in Tysons Corner.
“It’s going to be eight stories above 495 and Rt. 123, and I don’t want that under any circumstances,” said Hunt. “I think that we have to have the long view, and this would make Tysons Corner unlivable … if they build it, the people living in Tysons are not going to get through that construction, and looking out your window, you might as well be looking at downtown Chicago. It’s a situation where we have to fight really hard to make sure that we get underground — we need the tunnel badly.”
One of Hunt’s opponents, Vanderhye, has said that while she prefers the tunnel option for Tysons Corner, her main priority is to see the Dulles Corridor Metrorail line come to fruition.
“She supports underground rail up to a point, and my thought is that if you support it, you support it,” said Hunt.
Hunt said that if he is elected, his other primary focus will be to make sure that Fairfax County sees its fair share of money for education. Hunt attributes northern Virginia’s high real estate taxes to the area’s education expenses, and with a 10-year-old daughter, and a 7-year-old son at Spring Hill Elementary School, educational issues are one of his major priorities.
“In the Constitution of Virginia, it says that the State is required to pay 50 percent of the bill,” said Hunt. “The State doesn’t do that — in the case of northern Virginia, they pay about a quarter … we send so much money down to Richmond and we only get a portion of it back, and so we are left to pay for most of our education bills.”
Hunt will officially kick off his campaign for delegate on May 16 at Callahan’s home in McLean.
“I think a lot of people don’t trust politicians, and I want to change that dialogue,” said Hunt. “I hope people will look at me and say ‘this guy cares about the community,’ because I really just have a heart for helping people and I am genuinely interested in helping the community.”