Voters this November will see a familiar name on the ballot again. Chuck Caputo is running for his second term as 67th district chair in the Virginia House of Delegates, and his plan of action is, in his words, "To continue to get legislation in action that brings greater funding to Northern Virginia."
Like most candidates this political season, the campaign sights are set on transportation, education and taxes. What makes Caputo stand apart from the rest? He would say it's his "experience," and goal to improve what he calls the "quality of life."
MARRIED TO WIFE Barbara, Chuck Caputo has lived in the Northern Virginia area for more than 40 years, with more than 20 years in the 67th district. A member of the Folkstone community, he has a long career in governmental work layered with community involvement.
"It started by getting active in the civic association in Greenbriar," for which he was president. "I was active in the PTA, active with my kids in the recreational leagues," he said. "You get involved by being a coach, parent, official, etc. ..."
His experience doesn't end there though; he was vice president of the Greenbriar PTA, on the Fairfax County School Board, and vice president of the PTA for the magnet school Thomas Jefferson High.
Currently he serves on the Northern Virginia Community College Board of Directors. While there, he co-sponsored the Community College Transfer Assistance Grant. This grant would help students with financial needs with tuition at a transfer college if they achieved an associates degree at NVCC — a major step in providing quality education for those who can't afford it. He hopes that next year it will be improved upon and get an increased sum of money for students entering their third and fourth years of college.
All of this may seem a bit off from someone who graduated from the City College of New York with an electrical engineering degree, and George Washington University with a masters in science and systems management. A former employee of the FAA for four years, and 34 years with the Defense Information Systems Agency, he considers it all to be a part of staying active in his community.
WHERE DOES he stand on the issues facing the 67th district? That's what he considers his plan to improve upon the "quality of life." This means transportation, economic infrastructures, and funding of public education.
"I'm very concerned with improving this area; we have a good one, but it could be better," said Caputo.
When it comes to transportation, he is very straightforward in pointing out that half is good, but not enough.
"Transportation is a great need, we have a solution; we passed a transportation package which includes a Northern Virginia package of $400 million for mass transit and roads," he says. "However it doesn't meet the requirement for Northern Virginia roads and transit. Eight hundred million is needed, but you have to start somewhere."
So how does one go about nabbing more tax dollars for the Northern Virginia area from Richmond?
Says Caputo: "Convince them that providing dollars to Northern Virginia is good for the rest of Virginia. We have to continue to build the economy up here, which means we provide more jobs in this area. What I will try to do in talking to the legislators is tell them when our economy is good, it helps with theirs. If business is good here then the suppliers of materials and assemblies, etc., are built and created in various parts of the state, thereby increasing business in their parts of the area. If they want to help us succeed they need to help us pass legislation to enable us to achieve our requirements up here. It's a tough argument to sell, but it makes sense to me."
He adds: "I can apply myself on a full-time basis, I have no 40-hour-a-week job, and I can devote my full time and effort to representing these people in this district."
Jim Conrad, who's lived in the Oakton area for 23 years and known Chuck for over 30, says, "Chuck is one of the most honest and personable people I've ever met. He wants to compromise; get along with everyone for what's best for Virginia. Everywhere we go he runs into someone he knows. We always joke with him and ask, 'So Chuck who are you going to run into tonight?' and he always does."
Gina Latcheran, who's lived in Poplar Tree Estates for 20 years, met Caputo two years ago when he was walking around knocking on doors for his campaign. She describes him as "just a delightful man and just seemed to be a man who knew some of my neighbors, it was a very comfortable meeting. All of a sudden I started realizing ... every time I turned around he was [at community events]. My son, Eric, 20, who is a part of Best Buddies, calls Chuck his 'Best buddy politician' ... whenever there's any kind of fund-raiser Chuck is always there, or wishes he could be there."
OVER TIME, Chuck and Eric formed a special kind of bond, according to Latcheran, and Caputo's involvement with those with special needs grew accordingly.
Kathy Smith, who met Chuck while she was running for the Sully District School Board in 2001, speaks highly of Caputo's involvement with the community.
"I look at Chuck as somebody who has lived in this community for so long and is so embedded in it ... He understands our needs and will fight to make sure that we keep the quality of life we have here," she said.
"What I respect about Chuck is that he's a representative for all the people. He listens, he's thoughtful, and he understands life in our community because he's been dedicated to it for years and years."