In the fall of 2005, Margaret "Margi" Vanderhye was one of 15 citizens appointed by the Virginia Senate Finance committee to serve on a special bi-partisan transportation task force charged with developing transportation legislation and budget proposals for the 2006 Virginia General Assembly session. The Republican and Democrat task force members worked to produce several legislative initiatives, and in 2006, they watched with disappointment as their proposals went before the Virginia General Assembly and died, one by one.
"It was Republicans and Democrats working across party lines, and to me, it gave me a tremendous amount of hope," said Vanderhye, who serves on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. "Part of my motivation [for running] was seeing that fall apart in the General Assembly because I know we can do this."
Vanderhye plans to run for the Virginia House of Delegates in this year's 2007 state elections.
"In the midst of the breakdown on negotiations in transportation legislation, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a part of the solutions in Richmond," she said.
Vanderhye will be challenging long-standing Republican incumbent Del. Vincent Callahan (R-34), should he choose to seek re-election. Callahan has served as delegate of Virginia's 34th district for 39 years, and is chair of the House of Delegates Appropriations committee. Callahan has not yet confirmed whether he will pursue re-election.
"I will announce my decision in March like I always do," said Callahan.
Vanderhye said that she believes the residents of the 34th district are ready for change.
"The district and the voters have changed, but the representative has not," she said.
Thus far, Vanderhye has raised more than $98,000 for her campaign.
A RESIDENT of Northern Virginia for more than 30 years, Vanderhye has lived in McLean since 1984. She serves on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, having first been appointed by Gov. Mark Warner, and then re-appointed by Gov. Timothy Kaine. In addition, she was previously appointed to the National Capital Planning Commission by President Bill Clinton, and served as the commission's representative to the Transportation Planning Board for the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments.
Vanderhye is a graduate of Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, and she holds a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University and a master's degree in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Vanderhye said that, should she be elected, the constituents of the 34th district can expect "real and honest solutions" to local congestion issues, since she has a proven track record of such problem solving at all levels of government. A supporter of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project, Vanderhye would also like to expedite the implementation of dedicated HOT lanes on the Capital Beltway. On a smaller scale, Vanderhye said she would push for a variety of local transportation improvements, such as equipping signals with traffic demand management capabilities.
"I think you have to look at all the levels of an issue," said Vanderhye. "As a philosophy, we have to fundamentally link land use and transportation."
She cites Tysons Corner as a glaring example of what occurs when the two are approached separately.
"You can't walk anywhere in Tysons," said Vanderhye. "Even going from one shopping center to the other — I can see it, but I have to get in my car and drive to it. It's the ultimate auto-dependent area."
Vanderhye favors the underground tunnel option to the aerial design for the section of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project that will run through Tysons Corner. However, Vanderhye says the most important priority is getting the Dulles Metro line built — even if it means proceeding with the overhead design.
"We have to make Tysons a more walkable community, and we need to reconfigure Tysons to make it more accessible to people," said Vanderhye. "I'm an advocate of trying to put rail underground because it clearly makes walkability more achievable — but the bottom line is that we have to get rail to Dulles."
VANDERHYE SAYS that while she is committed to dealing with the monumental traffic issues facing the residents of the 34th district, she is by no means fixated on transportation.
"The one issue that is always at the top of the list in this part of the world — and that is very near and dear to my heart — is affordable housing," said Vanderhye.
Vanderhye said that she was reminded of the great need for affordable housing in the area when she overheard her daughter and her daughter's friends discussing their frustrations with apartment hunting.
"One of my daughter's friends said, 'you know, you have to be rich to live by the Metro,'" said Vanderhye. "And that says it all right there — that's not how it should be."
Vanderhye said that affordable housing is crucial to several demographics — young professionals who are just getting started, public servants such as teachers and police officers, and older residents who can no longer afford to stay in their homes because of high real estate assessments.
Vanderhye says she is also dedicated to developing legislative initiatives designed to protect and preserve the environment. Vanderhye said she believes Northern Virginia needs to make a concerted effort to limit its impervious surfaces, as they are the cause of ground water run-off and subsequent water pollution.
"Being good stewards of our environment is critical to me," she said.
A LONG-TIME community leader and activist, Vanderhye serves on the boards of the Cancer Research Foundation, the Claude Moore Colonial Farm, and Our Military Kids — a non-profit organization that provides assistance to children of the United States National Guard and Reserve members deployed in the war on terrorism.
"It's a fabulous program that's been wildly successful," said Vanderhye of Our Military Kids. "The results have been really gratifying."
Vanderhye teaches Sunday School at St. John's Episcopal Church in McLean, and is also a founder of "Project Hospitality," a program that promotes safe prom nights for teenagers.
Vanderhye currently resides in McLean with her husband Robert, a retired patent attorney. They have two children — Keith, 30, and Alexis, 27. Vanderhye said her husband is extremely supportive of her decision to run for Delegate.
"He's very excited because he's watched my frustration build over the years," said Vanderhye. "He knows I've had a long-standing commitment to the community and a fundamental passion for getting things done."