Time for Change?

Time for Change?

Rip Sullivan announces his candidacy for the Virginia House of Delegates 34th District.

Richard "Rip" Sullivan has lived and worked in McLean for the last 32 years, and for all 32 of those years, Del. Vincent Callahan (R-34) has represented him at the Virginia General Assembly. That is why Sullivan decided to run against Callahan.

"My opinion is that after 40 years, it's time for a change," said Sullivan, as he announced his candidacy for the 34th District of the Virginia House of Delegates at his home in McLean last week. "My opponent is a powerful guy — as chair of the Appropriations committee, he holds the third most powerful position in the General Assembly — but I think we have the right, and I think we have the duty to ask, what are we getting for that power?"

Del. Vincent Callahan (R-34th) is the longest serving Republican in the Virginia legislature, having first been elected in 1967. Callahan has yet to confirm whether or not he will seek re-election this year.

"I'm going to make a decision in March as I always do," said Callahan.

Democrat Margaret Vanderhye, a McLean resident, will also run against Callahan this fall.

Friends, family, neighbors and supporters gathered at Sullivan's home for his campaign kick-off last Thursday evening, Jan. 4. Del. Steve Shannon (D-35) was among those in attendance, and said that although Democrats have now secured 40 seats in the Virginia General Assembly, it is "still not enough for them to get everything done."

"One of the things that really impressed me about Rip is his fundamental belief in contributing back to the local community," said Shannon. "We need help down in Richmond, and this is exactly the type of leader that we need."

Sullivan and his wife Beth are both 1977 graduates of Langley High School. They reside in McLean with their four children — daughter Corey, and sons Ryan, Jack and Joey. Rip Sullivan graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College in 1981, and is a 1987 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. He is currently an attorney with the international law firm Reed Smith LLP, and has been a practicing litigator in Northern Virginia for 20 years.

PRIOR TO becoming a lawyer, he directed the effort to create the United States Institute of Peace, which is dedicated to researching and teaching new and creative ways to resolve international conflict. Sullivan said that he believes his previous work experience contributes to his strength as a candidate.

"Yes, let's send more Democrats to Richmond, but we also need to get beyond the politics, and make compromises and get legislation through," said Sullivan. "We need to find a way to get rid of some of that rancor, and I did this in my career – I found ways to solve disputes in a positive and productive manner."

Sullivan was appointed to the Fairfax Consumer Protection Commission by the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Gerald Connolly, and was appointed to the Virginia Civics Commission by Gov. Timothy Kaine. He also served for 10 years on the Board of Legal Services of Northern Virginia, an organization that provides free legal representation to the area's less fortunate residents, and for 10 years as vice chairman of the Board of Directors of Homestretch, Northern Virginia's largest transitional housing organization.

Sullivan has served for 15 years on the Virginia State Bar/Virginia Bar Association Joint Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution, and is also the current committee chair. In addition, he currently serves on the Fairfax Bar Foundation Board and the Virginia State Bar Access to Justice Committee.

Sullivan said that Virginia constituents are caught in the crossfire of conflict between Democrats and Republicans, and the crossfire of conflict within the Republican party.

"I think what's going on in Richmond is shameful," said Sullivan. "We've got too many people worrying about who is getting credit."

Sandy Thomas, Sullivan's law partner and friend, said that he thinks "it's time for a change in leadership in the 34th District in Virginia."

"I personally cannot think of anybody with more commitment, more energy and more principle than Rip Sullivan," said Thomas.

However, according to Callahan, Reed Smith law firm is a contributor to Callahan's campaign.

"In fact, they contributed $1,000 in the last 30 days," said Callahan. "Rip Sullivan is a partner there, so I'm not sure where he's coming from on that."

AS SULLIVAN announced his candidacy, he expressed concerns about the lack of funds for new projects in the state in the coming year. Sullivan noted that although the Virginia General Assembly had identified $108 billion in unmet state needs, there will be less than $1 billion available for new state projects after the $3.8 billion designated for transportation is spent.

"You have to ask yourself, what about the next 11 years?" said Sullivan. "Where is that going to come from?"

Highlighting each of his four children, Sullivan pointed out how their personal situations have inspired him to make a difference. His eldest daughter Corey is currently in college and plans to become a teacher, but is afraid that she will not be able to work in Fairfax County because she will be unable to afford the high cost of housing. Last year, his son Ryan suffered an accident that reminded Sullivan of the fact that over 1 million Virginians are currently without health insurance. Jack, his third youngest, is a science and computer tech ace, who inspires Sullivan to think of how Virginia can stay on the cutting edge of modern science and environmentalism. And 10-year-old athlete Joey Sullivan is a "one-man transportation crisis" who illustrates the fact that Northern Virginia's congestion problem "affects our day-to-day lives, not just our commuter lives."

Sullivan concluded by reminding his supporters that if he is elected, he will view the issues at hand "through the prism of parenthood."

"I think that legislators ought to be asking themselves, 'how is this going to affect the next generation?'" said Sullivan. "How would I explain this to my 10-year-old? Because if I can't explain it to him, I can't explain it to anyone."