When asked why he’s running for reelection to the General Assembly, Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th) has a ready reply.
“It’s an honor to serve,” he said. “We have an opportunity to help people improve their day-to-day lives and fix the problems in their neighborhoods and on their streets.”
When Hugo first ran for the House, he and wife Paula only had two children. The Clifton residents now have four—Katie, 15; Chris, 13; Matt, 8 and Jackie, 6—and he’s vying for his seventh term in office. He attributes his political success to his focus on quality-of-life issues where people live.
For example, he helped get Virginia Run’s roads re-lined and helped both Fairfax Station and Centreville’s Gate Post Estates community get more reliable electricity.
“We also got $15 million for the George Mason [University] bypass to take traffic off the Braddock and Ox roads intersection,” said Hugo. “Hopefully it’ll be done in December or January. A constituent wrote me about traffic backing up there and we had a town hall meeting.”
REGARDING HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS during the last session, he’s proud that he helped pass a law making human trafficking a felony. “Before, it was a misdemeanor to traffic a minor,” he said. “The penalties were low and the profits were high.”
Hugo said gangs dealing drugs are now involved in human trafficking, so Virginia also passed a bill to make it an offense punishable by prison time. “We’ve gone from some of the weakest laws in the nation to some of the toughest,” he said. “It was a bipartisan effort and I’m pleased that we were able to do it. I’ve got young kids, and this is happening to young boys and girls. We worked with national organizations on this and we’ve made a big difference.”
He also helped pass a law dealing with the test for Lyme disease. “Many times, the test produces false negatives,” said Hugo. “So we made it a law that doctors have to tell people this could happen, so they’ll keep monitoring it. GMU’s working on a better test and we’re excited about it and will try to get them some money for it.”
He said the number one transportation project for Northern Virginia is to improve the intersection of Route 28 and I-66, so he’s seeking more funding for this problem, as well, to get it on a faster track. “It could lessen congestion all the way up and down I-66 because people back up there on I-66, going both ways,” said Hugo. “It would help the flow of traffic from Arlington to Fauquier County.”
He’s currently working on it with Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67th) and Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37th). “We’d like to see the preliminary engineering starting this year,” said Hugo. “I think we can work with the CTB [Commonwealth Transportation Board] and the next governor to push this project higher on the priority list.”
Hugo says his experience in the House is an asset in achieving his goals. “I’m chairman of the Republican caucus and am now number three in leadership, and I can use that position to help Northern Virginia and my district in Fairfax and Prince William counties,” he said. “I’m also on the Commerce and Labor, Finance and Transportation committees.”
Commerce and Labor focuses on jobs and creating and fostering a good business environment in the state. And just recently, Forbes magazine called Virginia the best state in the nation to do business.
“That’s because we take an evenhanded approach to taxation and regulation to protect businesses and consumers,” explained Hugo. “We try to keep taxes reasonable, low and evenly applied. [Doing so] creates predictability and a stable environment. Over the past few years, McDonnell Douglas, Northrop Grumman and Hilton moved their headquarters here because of the tax structure and stable business environment.”
IN HIS PRIVATE LIFE, Hugo runs the Free File Alliance, which provides free, federal tax returns for low- and moderate-income people. “We did about three million [returns] last year and almost 36 million in the past decade,” he said.
Hugo said his door’s always open to any group or individual and he’s endorsed by a broad, cross section of groups because “I try to reach out and find common ground with others. In Richmond, we try to find a compromise and largely get along.”
For example, he said, when constituents Lu Ann McNabb and Greg Richter of Angel Fund asked him to help pass a mental-health bill “to make colleges work better with local organizations so we don’t have a problem like we had at Virginia Tech,” he did. “[Sen.] Chap Petersen [D-34th] and I worked together to get it passed.”
Hugo’s endorsements include the Virginia Fairfax and Prince William education associations, the Fairfax County and state Firefighters Union, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Fairfax County and Virginia Chambers of Commerce, Virginia Police Benevolent Assn., Virginia Association of Realtors, Northern Virginia Technology Council, Virginia Bankers Assn. and the Virginia Credit Union League.
Looking forward, he wants to work with Shared Hope and the Polaris Project to continue to strengthen Virginia’s sex-trafficking laws “to increase the penalties for those who’d hurt our kids. It’s something that tears at your heart.”
Hugo also wants to lessen some of the regulations and restrictions on businesses here to promote job and business growth. He also plans to work with police and firefighters statewide “to make sure their families are taken care of after line-of-duty deaths.”
He said Virginia must “help kids with intellectual disabilities and help their families get services for their children. And I want to find some money for Angel Fund.”
Hugo believes government has a role in transportation, education, public safety and “helping those who can’t help themselves. A couple years ago, I was the deciding vote to force insurance companies to cover kids with autism. It was a huge fight in Richmond, but I introduced and spoke on this bill. I try to pick and choose the issues and look at them on their own merit.”
Regarding education, he said, “I’ve worked closely with my General Assembly colleagues and Governor McDonnell to increase by 14,000 the number of new slots for in-state undergraduate students at Virginia's colleges and universities.” And he plans to continue this fight.
“I hope people will give me another opportunity to serve them,” said Hugo. “I just try to make government work for folks; and I believe that, if I focus on that, it’ll all work out at election time.”