Ahead of the June 9 Democratic primary, The Gazette solicited responses from each of the candidates vying to move forward to the November election.
Name: Paul Krizek
Community involvements: Teaches Sunday school to teenagers at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, board member of Mount Vernon at Home, an organization to support the lifetime independence of Mount Vernon seniors allowing them to age in place in their homes; member, Bylaws Committee, Carl Sandburg PTA; member, member, Mount Vernon Lee Chamber of Commerce.
Family: Paul, wife Tracey Navratil and daughter Khloe Krizek, live in Paul's childhood home on Whiteoaks Drive in the Hollin Hills neighborhood of Mount Vernon.
Favorite quote: “Anytime you have a chance to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on this earth.” — Roberto Clemente
Q. Given the political makeup of the state legislature, what examples from your own experience suggests you can successfully bridge the intense partisanship there?
A. I worked on the Hill for many years and participated in numerous bipartisan efforts to draft and pass legislation. Also, as a Housing Commissioner I was able to work with all of the Commissioners to work beyond partisanship on matters beneficial to the County. But fundamentally, I believe kindness and respect are at the heart of all important relationships, and I plan to form friendly personal relationships with as many conservatives as possible.
Q. In order, list your top 5 specific legislative priorities.
A. My top priority is securing the funding to keep transportation improvements along the Richmond Highway corridor moving along as fast as possible. I will work with Sen. Surovell and other legislators to secure the necessary funding for the next phase of environmental reviews and preliminary engineering.
Raise the minimum wage. It is impossible to live and raise a family in Northern Virginia on the current minimum wage. The 44th district has one of the most economically diverse populations in Virginia, with both extreme wealth and extreme poverty. At the very least, we need to give Virginians a raise to $10.10, and as soon as possible.
Affordable housing. Safe, decent housing that is affordable is the foundation upon which stable families and vibrant, diverse communities are built. Our economy can grow when workers of all incomes have opportunities to live near their jobs and businesses can recruit and retain employees. Affordable housing is also the key to preventing and ending homelessness.
Health Care. The legislature’s continuing refusal to pass Medicaid expansion has tragic consequences. In the 44th district almost 13,000 residents, most of whom are children, receive health care through Medicaid, which means that their parents are likely not getting any healthcare. It is a travesty that our neighbors are not covered by health care and are leaving serious health issues untreated, that without timely intervention can result in expensive and devastating consequences.
The Environment. To be a 21st century economic leader, and do something about the most serious issue facing our planet — climate change — Virginia needs to invest in its solar and offshore wind energy sources, and reduce greenhouse emissions through efficiency, education and conservation.
Q. How has Mount Vernon changed in the last 10 years? What caused those changes?
A. It was then that the county was tearing down blighted properties that were abandoned, unsafe and an eyesore. Since that time we are seeing some upgrading of the look of the corridor with new historical signage, plantings, retail facade improvements, as well as some newer redevelopment in areas like Beacon Hill Mall and Hybla Valley, for example, that is a big improvement over where it was not too long ago. The community has consistently stepped up to the challenges we have faced, from keeping Mount Vernon hospital open to pushing for the new Jeff Todd Way connector road from Route 1 to Telegraph Road.
Q. What is your vision for the Route 1 corridor? What kind — and scope — of commercial and residential development would you favor? How does that dovetail with transportation goals there?
A. Route 1 needs to become a revitalized transportation corridor that will be a catalyst for our entire community for good jobs, quality housing, better stormwater management, a reduction of traffic and pollution by including Metro stops at Beacon Mall and Hybla Valley, and one day to Ft. Belvoir. The first steps to reaching that vision are widening Route 1, installing a bus rapid transit system as well as bike and pedestrian paths, and extending the Yellow Line to Hybla Valley. Redevelopment must be done in conjunction with good stewardship of the land, adding and protecting existing green space, like the Fairchild property in the Spring Bank community. We must not lose sight of the need to keep and guarantee affordable housing for the young millennials and those working lower wage jobs, the low and moderate income who will want to be near their jobs and mass transit.
Q. Why should voters support you for state delegate instead of the other Democratic candidate?
A. I am deeply committed to our community and have a lifetime of community service and leadership to Mount Vernon. I grew up in the 44th House District in Mount Vernon, went to our local public schools, Groveton (now West Potomac HS) and Stephen Foster, (now Walt Whitman Middle School), and have a daughter at Carl Sandburg Middle School. I want to go to Richmond to help those that are struggling in our community just as I have done as a charity executive and before that, as a legislative staffer for Congressman Jim Moran, where I worked for eight years on legislation and constituent service for the people of the 8th Congressional District. I find helping people immensely gratifying and rewarding. I will always support legislation that reflects my values: making available safe affordable housing, healthcare, education and a living wage; building a sustainable community in the 44th; and protecting and enhancing the natural environment, as well as shifting to renewable energy.