Town of residence: Reston
Family: married to Hunt Howell since 1966, two grown sons, 3 grandchildren
Education: BA in Government, Oberlin College; MA in International Relations, The University of Pennsylvania
Offices held, dates: Virginia Senate, 1992 to present
Occupation and relevant experience: Former teacher, former legislative assistant, current state senator
Community involvement: Prior to election to Senate, I was a PTA president (Forest Edge Elementary), chair of the State Board of Social Services, president of the Reston Community Association, chair of the Reston Transportation Committee, and various other positions.
Email address: SenHowell@gmail.com
Name three favorite endorsements: Virginia Education Association, Northern Virginia Technology Council, Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club
What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?
During my tenure in office I have spearheaded several multi-year efforts to reform our laws. I was chief patron of the major family violence legislation, the mental health law reform efforts, and sexual abuse law revisions and the sexual predator registry. Currently, I am working to provide more services for those with mental illness and to divert them from our jails and prisons. Our current practices are cruel and costly.
What distinguishes you from your opponent(s) and why should voters choose you?
Given the political makeup of the state legislature, what examples from your own experience suggests you can successfully bridge the intense partisan differences there?
As the Senate has shifted control back and forth, I have consistently been selected by both parties as a budget conferee and negotiator on the most controversial bills (transportation, ethics, retirement plan reform. etc.).
In order, list your top 5 specific legislative priorities.
- Make certain taxpayer money is invested wisely
- Increase funding for education at all levels, from pre-K through higher education.
- Pass legislation to expand Medicaid or 400,000 uninsured Virginians
- Increase and improve programs for persons with mental illness
- Pass commonsense gun safety legislation such a background checks
How has your district changed in the last 10 years? What caused those changes?
Redistricting took away 40% of residents in my previous district and added 40% in new areas. Now the district includes part of Arlington and parts of Oakton and Centreville. The district is more diverse ethnically and has greater disparities in income.
Will you support legislation restricting high interest lending including car title loans?
Absolutely. I have consistently voted to put a cap of no more than 36% on interest on loans. The current laws bring undesirable businesses into our state that prey on vulnerable residents.
Will you support funding for Fostering Connections which would result in an influx of federal funding for foster children aging out of foster care?
Yes. I have been an advocate for this program and fought for it in budget conference. When the state takes children away from their parents, we have a heightened responsibility to those children. All parents recognize that children need support beyond age 18.
Do you support expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and if so, what would you do to make that happen?
Yes, I have been a fervent supporter of Medicaid expansion and have worked across party lines in the Senate to find a solution agreeable to the House majority. So far, they have been unyielding in their opposition despite the moral, economic, and health arguments in favor of expansion. I helped craft the Marketplace Virginia proposal and am currently working on further refinements of it. The sad truth is that the opposition is unwilling to compromise or to produce their own proposal.