Home Virginia Politics Blue Virginia Interviews with 30th State Senate District Candidates: Rob Krupicka

Blue Virginia Interviews with 30th State Senate District Candidates: Rob Krupicka

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As part of this site’s ongoing effort to learn more about Democratic candidates for office in Virginia, today we publish part two off our 3-interview series with the Democratic candidates in the 30th State Senate District. Those candidates are Del. Adam Ebbin, Arlington County School Board member Libby Garvey, and Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka. We presented the same questions to all three candidates, and also requested that they all return them at the same time (to be fair, so none of them knew what the others had answered). Yesterday, we published our interview with Adam Ebbin. Today, we present Rob Krupicka’s interview. We hope you find it informative, and would be very interested in your reaction. Thanks.

P.S. We will also use these questionnaires as an important part of our consideration into whether we will endorse anyone in this district, and if so, who we will endorse. We will also be watching debates and the overall campaign to determine who we believe will best represent progressive values, and of course the 30th District, in Richmond.

Question #1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the three Democratic candidates to represent the 30th State Senate district on Richmond.

I’m a husband, father and lifelong Democrat, and this race is deeply personal to me. I grew up in a single-parent home and was born to a teenage mother who often struggled to support my sisters and me. From my earliest years, my mother and my father (who I saw during summers), impressed upon me how important hard work and education are to a person’s future. No matter where people start in life, they should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. I’ve made this principle the foundation of all of my public service, whether it’s my involvement in public education to my work to build a more sustainable, healthier community for all. I believe it is the responsibility of individuals committed to a cause to stand up for it. This passion for progressive ideals is what spurred me to run for office. I was elected to the Alexandria City Council in 2003, and am now serving my third term and am a member of the State Board of Education. It has been a great honor to spend my time working to make our community a better place. I have fought to halt cuts in school spending and have pushed for the expansion of high-quality pre-K, which has led to more preschool slots available to at-risk children. In part because of these efforts, more kids in our city are arriving in kindergarten ready to learn.

Part of ensuring people can fulfill their potential is making sure our communities are healthy. I am a founder and co-chair of the Alexandria Eco-City Green Initiative, which has turned our city into a model of environmental development and earned us numerous awards. I have fought for smart solutions to our transportation problems, including increased use of the Metro and other mass transit, the use of hybrid technology, and expansion of programs designed to encourage more biking and walking to work, which gets cars off our clogged roadways. Since I’ve been on the Council, transit use has increased and we have doubled the number of people walking and biking to work every day.

I am a trained mediator and have helped find resolutions to intractable community problems, such as taxi regulations, by listening carefully and building consensus. So I know when to play hardball and when to find common ground. I think that when you believe in something, you should fight for it.

The Senator from the 30th Senate should be a progressive leader for the Commonwealth. We have to work to ensure Democrats do more than just play defense. We should have a clear voice and vision that ensures we are playing offense — that is how you rebuild and hold onto a majority. I will be a vocal advocate of the issues that make me proud to be a Northern Virginia Democrat.

Question #2. On a related note, given the fact that there are only a handful of women in the Virginia General Assembly, and also given that two leading female Senators – Patsy Ticer and Mary Margaret Whipple – have announced their retirements, how important do you believe it is that another woman replace Patsy Ticer in this seat?

I grew up in a household with a mom and two sisters. And I live in a home with a great wife and two daughters. My oldest daughter is already talking about running for office. So this is personal for me. I think having women in government at all levels is important, but I also think it’s more important to have leaders, no matter what gender, who are reliable advocates for policies that support women and families. I want to make sure Senator Ticer leaves a legacy of tireless and effective work on behalf of gender equality, reproductive rights, equal pay, and against the anti-woman agenda of Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli. I will continue to fight for those values.

Question #3. What three issues are you most passionate about and why? Also, what specifically have you done to further those issues?

Education, the environment, and progressive tax reform.

I’m the only candidate in this race with kids in public school. I think that it’s important that there are people in public life who are, every night, experiencing what parents today are dealing with in their children’s schooling. I walk my daughters Janelle and Gillian to Mount Vernon Community School, and my wife Lisa and I have been members of the PTA since before we had children. I have fought for the expansion of pre-K programs in my professional and public life because the evidence is crystal clear: the first few years of a child’s life are critical in ensuring they have opportunities later in life. I was proud to help Governor Kaine expand access to high-quality preschool. I have been proud to participate in national policy work on the alignment of early education and K-12. I believe strongly that Virginia should be the best state in the country for education. We should have the strongest content standards, high expectations, quality teachers and a strong partnership between the state and local governments to ensure this happens. This is the most important social justice, economic development and jobs issue in our state and country.

The quality of our education system will determine which companies choose to locate here and which ones stay. And it will determine our ability to compete in the world. The U.S. education system has to do a better job so that the next generation will be able to successfully compete with the rest of the world. I was appointed to the State Board of Education by Governor Kaine where I have championed improvements to our textbook process, better science education standards, better alignment of pre-k with our public school system, safety guidelines to protect students, higher graduation requirements for our schools, setting high expectations for our students and all our children and making sure our the state is a better partner with local schools in funding. At the local level, I have fought to make sure City government is better aligned with the needs of schools. Educating our kids and giving them the ability to fulfill their potential means we have to make sure all levels of government are working with a common and focused purpose to help them succeed.

Environmental stewardship is a core family value in our home. I have fought to close the Mirant Potomac River Plant and to end our dependence on old, dirty sources of fuel like coal. I co-founded the Alexandria Eco-City initiative, and I have been a leader in the fight to preserve our green spaces in Northern Virginia. I have been the primary advocate for new green building requirements for public and private buildings, for expanded recycling, for infrastructure incentives to support electric cars, for energy conservation in public and private buildings, for new water quality standards, for new development plans that incorporate sustainability practices and much more. As we see in Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax, local government has an incredible ability to influence and impact environmental sustainability strategies. One of the primary reasons I am running for state Senate is to make sure we have policymakers in Richmond who understand and will work to enhance the ability of our cities, towns and counties to support smart energy, air and water policies.

We desperately need progressive tax reform in Virginia. On City Council I have fought for tax relief for low-income residents, seniors and disabled persons. I oppose the regressive sales tax on food and I think we need a system where everyone pays his or her fair share.

Question #4. How would you describe yourself ideologically – “progressive,” “moderate,” “liberal,” or something else? How does your record of votes, endorsements, and other activities reflect your political ideology?

I am a proud Progressive. I have a record of championing investments in public education and pre-K, fighting for clean water and air, and working for a tax system where everyone pays his or her fair share. I have been a strong supporter of marriage equality and pro-choice policies, and a persistent advocate for our working men and women. Alexandria’s annual legislative package is among the most progressive in the State. I am proud of our community’s efforts to support diversity, to promote equality and to push for laws that make this a place where people have the greatest opportunities to enjoy their lives and fulfill their potential.

My endorsements reflect my work fighting for our progressive values. I expect all three Democrats in the race will arrive at Election Day with a healthy roster of official endorsements. However, the endorsements that matter most to me are the people who show up to my office everyday to knock doors and make phone calls and who will vote for me on August 23rd.

Question #5. Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite Virginia politicians and why?

My favorite Virginia politician is Tom Perriello, not just because we share a fervent belief in progressive, people-centric politics, but because of his unabashed willingness to stand up for what’s right. Although he may have lost his reelection campaign last year, at no point did he compromise his principles – and he outperformed his district and other Democrats by being relentlessly honest, principled, smart, and willing to communicate to his constituents how his positions on the issues well-represented them.

My least favorite politician is Ken Cuccinelli because he is using taxpayer money to pursue a right-wing agenda that hurts our families, attempts to deny healthcare to those who need it most and takes Virginia back to another century

Question #6. This year, Virginia politicians have been busy dividing up the Commonwealth into new legislative districts, with the clear #1 goal being incumbent protection. With that in mind, do you support nonpartisan redistricting as opposed to the system we have now? Also, if you had been a member of the State Senate this year, would you have voted to approve the plans drawn up behind closed doors by the politicians, or would you instead have fought to incorporate the bipartisan redistricting commission’s recommendations and/or the redistricting maps drawn up by university students?

I strongly support nonpartisan redistricting. The Senate has passed nonpartisan redistricting for the past 5 years, and I think it is a shame that the Republican-controlled House of Delegates has killed it each time and that Governor McDonnell failed to give the bi-partisan commission any teeth. While I understand the importance of bolstering our Democratic representatives, I believe that the process by which state and federal legislative maps districts are drawn needs to be more transparent and more fair.

Question #7. On the subject of transportation, three questions. First, if you had been in the State Senate this past session, would you have voted for HB 1998, a bill strongly opposed by “smart growth” and environmental group as encouraging sprawl and highway construction over public transit? Second, how do you propose paying for the tens of billions of dollars in transportation maintenance and improvements Virginia is estimated to require in coming years Finally, what are your thoughts on the BRAC relocation to the Mark Center in Alexandria, and most importantly, what should be done at this point about that impending transportation mess?

I would have opposed HB 1998. Bridging the massive funding gap for our transportation infrastructure requires new revenue. We shouldn’t take money from schools or other critical priorities to pay for roads, so we can’t take it from the General Fund. I will make working for a sustainable and fair revenue source for transportation infrastructure a top priority. On the Council I have supported an increase in the gas tax to bring us in line with our neighboring states along with other proposals that bolstered transportation funding. Building a consensus for a solution is going to take significant political cooperation and must be fair to Virginia consumers. I am committed to working to develop sustainable revenue sources for our transportation system. Like everyone in our community, I’m opposed to and upset by the Mark Center BRAC location and think it should have been located near a Metro. The next State Senator has to be focused on what’s next. I have been working for the last three years to bring forward-looking solutions to this problem and many of our regional transportation issues. The solution starts with the development of a system of transit corridors with dedicated lanes that can enable convenient, non-car commuting between Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington. We have to expand the capacity of our region’s bus system. All of this requires us to fight for transportation funding that emphasizes mass transit as well as sustainable funding for our overall transportation system. We also have to support “complete streets” efforts that expand options for people to walk and bike. This is a big part of the reason I’m running for Senate. Richmond needs more people who have on-the-ground, local experience in developing and implementing transit plans. I’m looking forward to working with colleagues from around the region for better policy and funding solutions.

Question #8. If you had been in the State Senate this past session, would you have voted “yea” or “nay” on Majority Leader Dick Saslaw’s bill, SB 1367 (motor vehicle title loans to nonresidents)? In general, if elected, would you always do what you believe is right or would you follow your leadership, even if you don’t agree with it?

I would have voted no. I have been working at the local level to curtail predatory lending. We need to develop fair financial services that are available to all people; locking people in a cycle of debt is not the way to do it.

My commitment is first to the people of my district, whom I represent. I believe in standing up for their interests, regardless of the position of party leadership.

Question #9. What is your vision for Virginia’s energy future? For instance, if you are elected to the State Senate, will you push for legislation like Chap Petersen’s Clean Energy Future Act? Will you support any of the following: offshore oil drilling, natural gas “fracking,” uranium mining, new coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal coal mining? If not, what will you do to fight against these things?

Virginia needs to make the necessary investment in renewable energy resources across the Commonwealth. We must place an emphasis on meeting the type of renewable resource standards that are addressed in proposals like the Clean Energy Future Act. I support net metering and renewable energy standards. I intend to focus on developing a clean energy strategy for Virginia that can align the various interests of the state towards a healthier and more strategic energy future. We need to create a marketplace that encourages clean energy innovation and takes advantage of — and encourages — the great work going on at Virginia colleges and universities. Just as I have fought to see that the Mirant Plant in Alexandria be closed, I would continue to push for an end to our dependence on old, dirty fuels like coal.

Offshore drilling presents yet another excuse to defer investment in truly renewable resources, and we haven’t seen anything close to safe technology to make drilling an option.

Hydraulic fracturing and uranium mining have both come to downstate Virginia in recent years (sadly, mountaintop removal has been present for longer), and therefore it is even more important that we have a strong voice to stand up for stricter

safety and environmental regulations.

Question #10. Given that the 30th State Senate district is a solid “blue” district, and thus a “safe seat,” it is crucial that whoever is elected has a plan to help elect Democrats – preferably progressives – across Virginia. That includes fundraising, organizing volunteers, and maximizing turnout in the 30th for statewide and congressional elections. Do you agree with this vision for the State Senator from the 30th district, and if so, what exactly is your plan to accomplish it?

Yes. I think that whoever wins the Democratic nomination in the 30th District must use this seat as a source of strength for Democrats across the commonwealth. In addition to being a strong progressive voice in the Senate, taking the lead on important issues, the Senator from the 30th must also be able to raise and distribute money to Progressives up and down the ticket.

Question #11. Do you agree or disagree that Richmond is broken in many ways – for instance, the tremendous influence of money and lobbyists on legislation – and needs major reform? If elected to the State Senate, would your general attitude be more “go along, get along” or “shake things up?” Please be as specific as possible in your answer. For instance, would you support campaign finance reform that sharply curtails the power of corporations and powerful special interests?

Richmond is broken. I have a reputation for pushing for new ideas and pushing for innovative, transparent policies that take our community in new positive directions. On City Council, I developed and successfully pushed for new campaign finance rules, more transparency throughout the annual budget process, and greater use of online technology to interact with residents, including the use of Facebook, public forums and online messages to staff. As a Senator, I will support campaign finance reforms, strict ethics rules, and increased transparency, including recorded votes at every level – including in sub-committees – and publicly available streaming video of as much of the legislative proceedings as is technologically possible.

  • from the Krupicka campaign:

    Today, the Krupicka for State Senate campaign announced the support of five former members of the Alexandria City Council: Tim Lovain, Justin Wilson, Ludwig Gaines, Lonnie Rich, and former Delegate David Speck.

    “We need more people in Richmond that understand our transportation issues at the neighborhood, quality of life-level and understand the role of local government in fixing them” said Lovain.

    Gaines praised Krupicka saying “His knowledge of our community and his willingness to help others develop new ideas will be a huge asset for our community and state.”

    “Rob’s combination of local government experience and knowledge of state government will make him uniquely successful in serving Northern Virginia from day one.” added Former Delegate Speck.

    “These fine individuals have decades of public service between them, and they know as well as anyone the importance of understanding policy at the local level”, responded Krupicka, “I am honored to receive their endorsement, and I hope to be the sort of legislator in Richmond that makes them proud.”

  • kindler

    I particularly appreciated his comments about being a progressive leader, and on smart growth and sustainability. He is the one of the three about whom I know the least, so thanks for the interview, Lowell — it helps.