Home 2014 Races Applying My 8 Criteria to the 8th CD Candidates: Derek Hyra

Applying My 8 Criteria to the 8th CD Candidates: Derek Hyra

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Two Saturdays ago, I listed my 8 criteria for choosing the Democratic nominee in the 8th CD race. How do these criteria apply to specific candidates? I started with former Virginia Lt. Governor Don Beyer, continued with Del. Mark Sickles and Del. Charniele Herring, Bruce Shuttleworth, Del. Patrick Hope, Lavern Chatman, Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Alfonso Lopez, Mark Levine and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. I now turn to Derek Hyra, who just announced yesterday as candidate #11 for Rep. Jim Moran’s House seat.

1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive.

On his campaign website, Hyra discusses his views on several issues.

*Environment: He supports “[s]trengthening the Clean Water and Air Acts, reducing our carbon footprint, and fighting against any efforts to gut the Environmental Protection Agency;” “[s]upporting public transportation options to help solve Northern Virginia’s traffic congestion challenges;” and “[e]nsuring underserved communities do not disproportionately suffer environmental risks.”

*Education: He supports “universal pre-K for all,”  ensuring that “college is more affordable” and “reducing student loan burdens,” expanding “technical education, ongoing job training, and adult education programs.”

*Economy: Supports raising the minimum wage, “[s]trengthening our social safety net,” “extending unemployment insurance benefits,” and taking measures to ” create quality jobs in our communities, especially for women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses.”

*Social and Economic Equality: He supports “women’s rights and LGBTQ rights,” “innovative healthcare policies,” “[e]qual pay for equal work, and family-leave policies that provide real flexibility for working parents;” and “[e]quitable access to opportunities, skills enhancement and career development initiatives for underserved communities.”

These are certainly all solid, progressive policies. The question is, would Hyra fight effectively for these things in Congress? His track record (see below) and professed values certainly would indicate that, but given that I’d never heard of Derek Hyra prior  to his announcement for Congress, I’d like to hear a lot more about him before coming to any conclusions.  

2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values

See #1.

3. We need a Representative who will fight for the 8th CD.

Hyra has certainly been involved in his community (Alexandria), but it’s hard to know exactly how that would translate to fighting for the 8th CD overall. For instance, Hyra touts the fact that he fought for “the recent relocation of the National Science Foundation.” That may be a good thing for Alexandria, but it’s certainly not going over too well in another important part of the 8th CD – Arlington County, which is where the National Science Foundation headquarters has been located for several years now.

4. We’re going to be losing some big-time seniority and need to build it back up.

Hyra is 40 years old, so would have plenty of time to make up the seniority we’re losing with Jim Moran’s retirement.

5. We want, need, and deserve a Representative who has the highest ethical standards and who makes us proud every day.

I am not aware of any ethical concerns regarding Derek Hyra.

6. A superb, impressive track record of accomplishment over the years.

According to Hyra’s bio, he has served as “Chair of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority and member of the Alexandria Planning Commission,” as well as “on the housing and urban policy advisory teams for then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign,” after which “President Obama later appointed Derek to the U.S. Small Business Administration Council on Underserved Communities.” Hyra, an “associate professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech,” also says he “provided extensive policy expertise on critical issues such as the subprime lending crisis and community development concerns while at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.” Hyra is the author of The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville. That’s all good stuff, and I look forward to finding out more about Derek Hyra.

7. Obviously, we want someone who will do a great job on “constituent services.”

I have no specific basis to rate Hyra on this criterion.

8. I want to see a “heavyweight” in this job — someone who is a serious policy wonk, someone who really loves diving into the weeds of legislation, someone who can go toe-to-toe with Republicans and Tea Partiers (and conservative and/or corporate Democrats for that matter) in the battle of ideas.

Hyra’s an author and professor, which certainly tends to indicate “policy wonkish” tendencies. 🙂 What I don’t know is how he’d be on a wide variety of national and international issues in Congress, or how he’d “go toe-to-toe with Republicans ant Tea Partiers…in the battle of ideas.”

Overall: For now, I’m going to give Hyra an “incomplete.” He certainly looks good on paper, but I’d like to learn a lot more before venturing a “grade.”

  • Fairfax Voter

    Thank you so much for this series, which has been and continues to be invaluable, even when I disagree with you on some point. After reading the Hyra profile, and all of the others, I am writing to respectfully suggest that you may wish to retire Rule 7 — or more ambitiously, to change it to be about “constituent communications” (or perhaps “constituent services” AND “constituent communications”).

    With the exception of the electeds, it’s hard to know how the vast majority of these candidates — or, rather, their staffs — would handle “constituent services.” It’s an important good-government / management issue, but difficult to judge ahead of time. Someone who is trying to get their relative buried at Arlington and getting pushback from the Army, coming to a stalemate on a disability issue, desperate for an expedited passport because of a family member’s illness, etc., will most likely work with a staff member, not the member of Congress.

    A change of focus to “constituent communications” could encompass use or non-use of Twitter, other social media, attitudes to “the bloggers” — which have been previously noted in some past profiles — as well as things like openness to input at townhalls or public meetings (dismissive vs. thoughtful), speed/quality of response in other contexts (social media, e-mail, phone or in-person inquiries), ability/energy to be present and accessible at everything happening in the district as Jim Moran always was, and so on. Perhaps all that would be more fertile ground for crowdsourced comments and even, if you wish, something to revisit for the past profiles.

    My apologies for not thinking of this suggestion back when you shared the criteria before you started this series — perhaps it’s just too late now. Wanted to share it just in case.