UPDATE 7/1: Baker has announced that he is withdrawing from the race due to work considerations.
I’ve sent questionnaires to all the announced 48th House of Delegates district Democratic candidates. Given the extremely short time frame we’re dealing with – election THIS Sunday! – I’m going to print candidate responses as I receive them. Also note that given how frantic these candidates’ schedules are, I’m not going to mark them down for brevity, although obviously I’d prefer fully-fleshed-out answers if possible, and certainly at least a short response to every question. With that, here are the responses from Arlington County Democratic activist, precinct captain, 8th CD Democratic Committee member, etc. Steve Baker.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the Democratic candidates to represent the 48th House of Delegates district in Richmond.
I am even tempered and hard working as a Democrat.
2. What three issues are you most passionate about and why? What specifically have you done to further those issues? What would be the first bill you’d introduce in the House of Delegates?
Education, Healthcare, Voting Rights.
3. How would you describe yourself ideologically – “progressive,” “moderate,” “liberal,” or something else? How does your record of votes, endorsements, employment, and other activities reflect your political ideology?
Progressive. I have worked for a big health insurance company and understand the big business coldness in the business and the important gaps filled by the ACA. I have registered over 2,000 voters and helped a few have their rights restored. I am a tireless advocate for voting rights.
4. Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite Virginia politician and why?
Favorite – Terry McAuliffe [because of his] vetoes. Least favorite – Bob Marshall, Virginia currency bill.
5. If you had been in the House of Delegates at the time, would you have voted for a) HB 2313, the comprehensive transportation package passed in 2013; b) repeal of Virginia’s estate tax, which is costing our state around $130 million a year in order to benefit a few hundred of the wealthiest Virginians; c) the 2011 redistricting bill HB 5001, which gerrymandered the state and helped to lock in a Republican majority in the House of Delegates for the rest of the decade; or d) the 2014 ethics reform package (SB 649), which many have criticized as extremely weak.
I would have voted for the transportation bill although it was far from perfect.
6. What is your vision for Virginia’s energy future? Have you ever supported, or do you currently support, 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, and to fight for a healthy environment, energy efficiency, and renewable power?
I do not support fracking, uranium, new coal plants, or mountaintop removal. Natural gas plants are also a waste because gas should be used for vehicular travel until we find an alternative to fossil fuels.
7. Yes or no answers. Do you support: a) a strongly progressive tax system, including a reasonable estate tax on the wealthy; b) a “Dream Act” for Virginia; c) allowing gay couples to adopt; e) closing the “gun show loophole” and taking other commonsense gun measures; f) raising the gas tax and/or instituting a carbon tax (revenue-neutral or otherwise)?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
8. Given that the 48th House of Delegates 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 48th district for statewide and Congressional elections. Do you agree with this vision for the Delegate from the 48th district, and if so, what exactly is your plan to accomplish it?
Yes, and I am the only person running that is a solid grass roots activist.
9. Do you agree or disagree that Richmond is broken – for instance, the tremendous influence of money, lobbyists and corporations (e.g., Dominion Virginia Power, car title/payday lenders) on legislation – and needs major ethics reform? More broadly, if elected to the House of Delegates, would your general attitude be more “go along, get along” with this system or to “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, lobbyists, and special interests?
Shake things up, campaign finance reform, ethics reform, non partisan redistricting, restoration of voting rights for felons, investigation into Puckett resignation.
10. Would you be strong enough to stand up to party leadership, and even to a Democratic governor, if you believed that they were wrong about an issue and/or that it would hurt the 48th district?
11. Do you support the Columbia Pike streetcar project? If so, would you fight for it in Richmond, given the possibility that Speaker Howell et al. might try to deny Arlington funding to build this important, transit-oriented-development project?
12. Have you ever supported – voted for, donated to, attended a fundraiser for, etc. – a Republican candidate for elective office? If so, who, when and why?
13. What would you do, coming from this safe “blue” district, to help elect Democrats around the state and build a Democratic and progressive House majority?
I am a grass roots organizer who has always lived in Virginia. I am well situated to advocate on behalf of Democrats in most parts of the state.