Home 2014 Races Videos: 48th House of Delegates District Democratic Debate

Videos: 48th House of Delegates District Democratic Debate


I just got back from the 48th House of Delegates district Democratic debate at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, hosted by George Burke. Given the short timeframe here, I’m not going to wait until all the videos upload to start posting them here. For now, I’ll just say that I thought all the candidates did well. There appeared to be around 100 people there, which in my mind is way too low. Given that this is the ONLY chance for 48th district voters to see the candidates sitting next to each other on stage answering questions, IMHO the room should have been packed to the gills, overflowing, etc, even IF it’s the 4th of July weekend. Anyway, now that I’ve got that off my chest…on to the videos, starting with George Burke introducing the candidates.

  • Rip Sullivan: This takes our eye off the ball, would oppose this. We need to focus on forward-looking, alternative forms of energy, not “traditional, old fashioned” forms of energy.

    Yasmine Taeb: Supports alternative energy, green energy. Having Domninion recover costs in advance for a nuclear power plant is not in the best interests of Virginia.

    Jacqueline Wilson: A “poor use of our resources…a promise and a prayer.” Dominion should invest in its own projects from “current sales.”

    Dave Boling: This strikes him as the “cart before the horse,” “that doesn’t sound right.” From years of working at the antitrust division as an advocate for consumers, natural monopolies need to be watched very carefully and regulated.

    Paul Holland: Business is about risk, and by requiring Virginia citizens to pay for this project ahead of time, it takes the risk away from the business and puts it on citizens. That’s not right.

    Atima Omara: Agrees it’s the “cart before the horse.” Dominion is a powerful monopoly that should take more responsibility for this project.

    Andrew Schneider: This is redistributing wealth from us to corporations. “It’s wrong.”

  • Dave Boling: Says Bob Brink has been a model of someone who’s tried to get things done, fought for issues and principles we care about. He says he doesn’t disagree with Brink on anything.

    Paul Holland: Has known Bob Brink for a long time, has played basketball against his son. Admires Brink’s ability to get things done in a considerate, compassionate way. He’s also really advocated for Arlington.

    Atima Omara: Has known Brink for a long time, has admired his work in insuring higher education gets the funding it needs.

    Andrew Schneider: You hear consistently about Bob Brink is that he is a great listener who took the ideas and turned them into pragmatic solutions.

    Rip Sullivan: Noone compares to Bob Brink. We are losing 17 years of experience. Intends to hit the ground running, has relationships in Richmond, shares the same values as Brink. Will fill his seat if not his shoes.

    Yasmine Taeb: Brink has been strong advocate for the district, agrees with him on the issues.

    Jacqueline Wilson: Cites Brink’s reputation for honesty and integrity, he’s trusted by voters of 48th district. Would like to continue that model in Richmond.

  • Jacqueline Wilson: Hasn’t studied current law, but in general supports public-private partnerships. You do relinquish some of the oversight, control that government has, there’s also a profit motive, so we need to be cautious and skeptical about rushing towards these types of arrangements.

    David Boling: Very familiar with reaching out to corporate community to support your activities. You’re almost forced these days to seek funding like this. They do offer potential to get projects done in age of budget cutting. Have to be clear on what the responsibilities of the gov and private sector are, and it’s not always easy.

    Paul Holland: Transportation is a core gov. function; everyone uses it. Public-private partnerships aren’t the answer, needs to study the issue further.

    Atima Omara: Public-private partnerships are a creative way to get funding for transportation projects. But it’s something we can do better on.

    Andrew Schneider: Transportation is a core issue, major economic issue. Works for a public-private partnership. Has serious reservations because who is representing the interests of the people in things like prisons, schools. Need to ask, is this a profit motive or a service/community motive?

    Rip Sullivan: Lots of opportunities for public-private partnerships. It’s an important part of the future in these budget times, although they’re certainly not a panacea. Also, we need to do them right every time.

    (Yasmine Taeb’s answer in a separate video)

  • Paul Holland: This is about how you approach the issues. Says he is an even-tempered, considered and thorough person, would bring that skill-set to this position. Issues like education offer potential for working across party lines.

    Atima Omara: Important to get to know each other across party lines, why they approach the issues the way they do.

    Andrew Schneider: Will do the same thing he’s done his whole career, stay true to what he believes but be willing to listen to all sorts of viewpoints. If not, how can we get things done?

    Rip Sullivan: Got legislation through a Reagan presidency and Republican-dominated Senate to create the U.S. Institute of Peace. It took a combination of commitment to principle, political savvy, negotiating ability, understanding the other side, relationship-building skills.

    Yasmine Taeb: Has experienced coalition building on bipartisan human trafficking bill.

    Jacqueline Wilson: Would build relationships, look at bills that have failed and work to understand why.

    David Boling: Very used to working in a hyperpartisan environment as he did on Capitol Hill, helped get Affordable Care Act passed. Family of 6 consisted of 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans, used to those kind of “robust discussions.”

  • Atima Omara: President of Young Dems of America, have to deal with people from different backgrounds, need to have conversations with people, find out where they’re coming from.

    Andrew Schneider: Brings together different constituencies professionally and in civic work.

    Rip Sullivan: Supervisor John Foust appointed him to chair budget task force, consistently came out with consensus reports on how local jurisdiction could address contentious budget issues.

    Yasmine Taeb: Worked with diverse group of stakeholders on immigration reform at Arab American Institute.

    Jacqueline Wilson: Worked on insurance issue with dentists and dental hygienists.  Built consensus to help improve access to care.

    David Boling: Often very contentious discussions on health care, tobacco issues. Worked to reach consensus.

    Paul Holland: Appointed in 2008 by Arlington County Board to Mosaic Park task force. Had to balance neighborhood interests, single family homes, developers, have a community conversation, built consensus and funded redevelopment of park at no cost to the Arlington community.

  • Andrew Schneider: Need to raise somewhere on the order of $80k-$120k per cycle, donate about 1/2 to 2/3 of that. Raising money isn’t enough; also need to make a connection with people, don’t just stay within the 48th district, make a cohesive case for the majority, can’t just be about dollars – need a vision.

    Rip Sullivan: Crucial requirement for this delegate is to help win back the House of Delegates. Only candidate on stage who has formed a PAC dedicated to electing Democrats. Was counsel to Obama reelect in 2012. Knows how to build the infrastructure to help elect Dems, won’t just show up and vote. Asks George Burke for $100, gets a good laugh. 🙂

    Yasmine Taeb: Raising money is important to getting back the majority. Engage communities that haven’t regularly been engaged, like the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities.  Need to help fellow Democrats across the state.

    Jacqueline Wilson: Need to help win back the majority in Richmond. Reach out to “the middle…to voters on both sides of the aisle” that might have interest in specific issues but not be “lockstep” Democratic voters. Campaign for Dems in vulnerable seats.

    David Boling: Has done a lot of fundraising. Most important thing is you have to really believe in the cause; the person on the other end of the phone line can tell. Need to start in Northern Virginia, then spread the field all through Virginia, recruit good candidates, make the tent bigger.

    Paul Holland: Fundraising in this seat is essential, but raising money isn’t the only thing. Need to be developing future candidates. Need to have a specific strategy, short/mid/long-term goals to take back majority.

    Atima Omara: Also has a PAC with the Young Democrats of America. Advocates all the time for Dem candidates. Over $100,000 per cycle from this seat seems about right; very used to call time, not afraid to ask for a buck for the cause.

  • 1. Woman’s right to choose an abortion without ANY limitations?  ALL YES.

    2. Marriage equality for all Virginians? ALL YES.

    3. Medicaid expansion in Virginia? ALL YES.

    4. Oil and gas drilling offshore? ALL NO.

    5. Increase in state minimum wage? ALL YES.

    6. Equal pay for women? ALL YES.

    7. Right-to-work law? Jacqueline Wilson says yes, as does Yasmine Taeb (NOTE: she came up to me afterwards to say she was confused and absolutely does NOT support “right to work”); Rip Sullivan says “it needs some work”; everyone else says NO.

    8. Should felons who’ve paid their debts to society have their voting rights restored immediately? ALL YES.

    9. Is Virginia doing enough to combat climate change? ALL NO.

    10. Will you support entire Democratic ticket in both Arlington and Fairfax in November? All YES except for Jacqueline Wilson who says she needs to see who’s on the ticket.

    11. Do you support Columbia Pike streetcar plan? Wilson and Taeb say “yes,” Sullivan says this deserves more than yes or now but “yes,” Schneider says he has questions about how the project is paid for; Omara says it’s a county issue first, should discuss it more, but yes; similar answer from Holland; Boling says he’s proposed a “middle way” on this (I told him in person that his way would effectively kill the streetcar, so I don’t buy it).

  • Yasmine Taeb: Supports more transit options, including streetcar and VRE.

    Jacqueline Wilson: Supports increased transportation options for diverse needs. Streetcar brings different populations into mass transit. Talks about her trip to Bonn, Germany, with all its transit innovations. The vision is “so powerful.” Doesn’t question the decisions of those we’ve elected to the “county council” (actually “county board”).

    David Boling: Says he’s a big supporter of public transportation, takes bus every day. Says he’s tried to be respectful about streetcar discussion, has never trashed it or called it the “trolley like many Republicans,” recognizes benefits but he has questions/concerns about cost. Difficult issue for community. Need to be respectful of the process, but also need to pay attention to cost.

    Paul Holland: Transit solutions along Columbia Pike absolutely necessary, can achieve many goals including helping to fund school system. Role of delegate is to advocate for Arlington’s interests in Richmond, which are defined by the County Board. If dynamic on County Board changes, his role as delegate might have to evolve as well.

    Atima Omara: Regular user of transit. Orange line down Wilson Blvd. has grown the county by leaps and bounds. Columbia Pike is heavily congested, delegate should advocate for funding – wants dedicated lane on Columbia Pike (note: I’ve been told many times by many people that this is not possible)

    Andrew Schneider: This is almost becoming the Arlington litmus test. This cannot be reduced to a yes-or-no question. Is all for 21st century transportation solutions, we’re behind the curve in this country. There has to be change. That doesn’t mean the plan as written, as yet totally unfunded, has to be approved as is.

    Rip Sullivan: Yes, this could be very exciting in terms of development in the areas. In favor of it, would help to pursue. Funding is the hard part. Federal funds should be used. May well be other sources of funds. It ought not to be paid for from local operating budgets. Will work to find creative ways to fund the streetcar.

  • Schneider: No, it’s debilitating, costly, takes eyes off prize to finding cleaner sources of energy. It’s not worth it and it does so much damage. Absolutely opposed to it.

    Sullivan: And we don’t even know its effects. We need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Focus like a laser on alternatives. Fracking takes focus off the future.

    Taeb: Does not support fracking. Supports higher gas taxes, carbon tax, green energy.

    Wilson: Does not support fracking, have to find renewable sources, reduce use of energy not destroy the environment. Don’t know impacts of fracking long-term or short-term.

    Boling: Grew up in town with polluting paper mill which brought terrible odor. Really damages psyche of people in area. Very skeptical of fracking.

    Holland: Does not support fracking in general or in GW National Forest specifically.  Fracking link to earthquakes. It’s a short-sighted, short-term solution to our long-term energy needs.

    Omara: Opposes fracking in general, in GW National Forest. Causes long-term damage, including possibly earthquakes.

  • Holland: It shouldn’t be legal in Virginia, it’s predatory on most disadvantaged members of our society. Need to look at other solutions like raising minimum wage.

    Omara: Should be illegal. Has significantly harmed African Americans, immigrants. Work towards economic advancement.

    Schneider: Says he has a car title lender in his neighborhood and he’s not happy about it. “It’s not right.” Absolutely opposed.

    Sullivan: No.

    Taeb: Should be illegal, takes advantage of most vulnerable members of society.

    Wilson: Should be illegal. Need additional transportation options, additional education/financial counseling.

    Boling: It’s really offensive, so counter to our values to lend money at 267%. We know in our gut and our heart, this is absolutely wrong.

  • Omara: Says she definitely sees nuclear as an alternative (bad answer; nuclear is wildly expensive and NOT the way to go!). Need to look at ways to build our energy resources without destroying environment.

    Schneider: Says everything should be on the table, but we also have to realize that the energy sources of the 20th century can’t be the energy sources of the 21s century.

    Sullivan: Nuclear comes with a whole host of issues, including that it is very expensive; almost certainly will not be a big part of our future energy mix. (correct answer!) Wind and solar should be where we focus.

    Taeb: Need to protect environment, supports renewable energy “by any means possible.” No offshore drilling, uranium mining.

    Wilson: Coal is not clean and can never be. Nuclear power has value, but we need safety considerations to be addressed. Supports R&D into new technologies, including air-powered/hydraulic cars (huh?).

    Boling: Says “clean coal” is an oxymoron. We should not be increasing our dependence on coal, it should be going down. We should be looking more towards nuclear (bad answer) and renewable power.

    Holland: Works for an enviro management consulting firm which has grown from 13 in 2005 to 130 people today. Coal has no future, it’s only brought poverty and pollution.

  • Taeb: Legalize marijuana, in large part because of the number of African American incarcerated for possession.

    Wilson: Also would legalize marijuana. Imprisoning people for non-violent crimes that affect themselves is unnecessary and hurts society – affects families, budgets to build huge prisons, society.

    Boling: It’s so unfair that white-collar criminals get off with a lot less time in jail than some kid who gets busted for marijuana. Would strongly support decriminalization.

    Holland: Wants to see what happens in states (CO and WA) that have legalized, would definitely support decriminalization.

    Omara: Decriminalize with hopes of moving towards legalization. Criminal justice reform. Effective rehabilitation programs. Restoration of voting rights.

    Schneider: Opposes legalization of marijuana. Believes in decriminalization. It’s a race problem, societal problem, justice problem. Need to deal with mental health issues. It’s not just a drug issue. It’s a healthcare issue.

    Sullivan: Context can be everything, politics is often the art of the possible, hard to see legalization of marijuana in VA anytime soon. First step is decriminalization. Supports medical marijuana.

  • Wilson: Ethics reform bill didn’t go far enough. When you open the door to $500 gifts, it is a door through which it’s hard to return. This is my most important issue.

    Boling: Used to very strict ethics rules when he was working on Capitol Hill. Shocked at the lax laws in Virginia when it comes to gift giving, etc. It’s “amazing.” Virginia’s reputation has taken a big hit. Need something closer to federal ethics rules.

    Holland: Wife works on Capitol Hill, financial disclosure form they had to fill out was much more thorough than what he had to fill out as a candidate. Virginia has some of the most permissive ethics laws in the country. We need to go further than the ethics reform law passed in 2014.  Will follow the highly ethical example of his father, former Sen. Ed Holland, you won’t have to worry about me on ethics.

    Omara: When you step up to serve the public, you shouldn’t looking for ways to get money out of it. Transparency is good, but we could also have financial limits.

    Schneider: Transparency is good but the law is lacking. Ethics problems undermines our faith in government, puts a taint on us all. Has to be teeth to REAL ethics reform, not just personal pledges. Offended by the “mockery” of ethics reform passed last session.

    Sullivan: The ethics reform passed in 2014 was “underwhelming” but at least a start. Should be strengthened. Shout-out to Adam Ebbin for trying to add teeth to the ethics bill. They were “no brainer”s and should have been approved.

    Taeb: What passed last session wasn’t strong enough. Should be pre-approval of trips, must demonstrate that it benefits the people of Virginia.

  • All say NO.

  • Boling: Applauds passage of bill, which was desperately needed. Example of Republicans and Democrats coming together. “Great accomplishment.” Good for Sen. Ebbin and others who worked to repeal hybrid tax. Doesn’t have specific plan for changing it at this point.

    Holland: Would have supported the transportation package, although it doesn’t go far enough. It provides more autonomy, decision-making authority to local jurisdictions. Good that the hybrid tax was repealed. Need to look on regional level at transit solutions to promote economic development, preserve affordable housing, open space. Cites example of bike lane along I-66.

    Omara: Yes, would have voted for it, opposed hybrid tax. Increase walkability, focus on Lee Highway and Columbia Pike. State/local/regional partnerships.

    Schneider: Would have supported it because a) party leadership supported it; b) it provides more autonomy to our community; c) it was a bipartisan bill that got some of what we wanted, example of compromise. Still need to do more. Everything has to be on the table.

    Sullivan: Sometimes context is everything, and in this case we had 20-year desert on transportation funding, so would have supported this imperfect bill. Sometimes the perfect can be the enemy of the good. It does a lot of great things, including regional authority (which could help with streetcar).

    Taeb: Would have supported it. Need more mass transit options, need to reduce traffic congestion.

    Wilson: Example of working across the aisle, compromise, would have voted for it. Nobody benefits from there being no transportation bill.

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