On April 17, I sent Blue Virginia interview questions to the three Democratic candidates running for the 67th House of Delegates district (Chantilly/Centreville) seat currently held by Del. Jim LeMunyon (R) – and which Hillary Clinton won by a whopping 22 points (!!) in November 2016. This district clearly represents a major pickup opportunity (I ranked it number two overall in terms of competitiveness) for Democrats. The candidates here are John W. Carey, Karrie Delaney and Hannah Risheq. I asked the candidates to return their answers by the end of April, or earlier if possible, and the first one back is from John W. Carey – thanks! You can see his responses below. Finally, please note that the primary for this nomination will take place on June 13, so if you’re a Democrat who lives in the 67th, make sure you vote!
- 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 67th House of Delegates district in Richmond.
I was born in Bangalore, India where my twin brother and I were adopted by a former Peace Corps volunteer from Maine. From a young age, I was immersed in Democratic values and public service, and for 12 years I’ve been fighting for progressive change legislatively and through grassroots political action with a proven track record of results. After graduating from American University, I mobilized members of People for the American Way and lobbied legislators in Richmond on issues like public schools and women’s reproductive health. As a legislator, my temperament would be that I would listen to all of my constituents in the 67thDistrict and make my best-informed decision without compromising on core beliefs
- What three issues are you most passionate about and why?
First, I am committed to strengthening our economy in creating good paying jobs. I would do that by investing in public education, fighting for a living wage, and fighting for affordable quality healthcare and childcare. Second, I 100% support non-partisan redistricting. Third, I will promote public transportation in new ways to relieve traffic such as the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project.
- 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?
Ideologically, I am a progressive Democrat. My professional experience demonstrates my passion for important public policy issues. I mobilized Virginia members of People for the American Way (PFAW) and work with partners in Richmond to fight for issues like increase funding for public schools and women’s reproductive health. While at PFAW, I also helped created the Election Protection program to inform people about their voting rights, which started here in Virginia. I also organized grassroots actions in support of the Affordable Care Act. I also supported the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect consumers from predatory lending by coordinating constituency phone calls and emails to members of Congress.
- Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite current Virginia politician and why?Assuming one of your least favorite Virginia politicians is Del. Jim LeMunyon (R), what are your main criticisms of him?
My favorite is Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He has been a results-oriented governor. From restoring voting rights to felons to protecting women’s rights he has been a true champion for Virginia.
Delegate Jim LeMunyon is on the wrong side of a number of issues like full day kindergarten for Loudon County. He voted against Medicaid expansion, he’s received an “F” from the Sierra Club, he’s a proponent of public school vouchers and he’s opposed to collective bargaining. He must be held accountable for the positions and we must make the case for our positions.
- 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 and 2015 ethics reform packages, which many (myself included) have criticized as extremely weak, possibly even a step backwards in the case of the most recent “reforms.”
a) Yes; b) No; c) No; d) Yes
- What is your vision for Virginia’s energy future? Do you support any of the following: offshore oil drilling, natural gas “fracking,” new natural gas pipelines (e.g., Mountain Valley Pipeline, Atlantic Coast Pipeline) 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 am a strong supporter of the environment and support clean energy projects while providing quality jobs for workers. I am also taking a pledge in my campaign to not take money from Dominion Power. As delegate, I would fight Dominion Power and fight for clean energy of the future.
- Should Virginia be known as more of a “business-friendly” state or more of a “worker-friendly” state and why?
Virginia should be more of a worker friendly state. I am very supportive of workers rights, including getting rid of the right-to-work law. We have been presented with a false choice, we must not be hostile to worker rights and the right to organize is a powerful counter-weight to corporate interests, especially in the workplace.
- Yes or no answers. Do you support: a) a strongly progressive tax system, including a reasonable estate tax on the wealthy; b) non-partisan redistricting; c) allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity ; d) closing the “gun show loophole” and taking other common sense gun measures; e) raising the gas tax and/or instituting a carbon tax (revenue-neutral or otherwise); f) reining in predatory lenders; g) fully restoring the rights of ex-felons; h) issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and otherwise defending their communities from xenophobic attacks; i) moving Virginia from its current hostility to organized labor towards a far more welcoming, positive place for unions and working people in general?
a) Yes; b) Yes; c) Yes; d) Yes; e) Yes; f) Yes; g) Yes; h) Yes; i) Yes
- The 67th House of Delegates district is a district that was won (by wide margins) by Hillary Clinton (58%-36% over Donald Trump), Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe, etc., yet sees a major “dropoff” in Democratic voter turnout in non-presidential, non-gubernatorial years. What would you do, as delegate, to help turn that off-year Democratic “dropoff” around?
We must address civic engagement up and down the ballot, especially in off years. I am very encouraged by the enthusiasm that has resulted from the disappointing Presidential election results and we must try to harness that energy in working for Democratic candidates by listening more. We must provide a message that is clear, honest, and direct. Furthermore, we cannot simply be the party of opposition, we must provide the voters with a real choice of alternative governing philosophies.
- 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?
Virginia needs stronger campaign finance reform. We need to build on the 2015 ethics law. I took a pledge in my campaign to not take money from Dominion power. If elected to the House of Delegates, I would be an advocate for change, the current status quo is letting down working Virginians and our campaign finance reform system needs updating, so we must have a vigorous debate with all options on the table.
- Please tell us how you would 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 67th district.
As an elected representative, my number one priority is fighting for my constituents of the 67th District. If my constituents interest were not being met, I would vote against my own party. I would thoroughly explain my position on the floor, to the party, to the press and directly to residents of the 67th District.
- What is your vision for improving traffic congestion in the 67thdistrict? Do you support more transit options? a dedicated funding source (e.g., a regional sales tax) for Metro? more/wider roads? other options?
As a life-long commuter, I would promote public transportation options and new ways to relieve congestion including the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. We must use more express buses between current metro stops and park and ride facilities. We must advocate for new technology like autonomous vehicles and seriously consider a dedicated funding source for Metro. We must review traffic solutions from other parts of the country and the world and use best practices.