Northern Virginia's transportation infrastructure is woefully insufficient, and despite our cries for solutions, the Republicans in Richmond seem content to offer political half-measures while our commutes grow longer. No Virginian should have to spend two-hours, or more, a day in the car just to get to work. I will go to Richmond and fight for a reasonable and sustainable transportation plan that will answer the need for alternative transit options, new roads and smart development. Northern Virginia is the economic engine of the Commonwealth, and our continued growth depends on our ability to solve our current transportation crisis and plan for the future.
The traffic problem in Northern Virginia can be solved, but it must be met on several fronts. As your Senator I will fight to:
Transportation is not an issue that will go away if we just close our eyes and pretend it does not exist. We must act now to build new roads, fund alternative transportation options and encourage smart, sustainable growth.
- Fully fund the priorities of transportation projects while working to protect the Transportation Trust Fund from being depleted by inappropriate state raiding and skyrocketing costs.
- Provide Metrorail service along the Dulles Corridor, from Centreville to Potomac Mills and along the Route 1 and Route 7 corridor. These projects would significantly reduce the strain on our existing roads and provide an accessible option for Northern Virginians to get to work.
- Support a smart growth approach to transportation planning that makes quality of life a top priority.
- The Republican-sponsored transportation package, even with the progress that Governor Kaine made with his amendments, is not the answer to our transportation problem. The bill is a stopgap measure that will not alleviate traffic for Northern Virginians. Virginians should not have to borrow from social services and our children's education in order to fund a politically motivated piece of legislation that will not solve the transportation crisis that we face.
My father suffered from emphysema and diabetes, and we were fortunate enough to be able to afford his medication. Other families in a similar position should not have to make the choice between putting food on the table and paying for necessary medication. There is another way and as your Senator I will work to make it reality. I will make the health of all Virginians a priority and work to lower the cost of routine care and prescription drugs, while making it easier for hospitals do to their work more efficiently. As your Senator I will fight to:
- Allow all citizens of the Commonwealth to buy into the state employee healthcare plan, significantly increasing the number of Virginians who can afford basic healthcare.
- Work to reduce the cost of prescription medications by building on the success of the National Association of Counties' discount drug plan.
- Expand Medicaid coverage responsibly. Every Virginian who is not covered by an employer-offered or self-funded insurance plan should have access to health insurance.
My experience in the United States Army and the National Guard has taught me the value of being prepared for an emergency. Northern Virginia's first-responders are some of the best in the world and they deserve our support. As your Senator I will fight to:
- Ensure that Virginia is prepared to respond to a disaster of any sort.
- Give our first responders the equipment and funding they need in order to continue their elite service to our communities.
Northern Virginia has some of the best schools in the nation. The quality of our schools is not a coincidence; it is a result of careful planning, proper funding and caring and involved citizens. We must continue to hold our students up as the first priority and refuse to allow those who fight against their interests to persevere. As your State Senator I will fight to:
- Increase teacher pay in Virginia to the national average. Virginia cannot attract word-class educators without offering competitive salaries. This is an essential step to improving education throughout the state, including in Northern Virginia.
- Fight the unreasonable, unfunded mandates imposed by the Bush Administration's No Child Left Behind Act and empower our teachers to prepare students for life instead of one test.
- Protect Northern Virginia's excellent schools from unnecessary, politically motivated funding cuts.
Global climate change and the threat it poses to the world are real. Virginia has an opportunity to assume a leadership role on this issue as it has on so many others, and begin to bring about positive change in environmental policy. This is a global challenge, but if we act now we can lead the charge to make our nation and our world safe from the catastrophic effects of global warming. Effective environmental stewardship is a critical requirement for Virginia's government, and as your Senator I will fight to:
- Promote environmentally sound development by offering incentives to developers to use mixed-development strategies and green building techniques as they continue to help Virginia grow.
- Ensure that the Chesapeake Bay remains a National Treasure by working to fund conservation easement programs to ensure that the land near the bay remains undeveloped and environmentally safe.
- Continue the search for creative alternative sources of energy, while making the best use of traditional energy sources.
Rational Gun Laws
Gun policy is not a political issue to me. Recent events in our Commonwealth have made tragically clear the need for rational gun laws. I am not new to this fight, I was proud to be a leader on this issue when I ran in 2003 as I fought for a common sense law to keep guns out of Virginia's bars and pubs. Now in 2007 the need for rational gun policy is as clear as it has ever been. As your Senator I will fight to:
- Ensure that the mentally impaired do not have access to firearms in Virginia.
- Require that stringent background checks for those who would purchase a gun are conducted, making use of the latest available records and in accord with all federal, state and local laws.
- Maintain the gun-free environment on Virginia college campuses.
- Make sure that Virginians can exercise their right to self-defense, without endangering the safety of others.