38th House of Delegates Interview: Kaye Kory

Monday, April 13, 2009

I sent out identical questionnaires to both Democrats - Del. Robert Hull and challenger Kaye Kory - running for the Democratic nomination in the 38th House of Delegates district (Fairfax County - Mason and Providence magisterial districts). I heard back almost immediately from the Kory campaign, which said it would be happy to answer my questions. I did not hear back from the Hull campaign, so I emailed Del. Hull again and still didn't hear back. I am assuming this means he is uninterested, for whatever reason, in responding to my questionnaire. That's unfortunate, but thanks to Kaye Kory for being so responsive. Here are her answers.

1. Why, in your own words, have you decided to run for election/reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates from the 38th district at this time? What specific qualifications do you bring to the table?
I’m running for the House of Delegates to give the 38th District the representation we deserve. It’s time for a change in Richmond. We need a delegate who will be proactive, problem solving, results oriented, responsive to her constituents, and committed to working with other Democrats to make change the 38th district can be proud of.

I have been the elected Mason District Fairfax County School Board member for the past ten years. In that position I’ve been responsible for managing difficult budgets, keeping focused on both fiscal responsibility and ensuring that Fairfax County schools remain the best schools in the country. The health of the public schools has a significant impact on property values and quality of life in our community – it’s a vital issue that cuts across many other critical issues. My time as the Legislative Committee Chair and the State Legislative Liaison has given me insight into the lack of true partnership between state and local governments, a partnership that is seriously impeded by literal interpretation of the Dillon Rule.

My successful tenure on the Fairfax County School Board and my first hand experience with the issues that arise when the state government works above, not along side localities are an important part of my qualifications for representing the 38th District.

2. How would you describe your political philosophy - progressive, moderate, conservative, or - to paraphrase Jim Webb - "the old political labels no longer apply?"
The old political labels really don’t apply to the work being done in Richmond. However, there are core Democratic values and principles that have always been my philosophical foundation.

Being a Democrat is about many different things. Core Democratic values lead to a government that prides itself on transparency and accountability, not one that shies away from it. They lead to investing in our community and protecting the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens. They lead to investing in our future by ensuring affordable healthcare, especially for Virginia’s children, protecting access to a high quality pre-K through 12 public education, increasing access to post-secondary career development and graduate education, and making clean air and clean water the norm, not the exception, for future generations.

We cannot ensure equality of outcome for all citizens, but my political philosophy is rooted in ensuring equality of opportunity and access to the institutions which offer a path to a prosperous and fulfilling life.

3. What is your attitude regarding bipartisanship, aka "reaching across the aisle?" Is this a high priority for you, or are you more interested in pushing hard for what you believe over compromising with conservative Republicans in the House of Delegates?
I will be dedicated to getting results and solving problems not related to partisan politics or points of view. The development of a functioning transportation system and strong state infrastructure shouldn’t be about partisanship, it should be about meeting the needs of all Virginians. That said, bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake is silly. I will bring the progressive, Democratic values of the 38th district to Richmond and fight for them. I think voters are ready for real solutions, grounded in our shared values.

4. If elected/re-elected, what would your top three priorities be when you get to Richmond? Why these and not others?
My top three priorities will be:

* Protecting Pre K through 12 education as I have on the Fairfax County School Board for the past ten years.
* Increasing cooperation between local leaders and Richmond to find real solutions to our economic and transportation problems
* Fighting for our most vulnerable citizens by working to eliminate the state sales tax on food and by expanding access to preventative health care services

These are some of the most pressing issues in my district, and finding solutions to them ensure the protection of the quality of life of everyone in the 38th.

5. What is your position on Dillon Rule , which severely limits the power of local government vis-à-vis the state? Should it be weakened to allow a progressive place like the 38th district to move ahead on things like human rights, energy efficiency, environmental protection, and other areas?
The Dillon Rule is antiquated and dysfunctional. We need a more flexible and thoughtful approach to governance and problem solving. As a member of the Fairfax County School Board I experienced first hand the problems that arise when local elected officials and leaders are not involved in the legislature’s decision making process. There is no “one size fits all” solution to the Commonwealth’s problems, which is why local input and control is so valuable. What works in Danville may not be what will work in Fairfax, and we should have the option to pursue different approaches.

These uncertain times bring to light the differences between localities, which is why the literal approach the Legislature takes to applying the Dillon Rule is key to solving problems in the 38th District and beyond.

6. What will you do to fix the traffic mess in Northern Virginia? Specifically, what is your stance on "smart growth," extending Metrorail to Dulles airport, and I-66 widening?
There is no one solution to solving the traffic mess in Northern Virginia, and the mess isn’t monolithic – it is a complex of interrelated issues that need to be addressed in concert.

Making public transportation as appealing and efficient as possible is an important step given the high population of commuters in Northern Virginia. Extending Metrorail to Dulles is good, but needs to be part of a large, extensive, and most importantly, interconnected network of public transportation. We need to increase density at access points to public transportation and we need to increase public transportation modes and availability with pedestrian access and safety in mind.

Better linking development to infrastructure – including metro, roads, schools, and workplaces – is another critical element of any workable solution.

Widening I-66 inside the Beltway is a rational solution to the bottlenecking that occurs when it goes from 6 lanes outside the Beltway down to 4 lanes inside the Beltway. However, such a project should go forward only in the context of an approach that preserves green space, natural habitats, and neighborhoods. We also need to remember that such a project is a way to increase traffic flow, not a solution to the increasing number of cars on the roads and their affects on our environment. Building more lanes is a short term fix, not a long-term solution.

7. What are your beliefs regarding gun control? For instance, do you favor banning so-called "cop killer bullets" and "assault weapons?" What about closing the so-called "gun show loophole?"
As with the Dillon Rule, we need to have a common sense interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Law abiding citizens who obtain their guns properly should be able to keep those guns for sport and self-defense. But the fact that guns are available for purchase at gun shows without background checks of the buyers completely undercuts the few effective gun control laws we have in Virginia. Yes, I do support closing the gun show loophole. “Cop killer bullets” and assault weapons should be banned.

8. Do you believe that gays and lesbians should have full marriage rights in the Commonwealth of Virginia? If not, why not?
Simply: yes. Gays and lesbians should have full marriage rights in the Commonwealth of Virginia and everywhere else.

The Republican majority in the House of Delegates would rather our state government and the voters get tangled up in the political games of defining marriage and civil union; such debate isn’t functional. Gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights as straight couples. That is what I will be fighting for in Richmond.

9. Do you support an aggressive move to slash Virginia's power consumption, particularly for fuels that emit carbon dioxide or cause environmental destruction (e.g., mountaintop removal coal mining) in their production? Would you press for "decoupling," "smart metering," and mandatory "renewable portfolio standards" if you get to Richmond/return to Richmond?
I am 100% in support of an aggressive move to slash Virginia’s power consumption; I think it is an absolute necessity. I support the amended version of SB 1248 that creates the goal of reducing electric energy consumption by 2025 to a level that is 19% less than the currently projected level, and it should be passed.

There needs to be an integrated and aggressive approach to energy generation, management, transmission, and usage. That being said, we need to be equally mindful of workforce development as we are of protecting the environment. We must also ensure that Virginians who make their living off of energy production are protected while we make the move to more environmentally friendly practices.

As for the issues I would press for; I believe there needs to be a commitment to all three that you mention. Utility companies need an incentive to invest in and run energy efficient programs, and decoupling utility company sales and revenue is one such incentive that should be pursued. Smart metering is absolutely essential in raising people’s energy consumption IQ, and having energy consumption statistics available in real time allow consumers to make adjustments in real time, not just at the end of each month when they see their bill. Renewable portfolio standards are vital to Virginia’s fight to promote the production and use of renewable energy resources.

10. On a related note, will you pledge to take no money from Dominion Power or other companies that act in ways that harm workers, the environment, etc? If you have taken money from Dominion or other such companies, will you pledge to return it?
I have never taken money from Dominion Power and I will not take money from Dominion Power. My campaign is built on grassroots donors, volunteers, and people united behind the idea that its time for a change in Richmond.

11. What will you do, or what have you done, as a Delegate to improve public education in Virginia?
There is still a lot to be done in Richmond to improve public education. Working on protecting pre-K through 12 education, especially pertaining to school budgets, ending the cap on non-educational teaching staff, and changing the funding formula for Virginia public schools by adding in consideration for the numbers of English as a Second Language and Special Education students will be some of my top priorities when I am elected.

Over the past ten years I have had the privilege of representing a District that is diverse in every way. This includes JEB Stuart High School, the most diverse school in the nation in the number of languages spoken and range of income. I firmly believe that all children deserve schools that maximize their learning opportunities. With school construction and renovation throughout Mason District, I accomplished that goal while on the School Board. Successfully representing this diverse district is something I am very proud of.

One of the clearest examples of this success is Glasgow Middle School. Before being rebuilt, sewage backed up into the school kitchen – requiring what I call a “sewage day.” The school was in such bad shape that a ceiling tile actually fell on a teacher during class instruction. I fought for 7 years to rebuilt Glasgow Middle School, and I won. Glasgow now stands as a state of the art middle school and one of the greenest schools in the area.

12. Which one issue are you most passionate about and why?
Obviously I am passionate about education and had the opportunity to address that issue in previous questions, so I want to take this opportunity to discuss another issue I plan to fight for when I get to Richmond.

Our economy is bad, and everyone needs relief. Too often our most vulnerable citizens are the ones who suffer first and most often in difficult times. One of the easiest ways to help all Virginians is to finally repeal the state sales tax on food. Such a measure needs to be done in a revenue neutral way (it was proposed in the last session in a bill co-sponsored by a third of the Democratic caucus in the House, including many delegates from Northern Virginia). I look forward to fighting to repeal the state sales tax on food when I get to Richmond.

13. Can you give us a few reasons why people should vote for you instead of your Democratic opponent?
I have prided myself on being a responsive and attentive public servant, two qualities that are essential to being an effective Delegate. Over the years, Bob has too often represented the interests of developers over those of our community. Whether he was fighting on behalf of developers to roll back localities’ right to regulate septic systems to prevent raw sewage from flooding our open spaces, or championing the developers’ efforts to shirk their responsibilities to pay for infrastructure (roads and schools, in particular) made necessary by their developments, Bob hasn’t been there for us when we needed him.

When I am in Richmond, there will be no doubt whose side I’m on -- I will always fight for this community, as my record proves I always have.