|As part of this site's ongoing effort to learn more about Democratic candidates for office in Virginia, today we publish the first of two interviews with the Democratic candidates in the 49th House of Delegates District (note: current Delegate Adam Ebbin is vacating the seat to run for State Senate). Those candidates are Stephanie Clifford and Alfonso Lopez. We presented the same questions simultaneously to both candidates, and also requested that they return them at the same time (to be fair, so neither of them knew what the other had answered). Today, we present Stephanie Clifford'sinterview. We hope you find it informative, and would be very interested in your reaction. Thanks.P.S. We will also use these questionnaires as an important part of our consideration into whether we will endorse anyone in this district, and if so, who we will endorse. We will also be watching debates and the overall campaign to determine who we believe will best represent progressive values, and of course the 49th District, in Richmond. Thank you to both candidates for their thoughtful, thorough answers to our questions!|
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the two Democratic candidates to represent the 49th House of Delegates district in Richmond.
I'm running to take my passion for public service and support of my community to the next level by going right to the heart of our problems in Richmond. Change in our community is just the beginning; for all of our progress to become permanent, we need to make sure our voices continue to be heard in Richmond.My husband, Cliff, and I met in Arlington and have been here for nearly a decade. We're proud to call this area our home-in large part because of the people from our volunteering who love this community and work to make it stronger, everyday.
|lowkell :: Blue Virginia Interviews with 49th House of Delegates District Candidates: Stephanie Clifford|
|2. What three issues are you most passionate about and why? Also, what specifically have you done to further those issues?|
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 am proud to support policies and legislation that brings everyone into the process and move Virginia forward and look forward to demonstrating my values by supporting environmental protection, progressive tax reform, marriage and adoption equality, support for public education, density over sprawl, healthcare reform and looking out for our most-vulnerable citizens in our community and in the statehouse.I've always chosen jobs where I could be at the heart of and influence these issue debates. I've invested myself in these issues as an issue advocate and campaign worker. In fact, my choice to enter this election is because of the importance of these progressive values and my desire to step up and fight for them. This was not an easy move, or a career move, but it is the right one for me at this time for this seat because of these issues. And if chosen by the voters, I will fight for our shared community values for as long as it takes to accomplish the change we need.
4. Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite Virginia politician and why?
Of our current politicians - Congressman Jim Moran is my favorite. He always comes out for the community, seems to know every member of his district by name, provides great constituent services and appreciates his staff. He is strong on international and defense issues, but is also Congress's biggest supporter of animal welfare issues, a cause that is good for animals and the health of Virginians and the environment, but is not the most popularly supported.Least favorite - Ken Cuccinelli, he and other Republicans are attacking everything that brought me to the Democratic Party and inspired my run as we need another strong voice to speak up in Richmond against these attacks.
5. This year, Virginia politicians have been busy dividing up the Commonwealth into new legislative districts, with the clear #1 goal being incumbent protection. With that in mind, do you support nonpartisan redistricting as opposed to the system we have now? If elected to the House of Delegates, what specifically will you do to make this happen?
Yes, I do support nonpartisan redistricting and would start working on changes immediately to be ready for the next national census while the lessons of this year are still fresh. I would introduce or support legislation like the bills which passed the Senate establishing a nonpartisan redistricting committee and would include requirements that the process be done openly. While we want as many Democrats as possible to keep and gain new seats, the current system is not the way to do it.6. On the subject of transportation, three questions. First, if you had been in the House of Delegates this past session, would you have voted for HB 1998, a bill strongly opposed by "smart growth" and environmental group as encouraging sprawl and highway construction over public transit? Second, how do you propose paying for the tens of billions of dollars in transportation maintenance and improvements Virginia is estimated to require in coming years? Finally, what are your thoughts on the proposed Columbia Pike Streetcar system?
I would have opposed HB 1998. Simple fast movement of cars should not be the main goal of our transportation plans. Public transportation and smart growth should be our focus. We need broad transportation plans that focus on density over sprawl and infrastructure that brings jobs to where people already live to decrease the need travel overall and increase the quality of life for Virginians.In order to address this escalating issue, I will introduce legislation that establishes the following: dedicated sources of funding for our mass transit option; in addition to changing the funding formula from a per gallon charge to a percentage of the entire purchase to keep up with the rising maintenance costs; and finally investing in technology that will help us use alternative user fee options such as VMT. With your help we can keep Virginia roads free of tolls and open to everyone.7. If you had been in the House of Delegates this past session, would you have voted "yea" or "nay" on Majority Leader Dick Saslaw's bill, SB 1367 (motor vehicle title loans to nonresidents)? In general, if elected, would you always do what you believe is right or would you follow your leadership, even if you don't agree with it?
"Nay." Programs that take advantage of the most vulnerable in a moment of financial crisis don't need to be expanded-they must be more tightly regulated. We need to stop all forms of predatory lending and develop new financial services to help those in need who can't access traditional credit sources.Now is not the time to play politics with peoples' trust or well being. I will work for the people of the 49th District. With the short legislative session, you can't blink-destructive policies have left the legislature before and it has impacted our area negatively. I will work with every party to protect constituents in Arlington and Fairfax from ideologues in Richmond.
8. What is your vision for Virginia's energy future? For instance, if you are elected to the House of Delegates, will you push for legislation like Chap Petersen's Clean Energy Future Act? Will you support any of 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 will push for legislation like the Clean Energy Future Act as a delegate, as I have as a citizen. A healthy environment for all of Virginia's citizens is one of the most basic things that we need to work toward, and I especially support legislation like this that ties in the economic benefits and additional jobs that a clean energy economy will bring to the commonwealth. Virginia can be a leader and can show that green business can be profitable and good for workers.I do not support any of these and will support and introduce any legislation necessary to keep the ban on uranium mining, stop the potential disaster of offshore drilling, protect our soil and water from fracking, stop any new coal-fired plants and mountaintop removal mining while working to promote clean and renewal energy sources - especially offshore wind - and increased energy efficiency standards and practices.
9. 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, as recently passed in Maryland; c) allowing gay couples to adopt; d) ultimately, repealing the Marshall-Newman Amendment; e) closing the "gun show loophole" and taking other commonsense gun measures; f) raising the gas tax and/or instituting a carbon tax?
10. Given that the 49th 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 49th district for statewide and Congressional elections. Do you agree with this vision for the Delegate from the 49th district, and if so, what exactly is your plan to accomplish it?
I am running to represent residents of the 49th District and will build upon the values of this area, which I have seen firsthand while volunteering. I will do everything in my power to represent those progressive values while in Richmond.But, I know that business doesn't stop when I leave the capital. Grassroots support is really what moves Virginia forward and as Delegate, I would work for issues important to our area and use them to help others. But, as we have seen during the last legislative session, it even if the 49th District is blue, our values are still threatened in Richmond. We need a progressive team to defend those in the legislature.
11. Do you agree or disagree that Richmond is broken - for instance, the tremendous influence of money and lobbyists on legislation - and needs major reform? If elected to the House of Delegates, would your general attitude be more "go along, get along" or "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?
Richmond is broken and needs major reform to make the legislative process fair and accessible to everyone. My work in federal government relations has given me unique insights into how business and government work together, for good and bad, and the checks that are necessary in the system. The wants of businesses are not necessarily incompatible with the needs of citizens - often they just want to provide jobs and be competitive - but sometimes they are. I know the process and how to promote the interests of people and good businesses. I have worked as the catalyst to find the common ground in what is good for both.I strongly support organizations like VPAP and Richmond Sunlight who do great work in opening up the system, but more does need to be done by the General Assembly itself. I am very happy that next year all votes - subcommittee to floor - will be available on the General Assembly's website and would support other easy changes to increase transparency such as an online archive of session videos.
Blue Virginia Interviews with 49th House of Delegates District Candidates: Stephanie Clifford
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Posted by Lowell at 1:25 PM