Del. Ken Plum: Back in Richmond

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The House of Delegates and the State Senate were in session yesterday (April 3) for the annual reconvened session as required by the constitution. Often referred to as the veto session, part of its business is to consider bills vetoed or with amendments proposed by the governor.

During the regular odd-numbered short session that adjourned on Feb. 24 after 46 days, there were 3,128 bills and resolutions considered. Setting aside resolutions that do not have the force of law of bills, there were 883 bills that passed the legislature all of which must have the signature of the governor in order to become law. The governor’s veto can be overturned by a vote of two-thirds of the members of both houses.

The governor in Virginia has the unique ability among executive officials to propose amendments to bills that previously passed but then must be approved by the General Assembly in the reconvened session with the amendments proposed. This ability for the governor to make corrections or to change the provisions of a bill gives the governor important legislative powers and enhances the importance of the reconvened session that typically lasts for a single day but can go up to three days.

Among the bills on the docket for this reconvened session is a bill that had passed both houses of the legislature but died at the last moment of the regular session. The dispute was over legal language to prohibit the use of cell phones that are not hands-free. The bill will be back before the legislature thanks to an amendment by the governor, and it is likely to finally pass.

I expect to support the governor in his vetoes of bills. One bill that he vetoed would limit his authority to involve Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program among Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states that mandates emission reduction in the power sector. Virginia’s involvement in this program is among the most important steps the state can take in reducing greenhouse gases and tackling climate change.

Governor Ralph Northam has also vetoed a bill that I had opposed during the regular session that would force law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions of federal immigration law that are part of the current immigration hysteria. He also vetoed a bill that would have limited the ability of local governments in making decisions about their local employment and pay consideration.

Included among the bills that passed are bills that passed in identical form but were only introduced in one house. Some advocates and legislators believe that there is more certainty that a bill will finally pass if it moves through the legislature on two separate tracks. The governor signs both identical bills to keep from choosing among competing bill sponsors. No one that I know has taken the time to count these bills, but I believe that more than half fall into this category. I question that approach — it seems like unnecessary duplication in an already complex system.

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Del. Ken Plum: An Historic Session

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

As you read this column the Virginia General Assembly will be nearing its adjournment sine die for the 400th year of its existence, having first met in the church on Jamestowne Island in 1619.

During this commemorative year, there will be many opportunities to learn more about Virginia and to reflect on how its history influences it to today even in the current legislative session and in what on another occasion was referred to as its “recent unpleasantries.”

That first session of what became known a century and a half later as the General Assembly was composed of a representative of the 22 plantations that had sprung up along the major rivers of the state as there were no local government, political boundaries or transportation networks in existence. The representatives were all white males who were landowners.

African Americans had to wait for the outcome of the Civil War and women had to wait for the twentieth century before they became part of the electorate. While the right to vote has begrudgingly expanded, over time there continues to be a resistance to making it easier to vote.

In the current session, there were proposals to allow people to vote early or vote absentee without an excuse and to make election day a holiday for the convenience of voters, but it does not appear that any will become law. Establishing a fair way to draw legislative boundaries has been hotly debated, but the decision to establish an independent redistricting commission will await the closing hours of the session.

Slaves were brought to the colony of Virginia in 1619 to work the tobacco fields that were the mainstay of the colony’s economy. They had none of the rights that Englishmen claimed and beginning in the 1640s were subjected to “slave codes” that defined them as property to be bought and sold with no access to learning to read and write or to move about freely.

After the Civil War, these restrictive laws became the Jim Crow laws that continued to limit the rights of black people who were kept in line by the Ku Klux Klan and by public lynchings. White supremacy reigned with black-face entertainment intended to degrade black people through crude humor.

Happenings during this legislative session showed how little we have progressed on issues of human rights and respect, but there is hope. The reminder to the governor of his racist past will make him an even more enlightened person who if he continues can provide important leadership to dismantling racism in the state.

The incredible people of color who were elected to the House of Delegates in the last election bring strong voices to the need for greater equity and justice in the Commonwealth. Some limited reforms that will help establish equity and remove racism in the criminal justice system are on their way to passage.

Women first came to the Virginia colony in 1619. While rights of women have expanded slowly over the centuries, having Virginia ratify the Equal Rights Amendment is still in doubt. May the lessons of this historic legislative session move us forward in future years.

To check on the fate of specific bills, go to lis.virginia.gov.

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Howell Breaks Reston Lawmakers’ Silence on ‘Horrible Week’ as Scandals Engulf Virginia

State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District) is breaking the silence among Reston lawmakers about the recent developments in a series of scandals among state-elected officials.

Earlier this week, a racist photo on Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook page surfaced, prompting Reston-area lawmakers to join widespread calls from both sides of the aisle for Northam’s resignation.

Then, the man in line to replace Northam if he steps down, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, became mired in scandal after a woman came forward alleging Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2004.

On Wednesday (Feb. 6), Attorney General Mark Herring, the third in line for the governor’s seat, admitted to wearing blackface while he was a student at the University of Virginia in 1980.

Yesterday, news reports revealed that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) was a top editor of a 1968 Virginia Military Institute yearbook that included photos of people in blackface and racial slurs.

Howell called the recent news a “horrible week” in a newsletter she wrote to constituents today (Feb. 8).

While Howell previously urged Northam to step down, she stopped short of calling for the resignation of Herring, Fairfax and Norment in her newsletter.

Here is her message:

Greetings!

This has been the week from h— here in Richmond. All of us, regardless of party, are shocked and devastated by the recent revelations about our Richmond leaders. Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, Justin Fairfax, and Tommy Norment are men we have known and worked with for years. Worse, we have trusted them to lead our state. We are all trying to sort through what is true and what isn’t.

At the same time we are being surrounded and queried by press – most of whom know little about Virginia. They don’t know about our shameful racist past or about how hard we have been working to overcome it.

I saw raw racism in Virginia. In 1963 I was a 19 year old civil rights worker in Danville, trying to guarantee fair pay and voting rights for everyone. Tensions were high and skirmishes broke out between civil rights activists like me and local white youth. The day after I left, a police riot occurred – called “Bloody Monday”- where dozens of peaceful demonstrators were injured by police. Those were ugly times.

People of goodwill have been working tirelessly to help Virginia move beyond the disgraceful parts of our past. Progress has been slow but there has been progress. We recently have been viewed as a beacon of hope for the South. The revelations of the past week and the pain they have caused have been a major setback. Obviously we must work harder. A bandage cannot cover the pain.

I am hopeful that this can be a cleansing moment for our state. We must each search our souls and work to bring about reconciliation and healing. There is a role for each of us to do so. This is not a time to sit back.

Meanwhile, please be assured that we are working hard here in Richmond to do the people’s business. Just yesterday the Senate passed our budget – on time and balanced. We Senate Democrats worked closely with Senate Republicans to produce a budget we can be proud of.

Please feel free to write me about anything of concern to you. I read all the emails myself and respond to as many as humanly possible.

Best regards,

Sen. Janet Howell

P.S. I found this article to be very insightful and urge you to read it.

Photo courtesy of Janet Howell’s office

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Del. Ken Plum: Thank You, Gov. Ralph Northam

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

By the time you’re reading this Gov. Ralph Northam will have made his annual speech to the House Appropriations and the Senate Finance Committees to advise them of any changes he proposes to the biennial budget of the Commonwealth.

While the complete list of adjustments that he will propose to a budget that was passed nearly a year ago had not been made public when this column was written, we do know from public announcements some of the proposed changes that he is going to make, specifically in funding education. That is why I think he deserves a hearty holiday “Thank You!”

The Governor has proposed an additional $39 million in new money for investments “to ensure safe learning environments for Virginia’s K-12 students.” Of that amount, $36 million will be used as the first installment of a three-year, phased plan to reduce school counselor caseloads to 1:250 from its current 1:425. The additional $3.3 million will go to the Virginia Center for School Campus Safety to train school staff in maintaining safety in schools.

As the Governor explained, “Taking steps to provide additional support to students, raise awareness about suicide, and ensure students, school professionals, public safety personnel and community members are equipped with appropriate training and intervention skills are critical to a holistic school safety strategy.”

To recruit and retain the best teaching talent to the Commonwealth, Governor Northam has announced that he will seek an additional $268.7 million in new money for K-12 education that will among other improvements fund the state share of a 5 percent raise for teachers effective July 1, 2019. That is an increase over the current budget that would have funded a 2 percent raise.

The additional money for public schools includes $70 million for programs for at-risk students targeted to schools with the highest concentration of students eligible for free lunch to provide dropout prevention, after-school programs, and specialized instruction. An additional $80 million will be a one-time deposit to the Literary Fund which is a method by which the state helps poorer school divisions fund school construction.

As explained in a press release from the Governor’s Office, “Altogether, the budget proposals reflect the Governor’s commitment to ensuring that every Virginia student, no matter who they are or where they live, has the same access to a quality education.”

Even with these needed additional funds, the state share of education will continue to trail its pre-2008 economic recession level. With the slow recovery over many years that kept state revenues low, local governments have had to increase their funding to schools at the expense of other local needs. The proposals that the governor is making will help move the state back to a more equal partnership with localities in funding schools and hopefully to a 60 to 40 sharing of costs of state and local funding that had been envisioned for schools.

Gov. Northam deserves a big thank you for giving priority to funding programs for our children and their education. That is about investing in our future!

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Del. Ken Plum: A Matter of Style

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The experiences of the Virginia colonists with King George III taught them a lesson not forgotten even until today. Executive authorities are not to be trusted. Monarchies are likely to try to take away the people’s rights and property. The assertions of the Declaration of Independence were to make it clear that the people of America had sworn off monarchial government. They were not about to replace a king with a president or a government who might try to exert the kind of absolute executive power they had under the king.

Instead, controls were incorporated in the U.S. Constitution as well as state constitutions to keep the executive authority in check. Virginia’s limitations on the governor were especially limiting. For example, the governor’s term was one year. He could run for re-election more than once, but likewise he could be turned out after just one year. We have loosened up somewhat in modern times by extending the term to four years, but there is a limitation of one consecutive term.

The governor can run for an additional term, but it cannot be consecutive with the first. I think the one-term limitation is unnecessarily restrictive and have voted more than once to allow the governor to run for a second consecutive term. One term may keep a governor under control, but it can also limit his or her effectiveness.

Governor Terry McAuliffe was a high-energy, strongly motivated, hard-charging governor whose accomplishments exceeded those of his predecessors. He accepted the fact he had just one term, and he worked energetically to get all he could done in the relatively short four-year term. He pushed the legislature to get things done, and he did not hesitate to use executive authority when necessary.

He was taken to court by the Republicans for restoring citizenship rights to those who had been incarcerated, but he won and restored citizenship rights to 172,000 ex-felons. He brought about a New Virginia Economy of high employment, job growth, and attractiveness to those seeking to locate a company here.

Governor Ralph Northam who served under the shadow of Governor McAuliffe as lieutenant governor was always recognized as being extremely able but without the show of high-energy and flair of the Governor. No one questioned his ability, but it was widely concluded that he would bring a different style to the governorship. Most expected a mild-mannered, cordial leader who would govern more by consensus.

Clearly the styles are different, but there may have been a bit of selling short Governor Northam because of his easy Eastern Shore manner. His inauguration speech as well his first speech to the General Assembly were anything but mild or equivocal. They were as strong and as direct as any that Governor McAuliffe delivered. Calling upon his background as a physician, he built a hard case for the expansion of health services to the people in need in the Commonwealth. He is as direct as anyone I have heard speak about the need for common-sense gun control measures. He is emphatic in his defense of women’s reproductive rights.

We may not have a second term for the governor in Virginia, but we have a governor taking over who is going to continue the policies of his predecessor. The difference in the two will simply be a matter of style.

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In Closely Watched Virginia Election, Votes in Reston Mirror Statewide Results

Democrat Ralph Northam clenched victory over Republican Ed Gillespie in the competitive race to become Virginia’s 73rd governor Tuesday — statewide results that echoed locally in a bellwether race watched around the nation as judgment on President Donald Trump.

Democrats swept statewide offices, including the lieutenant governor and attorney general. In the Hunter Mill District, Northam won in every precinct with 61 percent of all votes – slightly below the countywide average of 67 percent and above the statewide return of 54 percent. Northam took 30,201 of the 49,788 ballots cast while Gillespie grasped 45 percent of the vote. The tightest race was in the Colvin Precinct where Northam won by a 59 percent to 40 percent margin over Gillespie, who took 54 percent of the total vote statewide.

Democrat Justin Fairfax won over Republican state Sen. Jill Vogel in the race for lieutenant governor while Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring was reelected over Republican John Adams.

Overall, voters took to the polls in greater numbers this year. Turnout in the Hunter Mill District was just under 50 percent, roughly six percentage points below the statewide voter turnout of 56 percent.

The Flint Hill precinct reported the highest turnout at nearly 66 percent. The lowest turnout was reported at the McNair precinct where turnout rested at a mum 45 percent compared to the district-wide average of 60 percent.

Voters also passed a measure that would approve the sale of $315 million in bonds to fund school improvement projects throughout the county. The measure passed with 73 percent of the total vote. Locally, the funds would allow the county to move forward on renovations to one modular buildings; additions to three county high schools; renovations to 10 elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools; and the construction of two new elementary schools.

Democrat Ken Plum, Reston’s current delegate, will also continue serving as the local delegate for the 36th district. Plum, who worked for roughly 20 years as a public school teacher an administrator prior to his role in politics, ran in an uncontested race.

To view complete election results, visit Fairfax County’s interactive map or view results online.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem.

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Under the Cover of Rain, Reston Residents Head to Polls in Statewide Election


Despite the downpour of rain on Tuesday, a steady stream of voters cast their votes at Armstrong Elementary School in Reston. As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 209,223 residents of Fairfax County voted in Virginia’s election.

The state is only of of two in the United States with statewide elections this year. Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam are vying for governor in what is expected to be a narrow contest, according to The New York Times. Libertarian Cliff Hyra is also running.

In the last election in 2013, turnout rested at 46.8 percent. With a little more than four hours before polls close, turnout this year sits at 30.6 percent, according to the county.

A record number of absentee ballots were cast this year, according to Fairfax County officials. More than 41,000 Virginians participated in early voting, up by roughly 61 percent from voting in 2013. Absentee voting was up in every jurisdictions in Virginia, except three, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-profit organization that provides information about local politics.

There are more than 684,041 active registered voters in Fairfax County. Throughout the day, voters trickled in at various polling sites throughout Reston and Fairfax County. By 10 a.m., nearly 16 percent or roughly 109,000 of registered voters already casted their ballot.

All 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are up for election. Fifty-five of those seats are contested.

Reston’s current Delegate, Democrat Ken Plum, is running without opposition in this election. Plum is currently serving his 36th year as the local Delegate for the 36th District, which includes Reston. Prior to his political appointment, he served for roughly 20 years as a public school teacher and administrator. Plum recently commented on his unopposed race for re-election in his weekly commentary.

Two candidates, Republican Jill Vogel and Justin Fairfax are running to replace Ralph Northam as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, a role which often presides over the State Senate, and has the power to break tie votes. The race for attorney general is between the current attorney general, Democrat Mark Herring, and his opponent, Republican John Adams.

The Board of Supervisors has asked residents to approve the sale of $315 million in bonds. If approved, the county has published a list of school improvement projects they would use the money to pay for.

The American Civil Liberties Union received multiple reports from Virginia voters who said that they received calls falsely saying their polling place had changed. The civil liberties organization advised voters to confirm polling locations at elections.virginia.gov and report any issues by calling the organization at 804-644-8080.

Polling stations are open through 7 p.m. Results can be viewed live at VPAP’s website or on the Fairfax County Government website.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Friday Morning Notes

Lake Anne Brew House Earns Best Brewery Spot — Determined by the results of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup, Lake Anne Brew House is one of three breweries that have shared the title of Best Brewery from Virginia Craft Beer magazine. [Virginia Craft Beer]

Gillespie, Northam Confirmed for Debate — The two gubernatorial candidates will participate a debate in Tysons on Sept. 19, hosted by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press” will moderate. [NOVA Chamber]

Former Clyde’s Chef Now in Charlottesville — Patrick Carroll, who formerly served as executive chef with Clyde’s of Reston, has been tapped as the new executive chef at Three Notch’d Brewing Company in Charlottesville. The craft brewer is investing nearly $3 million to expand its restaurant. [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]

Terry McAuliffe on ‘The Daily Show’ — The Virginia governor was on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” earlier this week, talking about how he challenged the Trump Administration’s voter fraud commission. He also weighed in on the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare. [The Daily Show]

Suspected Child Predator Nabbed — Jerberth Adallir Palma, 43, of Springfield, was arrested July 13 by Fairfax County Police and charged with numerous sex crimes against children. Detectives believe there might be other victims.  [Fairfax County Police Department]

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Del. Ken Plum: Looking Ahead to the November General Elections

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

With the conclusion of the political party primaries last week, the general election is now teed up for Nov. 7.

There were some surprises coming out of the Democratic and Republican primaries. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam easily won the Democratic primary to be the nominee for governor, even though there was discussion beforehand that polls indicated a tight race. Polling for primaries is notorious for being inaccurate because with a typically light turnout, the universe of potential voters is almost impossible to determine. Former one-term Congressman Tom Perriello has a great deal to offer and will hopefully stay on the scene for future opportunities. Although the term “establishment” was grossly overused in describing Ralph Northam, his service in the state Senate plus his active role as lieutenant governor made him well known and greatly admired throughout the state.

Justin Fairfax gained everyone’s admiration after a primary loss to Attorney General Mark Herring four years ago led to his active campaigning during the interim time, making him well known for this primary. He was also well known for his work as an attorney. If you review the areas where Ralph Northam did well and compare them with where Justin Fairfax was strongest, you create a strong statewide team that will be nearly impossible to defeat. Attorney General Mark Herring was not challenged in a primary and will be on the ballot to succeed himself in November. There is no one-term limitation with the attorney general and the lieutenant governor as there is with the governor.

The greatest surprise of the primaries may have been on the Republican side to pick a candidate for governor. Ed Gillespie who has been mentioned for years as the next Republican governor of Virginia barely got through the primary with a shockingly strong showing by Corey Stewart, who is known for his anti-immigrant work in Prince William County and for campaigning with a Confederate flag. He has the distinction of being so over the top that he was fired by the Trump campaign. Turnout was especially low in the Republican primary, and Stewart was just over a percentage point from taking out Gillespie. It will be interesting to see if the folks who voted for Stewart will vote in the general election or decide to stay home.

The Republican primary for lieutenant governor was a slugfest between two state senators, with Sen. Jill Vogel winning after a mud-slinging campaign that left neither candidate looking good.

All 100 seats for the House of Delegates are up for election this fall with a record number of contested elections. Historically, it has been difficult to recruit candidates to run for the House of Delegates, but events of the past year have brought forth more candidates than ever before. There was a record number 27 seats where the candidates were determined by the primary because there was so much interest in running. Democrats will certainly pick up seats in the House of Delegates getting closer to shifting or sharing power in that legislative body.

While I am uncontested in my race for the House of Delegates, you can still expect to see me campaigning. It is a good way to stay in touch with constituents and to increase turn-out for the statewide elections. Expect a busy fall of campaigning leading up to the fall elections in Virginia that will send a signal to the nation as to the public’s reaction to national events.

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Local Gubernatorial Primary Votes In Line with Statewide Election Results

Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam stormed to victory in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary election, while Republican Ed Gillespie scratched and clawed his way to the nomination — results that showed locally as well as statewide.

About 1 in 6 registered voters in the Hunter Mill District showed up to vote on the Democratic ballot in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary election, while only about 1 in 20 did so on the Republican side.

In the Democratic race, Northam won every precinct in the district except one (McNair, who vote at McNair Elementary School in Herndon). Northam gained 7,670 votes in the district, which he won by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin over opponent Tom Perriello. Countywide, Northam won with a little over 60 percent of the vote, and he took the race overall with about 56 percent of the vote statewide.

The Republican race was much tighter, both locally and statewide. The top two candidates — former Republican National Committee chair Gillespie and Corey Stewart, former state chairman for the Donald Trump campaign — split Hunter Mill precinct wins, with Gillespie taking 14 and Stewart winning 13. Gillespie received more overall votes in Hunter Mill, taking about 44.5 percent of the 3,675 ballots cast; Stewart received 41.4 percent, and state Sen. Frank Wagner received about 14 percent.

In the county, Gillespie won with 47.7 percent of the vote; Stewart received 39 percent. Statewide, it was much closer, with Gillespie receiving only about 4,000 votes more than Stewart.

Winners in the races for lieutenant governor nominations were Jill Vogel (Republican) and Justin Fairfax (Democratic). Vogel won handily locally over two opponents; Fairfax was defeated in a handful of precincts by Susan Platt but did carry the county.

The highest turnout of Democratic voters in Reston was in the Reston No. 3 precinct, who vote at Reston Community Center at Lake Anne. Nearly a quarter (24.1 percent, 532 of 2,212) of registered voters in that precinct cast a Democratic ballot.

The lowest turnout of Democratic voters in Reston was in the Cameron Glen precinct, who vote at the North County Human Services Building. Only 475 of 3,861 registered voters (12.3 percent) in that precinct voted in the Democratic primary.

The highest turnout of Republican voters in Reston, meanwhile, was in the Sunrise Valley precinct, who vote at Sunrise Valley Elementary School. In that precinct, 131 of 1,826 registered voters (7.2 percent) participated by using a GOP ballot.

The lowest turnout of Republican voters in Reston was in the Hughes precinct, who vote at Hughes Middle School. Just 2.6 percent of registered voters there (103 of 3,947) took part in the GOP primary.

You can examine countywide election results more closely by using the map on Fairfax County’s website.

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Northam, Gillespie Win Governor Nominations — Virginia’s lieutenant governor will face the former Republican National Committee chairman in November’s general election to fill the Governor’s Mansion. Their running mates will be Justin Fairfax (D) and Jill Vogel (R). [WTOP]

Herndon PD Establishes Drug Collection Station — The new unit at the Herndon Police Department (397 Herndon Parkway) will provide residents with a safe and environmentally responsible way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medication, including controlled substances. [Herndon Police]

Former Phys-Ed Teacher Gets Principal Job — Nick Napolitano, who was a physical-education teacher at Aldrin Elementary School from 2011-2014, has been named the principal of W.C. Taylor Middle School in Warrenton. [Fauquier Now]

Diversion First Info Session Tonight — Interested in learning more about the county’s Diversion First program, which was developed to limit the number of mentally ill and disabled people in jail? A presentation is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne (1609-A Washington Plaza N.). [Reston Now]

Farmers Market, Church Have Strong Partnership — Smart Markets operates out of the parking lot at St. John Neumann Catholic Community (11900 Lawyers Road) from 3-7 p.m. each Wednesday. [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Photo courtesy Radhika Murari/RSTA

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Voters Trickle Into the Polls for Virginia Gubernatorial Primary Election

There’s still time to vote in Virginia’s primary election. Polls opened this morning and will remain open until 7 p.m.

At the North County Human Services Center, one of several polling places in Reston, voters were in and out in only a few minutes. The official Fairfax County election Twitter account reported low turnout as of 2 p.m., with only 8.6 percent of registered voters having cast their ballots.

The candidates on the ballot for governor are Democrats Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello and Republicans Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart, and Frank Wagner. For lieutenant governor, Republican candidates are Glenn Davis, Bryce Reeves and Jill Vogel; Democratic candidates are Justin Fairfax, Susan Platt and Gene Rossi.

Quite a few voters in Reston were vocal about their motives. Many came out because they are dissatisfied with the current administration and believe voting may be the solution.

“I think the midterm elections and statewide elections are very critical to the national issues,” said one voter.

But some don’t see it as a partisan issue. Some voters just wanted to see some return to normalcy in American politics.

“[Government] is focused on the wrong thing,” another voter said. “If I can send a message at the local level, that’s a start.”

Others are of the thought that voting is their duty as a citizen.

“If we don’t speak up and let people know how we feel by our votes, then we are subject to somebody else telling us what to do,” one man said.

If you need to know where your polling place is, check the Virginia Department of Elections. You will need to show a photo ID before casting your ballot.

You can also track the local results of the election on the county website.

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Sample Ballots Available for June’s Gubernatorial Primary Election

Fairfax County has made sample ballots available for June 13’s Virginia primary election, at which Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates will be selected.

Republican candidates for governor are Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner. Democratic candidates are Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello.

For lieutenant governor, Republican candidates are Glenn Davis, Bryce Reeves and Jill Vogel. Democratic candidates are Justin Fairfax, Susan Platt and Gene Rossi.

To find your polling place, visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.

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Del. Ken Plum: Governor’s Vetoes Have Saved Virginia Much Embarrassment

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

While a governor is the chief executive of a state responsible for seeing that the laws are carried out, the governor plays a crucial role in the legislative process with the requirement that all passed bills must be signed before they become law or not signed and vetoed to keep such bills from becoming law. There is no better example of the significance of the governor’s power to veto laws than in Virginia.

Next week, on Wednesday, April 5, which is the required sixth Wednesday after the adjournment of the regular session of the General Assembly, the Constitution requires a reconvened or commonly called “veto session” to consider only vetoes or amendments made by the governor to bills that had been passed in both houses of the General Assembly earlier in the regular session. The requirement for the reconvened session was added to the Constitution in 1981 because without it, the governor was able to veto bills after legislators went home without any opportunity for them to override the veto.

With the fast pace of nearly a thousand bills being passed in a session of 45 to 60 days, the reconvened session provides an opportunity for the governor to send down amendments that are found to be needed that might clarify or correct language in bills.

Most importantly, a governor can play a role in the legislative process by vetoing some really bad bills that may have narrowly passed the legislature but are not in the best interest of the state. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has used his veto pen very effectively in vetoing bills that respond to special interests but do not serve the public good of the Commonwealth. By the end of the reconvened session next week he will have set a record of vetoing more than 90 bills without legislators being able to get a two-thirds vote in both houses for the bills to become law without his signature. I am especially pleased that he has never vetoed a bill that I had not already voted against in the regular session.

As in previous years, he has vetoed bills that would legalize discrimination against LGBT citizens. He has regularly vetoed bills similar to HB2 in North Carolina, which has brought such bad publicity to that state for upholding discrimination and that resulted in the state losing businesses and major sports events. Without Gov. McAuliffe’s courageous veto, Virginia would be in the same category of discrimination as North Carolina.

Gov. McAuliffe has once again vetoed a bill that would deny public funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides critically important health services to women over an ideological dispute as to who should make reproductive health decisions for women. He is again vetoing a series of bills that would make guns and switch-blades more accessible to persons in emergency shelters including children. He vetoed a bill that would have expanded eligibility for concealed handgun permits.

What a difference Gov. Terry McAuliffe has made with his veto pen in keeping some really bad bills from becoming law.

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Election Day in Reston: Quick Guide to the Candidates, Issues

Election Day/file photoTuesday is Election Day, and Virginia voters will go to the polls to elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, sheriff and state delegate. Voters in Fairfax County will also vote Yes or No on a $250 million school bond issue.

With Terry McAuliffe leading in the polls, will voters return a Democrat to the Governors Mansion in Richmond? Or will Virginia Attorney Ken Cuccinelli head the commonwealth?

And what impact will Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who has been polling with about 10 percent, have on the outcome of the governor’s race?

In Reston, longtime Virginia Del. Ken Plum (D-36th) is running unopposed. In the nearby 86th District, newcomer Jennifer Boysko (D) is taking on incumbent Republican Tom Rust.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more Election Day details, visit the Virginia Board of Elections website.

Here is a quick guide to the candidates.

Governor

Terry R. McAuliffe (D)
Ken T. Cuccinelli II (R)
Robert C. Sarvis (L)

Lieutenant Governor

Ralph S. Northam  (D)
E.W. Jackson (R)

Attorney General

Mark R. Herring (D)
Mark D. Obenshain  (R)

Fairfax County Sheriff

Stacey Kincaid
Bryan Wolfe
Christopher DeCarlo
Robert Rivera

State Delegate

36th District

Ken Plum (D) – incumbent running unopposed

86th District 

Tom Rust (R) – incumbent
Jennifer Boysko (D)

 

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