Kaine Sounds Slow-Growth Note in Exurbs

Timothy M. Kaine meets with Jane Thompson and Bruce Smith at Dixie Bones restaurant in Woodbridge, an area that Democrats have found hard to crack.
Timothy M. Kaine meets with Jane Thompson and Bruce Smith at Dixie Bones restaurant in Woodbridge, an area that Democrats have found hard to crack. (Linda Davidson - Twp)
By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine is taking his campaign into the heart of Republican strength in Northern Virginia -- the outer suburbs -- with a call for powerful new tools to curb sprawl.

Kaine spent yesterday campaigning with Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) in Prince William and Loudoun counties, two areas Warner lost in 2001. Last year, President Bush trounced Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in both areas.

At a breakfast in Leesburg and later in Manassas and Woodbridge, Kaine told audiences that fixing the traffic problems plaguing the region will require local governments to have better control over development.

"You have got to connect your land use decisions with transportation decisions," Kaine said. "There are some who find that that is a huge and controversial concept, the notion that we shouldn't just automatically rezone and develop everything when the transportation infrastructure isn't in place to support it. I think that is such a common-sense value."

Kaine's political strategy is to break the stranglehold Republicans have had on the rapidly growing communities that ring the close-in suburbs. If it works, political observers said, the lieutenant governor could siphon enough support from these traditionally conservative areas to win what polls suggest will be a close election.

With his proposal, Kaine has cast his lot with the region's slow-growth movement and angered developers who provide much of the cash to support campaigns.

"If he cannot appeal to these voters on ideological ground, then he has to reach them on local issues," said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor who studies Virginia politics. "If he can persuade enough voters to hold down his losses in those areas, that may be enough."

Kaine proposes that local governments get powers over zoning that would allow supervisors and city councils to reject development plans if roads in the area and the region are too congested to support them.

Republican Jerry W. Kilgore opposes such measures, which are often called Adequate Public Facilities ordinances and are common among Maryland counties.

"This is an attempt by a liberal candidate to provide government with the tools to tell people where they can live," Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. "The exurbs are important to us. We feel very good about the fact that people who live there will be on our side."

Kaine has been spreading his message about linking development and traffic issues for months. Last week, he proposed bolstering the broad vision.

"I'll give your community more power to stop out-of-control development that increases traffic," Kaine says in a 30-second television ad airing extensively in the outer suburbs.

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