Two Old Foes Return to Swing O'Brien's District Democratic
Thursday, June 7, 2007
George L. Barker and Greg J. Galligan have run against Republican Sen. James K. "Jay" O'Brien Jr. (R) and lost. But both men are convinced that this year the voters in Virginia's 39th District are poised to elect a Democratic senator.
They are vying for their party's nomination in the Tuesday primary. The winner will face O'Brien in November.
Both candidates said their priorities would include pushing for more state funding to relieve traffic on congested Northern Virginia roads and improve schools, as well as finding ways to enhance health care.
Galligan, 32, a former member of the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps who runs a marketing and advertising consulting firm, said his military experience positions him to be an effective supporter of the state's emergency services workers. He also points to his community involvement, including as a captain with the National Guard and a member of the state Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Barker, 55, associate director of the Health Systems Agency of Northern Virginia, said his résumé shows he's uniquely qualified to tackle many of the state's most vexing problems. He's chairman of Fairfax County's Transportation Advisory Commission and a member of the county's Tysons Corner Task Force, which is working to improve the area's development planning. He has also been a PTA president and has worked with groups addressing health-care issues.
"I know transportation. I know land use. I know education," Barker said. "When I get down to Richmond on Day One, I'll hit the ground running."
Galligan said his enthusiasm sets him apart. "I don't know if we differ too much on the issues," he said of his opponent, "but I'm the most energetic and driven candidate."
The 39th District, which was created in 2001 to reflect the population changes in the 2000 Census, stretches across Fairfax from Clifton to Franconia and into Prince William County. It is considered a swing district. Whereas Republican President Bush carried the district in 2004, both Democrats Timothy M. Kaine and James Webb were later favored by voters in gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, respectively.
Galligan challenged O'Brien for the Senate seat in the 2003 general election and lost. Barker was defeated by O'Brien in 1991 and 1993 in the House of Delegates race for the 40th District.
Barker and Galligan each said concerns about traffic are the most frequent complaint they hear from voters. It's a problem both said will worsen in the district because of the Pentagon's plan to move 22,000 workers to Fort Belvoir by 2011.
Barker said he supports increased state funding to extend Metro's Orange and Blue lines into Prince William County and add light rail. He also would advocate for ways to concentrate new housing near job centers such as Tysons Corner so people can live near work and avoid long commutes.
Galligan also supports the extension of Metro. He thinks the state should offer a tax credit for residents who are regular Metro commuters and companies that promote telecommuting. The federal government already offers such a credit.
Each candidate also said Virginia needs to become more environmentally sensitive. Galligan, who lives in the Alexandria section of Fairfax, said he would push to shift all state vehicles to hybrids. Barker, who showers in water heated by solar panels he installed in his Clifton house in the 1980s, said a state tax credit or other incentive should be offered for residents and businesses that use similar energy-saving techniques and devices.