Endorsements in Va. House of Delegates races

Saturday, October 24, 2009

THE POST began publishing endorsements for this year's contested races for the Virginia House of Delegates in Friday's paper. This is a continuation; our picks appear below in bold type.

To determine your legislative district, go to: http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/Index.html. Then click on "Voter Registration Status" (under Quick Links), fill out the form, click on "Find" and then "My Ballot."

District 39: Three candidates are vying to unseat incumbent Democrat Vivian E. Watts, whose hard work, mastery of issues and legislative savvy have earned the respect of lawmakers in both houses. Republican Joseph G. "Joe" Bury has a fine civic record but few concrete ideas and little interest in pursuing major transportation projects. Independent Green Party candidate James L. "Jim" Leslie urges better rail service and more affordable housing, and Libertarian Matt J. Cholko believes in slashing government services and taxes and ending gun regulations. None is the equal of Ms. Watts, a former state secretary of transportation.

District 40: Incumbent Timothy D. Hugo, a Republican, is one of those peddlers of fiscal flim-flam who rail against tax increases and claim that fiscal gimmickry can produce the huge funding needed to address years of grossly insufficient spending on transportation. Missing, always, are any real specifics about which state services should be cut. His challenger, Democrat Susan S. Conrad, offers a refreshing change. Citing mounting citizen fury over traffic, Ms. Conrad has had the political spine to support a tax increase for transportation, along with adjustments in the formula for allocating state funds. A technology consultant and Realtor engaged in community affairs, Ms. Conrad is a straight talker who would greatly improve this district's representation in Richmond.

District 41: No one in the legislature knows as much about children and the courts as incumbent David W. Marsden, a Democrat who was formerly the head of the Fairfax County juvenile jail and of the state's Juvenile Justice Department. That makes him a valuable resource in the General Assembly, where he has pushed smart measures to improve operations in local and state jails. Neither of his two opponents, Republican Kerry Bolognese, a higher education lobbyist, nor Independent Green C. Monique Berry, a Realtor, offers much in the way of original thinking.

District 42: The race here, probably the most expensive in the state, is a second challenge by Gregory A. Werkheiser, a Democrat who came close to knocking off the incumbent, Republican David B. Albo, in 2005. Both candidates are intelligent, tough-minded, broadly experienced and effective. But Mr. Werkheiser, a lawyer who founded a nonprofit that helps seniors, farmers and the disadvantaged, would occupy the sensible middle ground, which Mr. Albo, also a lawyer, has largely abandoned as he has moved into the Republican leadership in Richmond. Although he heads the House Courts of Justice Committee and is a shrewd operator, Mr. Albo has also used his legislative clout to bash undocumented immigrants and to try to block major funding initiatives, such as former Gov. Mark R. Warner's in 2004 that raised money for education and public safety.

District 43: Mark D. Sickles, a construction executive, is the Democratic incumbent. A savvy, productive lawmaker, he faces only nominal opposition from Republican Timothy D. Nank, a novice in state and local issues who blasts "wasteful spending" but cannot offer a single example.

District 44: Scott Surovell, a former head of the Fairfax County Democratic Party, is an energetic, creative-minded lawyer who knows state and local issues in depth. He's clearly the best choice for this open seat against Republican James McConville, a defense contractor whose main civic involvement has been in sports, and Independent Green Party candidate Glenda Gail Parker, who is focused almost exclusively on building rail.

District 45: In this overwhelmingly Democratic district, David L. Englin, the Democratic incumbent, is in a cakewalk against Victoria L. Vasques, a former Bush administration appointee whose knowledge and experience regarding state and local issues are tissue-thin.

District 46: Sasha Gong, the Republican candidate, has a compelling résumé -- a refugee from China, a Ph.D. from Harvard and, unusual for a Republican, a volunteer activist for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Unfortunately, she's a blank slate when it comes to most questions pertaining to Virginia; she literally hasn't considered them much. That makes her a non-serious challenger to incumbent Charniele L. Herring, a Democrat with long, deep and broad civic experience.

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