Dave Marsden for Senate

Monday, January 4, 2010

IN VIRGINIA, the two candidates running in a special election to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli II, in western Fairfax County's District 37, offer voters a stark choice.

One of them, Dave W. Marsden, a Democrat, is a well-respected expert on incarceration, juvenile justice and rehabilitation, having run the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center for 17 years as well as the state's Department of Juvenile Justice, a position for which he was chosen by a Republican governor. Mr. Marsden has served two terms in the House of Delegates with distinction.

The other candidate, Stephen Hunt, a Republican, served a single term on the Fairfax County School Board; unusually for an incumbent, he failed to win reelection. Although he was hardworking, his tenure is remembered mainly for his being unanimously censured by his colleagues after he sent a letter to high school principals denouncing homosexuality as a "very destructive lifestyle" and urging them to expose students to former gays and lesbians who had rejected homosexuality. He also used the school board's dais as a platform from which to deliver a broadcast soliloquy about his regrets in losing his virginity before marriage. As the kids might say: Too much information.

Mr. Hunt's sin wasn't mouthing the usual platitudes of socially conservative orthodoxy; it's his consistently bad judgment.

Now, ahead of the vote scheduled for Jan. 12, Mr. Hunt is bashing Mr. Marsden for having voted for higher taxes for transportation. For his part, Mr. Hunt says that he'd pay for new roads by tapping offshore gas and oil royalties -- a nice idea except for the fact that offshore reserves are unproven; drilling needs federal approval; it may be opposed by the military; and it could take a decade or more to yield royalties. In the meantime, it seems not to matter to Mr. Hunt if Virginia commuters sit and stew in traffic.

What Mr. Hunt offers is mainly cliches. Better to elect Mr. Marsden, who brings policy expertise, fiscal realism and sound judgment.

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