Candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Issue: What do you believe is the most important statewide issue the 1983 General Assembly will confront?
Budget: What is your opinion of the Robb administration's budget cuts? Would you cut some programs more deeply and restore funds to others?
Problem: What Northern Virginia problem is most in need of legislative attention?
James W. Benson (D), 37, of 9208 Christopher St., Fairfax, is business manager for a newsletter of the Public Concern Foundation. A former legislative assistant in the Virginia General Assembly, he has been a federal energy agency official and an advisor to the United Nations, the Department of State and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.
Issue: The most important issue facing the next session of the legislature will involve maintaining a fair balance in the face of a new round of reductions of federal assistance for vital programs. Virginia has always had and will continue to have a balanced budget. For each dollar in reduced federal assistance, programs must be cut by a dollar or taxes increased by a dollar. Multiplied by millions, the problem demands increased sensitivity and compassion for those hurt by reductions -- the elderly, handicapped, mentally retarded, poor. Calls for even further reductions in revenue, through a variety of schemes such as "flat tax," tuition tax credits, "indexing," can only result in an unbalanced budget. Instead, I will seek ways to stimulate the formation and growth of small businesses, which are the primary source of new jobs and a larger revenue-producing base.
Budget: State legislatures must plan their budgets one to three years in advance, based on the best available information and projections currently available. Congress has had great difficulty in acting on its budget, which has resulted in a lack of timely and dependable information for Gov. Robb and the General Assembly to act on. Gov. Robb cut the budgets of all agencies across the board. These cuts were necessary because of the cuts at the federal level, but the precise nature of the cuts was not known far enough in advance to permit greater selectivity. I am certain that because of the nature of across-the-board cuts, adjustments will have to be made during the next session. There is very little, if any, "fat" left in the budget -- the problem requires further research.
Problem: A number of important issues are facing Northern Virginia: improvement of public education, reduction of crime, completion of Metro stations, improving the quality and quantity of our water supply system and guaranteeing economic and social equality for women and minorities -- to name a few. However, I am also very concerned about the quality and tenure of our elected members to the House of Delegates. With our new single-member district, it is most important that voters choose the candidate who will best represent them in Richmond. In recent elections candidates of the Far Right, such as my opponent, have attempted to gain a foothold in Northern Virginia. They have been largely unsuccessful. The few who have been elected have been turned out of office in the following election. Northern Virginia will have more clout in the downstate-dominated legislature only when we elect moderate candidates of quality who will be reelected and thereby gain seniority.
Stephen E. Gordy (R), 62, of 3708 Prado Place, Fairfax, is a retired Army officer and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. For the last decade, until retiring last year, he was a teacher and principal in Loudoun County. He serves on the Fairfax County Republican Committee and works with handicapped adults in Fairfax County.
Issue: The economy will be the most important issue that the General Assembly will face. Members of the General Assembly must pass a program which limits state taxes and spending and promotes prosperity and jobs.
Budget: Gov. Robb's budget cuts are an effort to limit state taxes and spending. However, each area should be examined by the General Assembly to ascertain if deeper cuts could be made in certain programs and thus reduce cuts planned in Medicare, child support, education and transportation.
Problem: Transportation is the number one problem in Northern Virginia. Legislative help is needed in funding for completion of Metro, construction of the Dulles Toll Road, the Tysons Bypass and the Route 50/Gallows Road interchange. Also, a highway fund distribution formula is needed that gives Northern Virginia its fair share of transportation funds.