Four candiates are running for three House of Delegates seats in the 22nd District's Democratic primary June 14, but the real contest is between two Arlingtonians who have yet to hold public office.
Incumbent delegates Mary A. Marshall (D-Arl.) and Warren G. Stambaugh (D-Arl.) are running as a team and sending out joint campaign literature, and both seem relatively assured of renomination in the primary.
Running for the seat vacated by Del. John L. Melnick (D-Arl), who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Attorney General, are James F. Almand, a 28-year-old assistant Commonwealth's Attorney in Arlington, and Marianne S. Karydes, the 43-year-old former chairman of the Arlington Manpower Planning Council.
While there seems to be little distance separating Almand and Karydes in terms of their stands on issues confronting Arlington, both candidates make a point of the different backgrounds and credentials they would bring with them to next year's General Assembly session.
Almand stresses the fact that he is the only attorney running in the primary. Nothing that much of the General Assembly's work is accomplished through its committees, he promises in his campaign literature that, if elected, he would seek appointment to the Assembly's powerful Courts of Justice committee, to which, traditionally, only lawyers are appointed. Arlington is currently represented on that committee by Melnick.
Karydes, on the other hand contends that "the General Assembly is already full of lawyers," and said that she has a "broader and deeper background" in the issues confronting Arlington as a result of her extensive involvement in school and community affairs.
Politically, Almand said he has worked closely with the county Democratic party and served in 1975-76 as Virginia state president of the Young Democrats. Almand also cites his work at the General Assembly coordinating the legislative program of Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney William Burrough.
Karydes said she has worked extensively with the league of Women Voters on county and governmental issues, and with a plethora of school committees, consumer groups and the Arlingtonians for a Better County, the organization that provided Rep. Joseph Fisher (D-Va.) with his political roots. Last year she served as manager for County Board member John Purdy's successful campaign for re-election.
All four candidates rate Arlington's need for more local autonomy in raising revenue and in deciding such issues as an elected as opposed to an appointed school board as one of the most important issues to be decided by the General Assembly.
A "more flexible taxing power," noted Marshall in response to a Washington Post questionnaire, "will enable local governments to prevent increases in the cost of government from falling on property tax payers." In addition, she noted that under the present system, "Arlington cannot even change dog license rates. Since dog license fees are set by state law there is no possibility for Arlington to set higher rates for un-neutered dogs."
In addition, Marshall cites reform of the medicaid program as a top priority issue, while Almand feels that greater state assistance to Metro, which would then free up more local revenue, is crucial. Karydes said that educational issues are high on the list and Stambaugh lists tax reform, both local and state and the improvement of legislative oversight and control of state government as primary legislative objectives in the upcoming session.
Each candidate has specific ideas concerning Virginia's tax laws. Stambaugh, who has been on the Finance Committee for the last four years, said he would support a progressive corporate income tax, conversion of the personal property tax to a pro-rata basis, elimination of the tax on food and non-prescription drugs, a business tax that would be levied on net incomes rather than gross receipts, and property tax relief for the elderly.
In addition, Stambaugh said he would favor "a change making the personal income tax laws which now discriminate against the middle-income taxpayer more progressive by replacing the current single bracket with three different income brackets.
Marshall favors a five-cent cigarette tax which, she said, would produce $25-30 million per year and reduce the activity of organized crime and the smuggling of cigarettes from Virginia and North Carolina to the states which have a high tax on cigarettes.
Karydes would also like to see the tax to food and non-prescription drugs removed and a tax on businesses' net incomes rather than gross receipts. In addition, she would like to "adjust the inequity of assessments between residential commercial and apartment buildings."
Almand, also favors a progressive income tax and an end to the food tax and in addition would favor a state lottery which, he said, could raise 20 to 30 million dollars "from those who choose to give it."
All four candidates find their races somewhat over-shadowed by the statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. With two Arlingtonians running in statewide races (Melnick for Attorney General and Del. Ira Lechner (D-Arl.) for lieutenant governor) the amount of attention, voter interest and volunteers for the delegate race appears limited.