Two political neophytes are challenging local Del. Kristen J. Amundson (D) in Fairfax County's 44th House District, an area of the county expected to undergo rapid change in the next few years because of an influx of military jobs planned for Fort Belvoir.
The three candidates -- Amundson, Republican Greg B. Scoma and Green Party candidate Glenda Gail Parker -- have differing views on how the district should handle changes expected with some 20,000 new military personnel that would be reassigned there under recommendations made recently by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC.
Parker, 58, a retired budget analyst, has made the hallmark of her campaign the need for transportation upgrades to relieve congestion around Route 1. Traffic would only get worse with the arrival of thousands of workers at Belvoir, analysts say. Parker favors developing a light-rail system from the Huntington Metro station to the military post as a way of reducing congestion.
"We need rail anyway, and the BRAC decision exacerbates the need for us to deal with the situation," Parker said.
Scoma, 45, a security consultant, said he favors using existing -- and long unused -- tracks to the post to create a low-cost transportation solution.
And Amundson, 55, said that it is too early to make transportation adjustments, because the decision on the military and civilian personnel expected at Fort Belvoir has not been finalized by Congress, she said. Some could be working on Fort Belvoir's main campus; others could be assigned to the post's Engineer Proving Ground, which is closer to the Franconia-Springfield Metro stop, she said.
Amundson is a former member and chairman of the Fairfax County School Board who has served in the House of Delegates since 2000. Education remains one of her top priorities, she said.
She cites her sponsorship of recent legislation that encourages school districts to use outside auditors to examine their noninstructional spending. So far, 14 districts have had the audits done and have found savings of 5 percent on average. Amundson calls the measure one of her main accomplishments. She also hopes to introduce a bill in the coming session that would close loopholes in notification laws that apply to sex offenders from other states who move to Virginia, she said.
Scoma, a former Marine who also worked for a time as a police officer at George Washington University, said he was inspired to become a candidate for the House of Delegates during tax week in April, while he was mailing his income taxes.
"Going door-to-door, I've heard people talking about sacrificing food and medicine or being forced from their homes because of high taxes," he said. He supports a cap on property taxes, akin to Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore's plan for an amendment to cap increases at 5 percent a year. Average residential tax bills have risen more than 70 percent in Fairfax County in recent years.
A Spanish speaker, Scoma hopes to reach out to the area's burgeoning Latino community. He said he feels a special affinity for immigrants; he is married to a Romanian, Rodica, who is working on obtaining her citizenship.
Parker, the mother of three grown children, said she wanted to run as an Independent for the Green Party to enliven community debate. More than 51 candidates for the House of Delegates are running unopposed this year, she noted.
"I'm running because we need more candidates and less apathy," she said. "The way to have a good healthy debate of the issues . . . is to run candidates for office."
In addition to her support of light rail to Fort Belvoir, she said, her top priority is "beautifying" the district with additional trees and landscaping.