Wasting no time in what some have called the “fire drill election” for Virginia’s 48th House of Delegates District, Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican David Foster agreed to debate before the Aug. 19 special election.
Sullivan, who became the Democratic nominee at 10 p.m. Sunday, issued a call for a debate via Twitter and press release 12 hours later. Foster told the Post he had not heard from Sullivan’s campaign, but said, “I agree that a debate of the issues and candidate qualifications is important and will look forward to making the arrangements.”
Sullivan’s campaign manager said he’s looking for a third party to stage the debate.
The men, both attorneys for Washington law firms, are seeking to fill the seat of retiring Del. Robert H. Brink (D), who resigned June 30 to take a job with Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration. The winner of the special election will serve until the end of 2015.
Foster, in his nomination announcement, said if elected, he would introduce legislation to create a public referendum on Arlington controversial streetcar proposal, which he called “impractical and unaffordable. Roads and Metro, schools, and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than a half-billion dollar trolley.”
A number of local officials and residents have called for a vote on the proposal, but the County Board last month rejected the request, in part because it does not have the authority to stage an advisory referendum, and any other vote would require local taxpayers to assume more of the burden of the streetcar project’s cost.
Sullivan told the BlueVirginia blog last week that he supported the streetcar, “but only if Arlington can secure federal funding that doesn’t require the County to touch our general obligation funds.”
Foster, an Arlington native who served eight years on the Arlington School Board before being appointed to the state board of education, also outlined his plans to strengthen local public schools by protecting cost-of-living adjustments to state funding and increasing local control over school calendars and budgets. He also pledged to work for a solution to the Medicaid expansion controversy.
“If we put aside partisanship and focus on our common interests, I am confident that we can adopt a fiscally responsible Medicaid reform that will keep more of our tax dollars in Virginia, provide health care coverage to more Virginians, and protect the long-term solvency of the program,” he said in a statement.
Sullivan, a McLean resident who has never held elected office, has served on numerous boards. He was president of the Legal Services of Northern Virginia, served on the Fairfax Parks Authority and on the Board of Governors for the Virginia Bar Association.
“With more than 400,000 uninsured Virginians and women’s reproductive health under attack, voters have some important decisions to make in this election,” he said in his call for a debate. “I’m an issues-oriented guy, which is why I’ve served on boards and commissions dealing with housing, education, transportation, and legal policy over the last 25 years. I look forward to a substantive debate where we can talk about the issues we’ll face in Richmond.”
The strongly Democratic district, which winds north and west along the Potomac River from Reagan National Airport to the Chain Bridge and then into McLean, is split 69 to 31 percent between Arlington and Fairfax counties.