On Tuesday, November 7, Virginia voters will cast their ballots for statewide office, state legislature, and some county positions. Greater Greater Washington recommends they vote for Ralph Northam for governor, Erik Gutshall for Arlington County Board, Danica Roem for Delegate in District 13 (Prince William/Manassas Park), and Kathleen Murphy for Delegate in District 34 (Fairfax/Loudoun).
To determine the endorsements, we surveyed our contributors for their views. Sixty-three percent of those who responded live in Virginia.
Ralph Northam for governor
It's true that the gubernatorial candidates, Northam (D) and Ed Gillespie (R), haven't made transportation a big focus of the campaign. However, that doesn't mean there aren't big differences, as well as on housing. Here's what some of our contributors said:
In 2013 Northam voted in favor of increased funding for transportation, understands the need to address housing affordability, and will deal with Metro funding issues. I trust him to appoint someone(s) to whatever form Metro governance may take going forward.
Gillespie seems to hate the 2013 transportation deal that actually did a lot of good for the state by unlocking a lot of the partisan gridlock in transportation planning and came up with a more rational system for prioritizing projects as well as providing more money.
Northam supports affordable housing initiatives and has connected this to systemic racism and policies that are meant to disadvantage people of color. He supports environmental conservation (some projects more than others). He believes climate change is real. Northam has supported rail to trail conversions and cast the deciding vote for a 2014 distracted driving bill.
The conclusion from some was that while Northam may not be the urbanist's dream candidate, he's likely to be pretty solid there, and good on things like the environment, while Gillespie would be quite bad:
Ed Gillespie's transportation plan is terrible. Northam doesn't even have one.
Northam isn't amazing on urbanism but Gillespie would be awful, and Northam is great on environment, equality, and other issues that matter to create livable cities.
Erik Gutshall for Arlington County Board
Erik Gutshall (D) faces two independents, Audrey Clement and Charles McCullough, to succeed retiring member Jay Fisette. We endorsed Gutshall in the primary and enthusiastically recommend voters send him to the county board.
Gutshall has served as chair of the Planning Commission and formerly served on the Transportation Commission. In both positions, extremely relevant to GGWash issues, he showed a strong understanding of the issues and a commitment to good policies.
Here's what our contributors thought:
Erik isn't just for smart growth, he has deep experience and a strong track record from his time on Arlington's Planning Commission and Transportation Commission. He's a strong advocate for missing middle housing, bike infrastructure and transit-oriented development.
He supports transit oriented development to increase housing stock and bend the cost curve.
Experienced planning commissioner, thoughtful about development, works in the construction industry, open to affordable housing needs, has advocated for a missing middle approach to filling in the gap between luxury and committed affordable housing.
Regarding the competition, contributors generally said McCullough just doesn't have the depth of experience or knowledge to do as well as Gutshall, while Clement's policies would take the county down a wrong road:
Charles McCullough lacks the necessary policy depth and experience. Audrey Clement is ostensibly an environmentalist who opposes transit oriented infill development.
Clement would advance affordable housing using historic districts (?!) to preserve existing moderating income units. McCullough focuses on the use of rental assistance vouchers for county workforce but has no general plan.
Danica Roem for Delegate
In the 13th district of the House of Delegates covering Manassas Park and part of Prince William County, Danica Roem (D) is challenging long-time incumbent Bob Marshall (R). Marshall is a fierce cultural warrior for the right; he wrote Virginia's amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman and he introduced the “bathroom bill” limiting transgender people's ability to use a bathroom matching their gender identity.
Meanwhile, Roem is herself transgender and is vying to be the first openly transgender member of the General Assembly. It's pretty likely these issues would overshadow anything about transportation or housing in influencing your vote, if you live in this district. However, we'll give you the urbanism policy angle anyway.
Roem is running in a pretty suburban area and it's not a big surprise her transportation issue brief (which is pretty extensive, actually) talks most about roads, specifically “fixing Route 28.” However, she also wants to extend VRE and talks about giving people more options than driving. That's pretty urbanist for a district where few voters live in a walkable urban place.
She does oppose tolling highway lanes, which is disappointing. To our knowledge, though, Marshall is no better on that. One contributor also pointed out that Marshall “voted against the 2013 transportation funding increase, [though he is] trying to take credit for it now.”
But even our contributors agreed that their biggest reasons for supporting Roem (nobody supports Marshall) are more that, as one put it, “He's socially to the right of Attila the Hun.”
Kathleen Murphy for Delegate
Along the Potomac River from McLean to Potomac Falls in eastern Loudoun is the 34th district, where Cheryl Buford (R) hopes to knock off Democrat Kathleen Murphy. Murphy took over the seat in 2016 after Barbara Comstock won election to Congress.
Contributors said Murphy is an “advocate for Metro funding and bike/ped improvements,” while Buford “supports widening I-66, opposes tolls on I-66, and supports widening the American Legion Bridge.” Unfortunately, Murphy also opposes tolls on I-66, which are actually smart policy (though unpopular with drivers who vote).
Another contributor said Murphy “is good on the environment in a district facing a lot of exurban development.” We see Murphy as a clear choice.
These are far from the only significant or competitive races in Virginia, but are the ones that some commenters identified when we discussed this previously, and the ones contributors had strong enough views about.
Are there other races you feel are important in Virginia?
This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington. To determine endorsements, we invite regular contributors and editors to participate in a survey about their preferences and opinions about upcoming races. The editorial board then decides whether to make an endorsement. (The process will change in 2018).