Most Alexandrians vote in Virginias 45th House of Delegates District. This year, incumbent Democrat David Englin is being challenged by Republican Mark Allen.
Englin grew up in a military family, living abroad for most of his childhood while his mother worked in childhood education in the Department of Defense public school system. He joined the Air Force at age 17 and earned a Bachelors of Science degree in history from the Air Force Academy and then went on to earn a masters degree in public policy from Harvard Universitys John F. Kennedy School of Government. He remained in the Air Force until 2004.
About the same time he left the Air Force, Englin settled in the Del Ray area and got involved in the political arena by working on the citys Affordable Housing Advisory Committee before winning a seat on the General Assembly by 68 percent against a Republican candidate. Since 2004, Englin has worked with groups such as Alexandria Veterans for Kerry, the Alexandria Democratic Committee and the Del Ray Citizens Association.
Items on his agenda for his first two years in Richmond included affordable housing, public health and local control, opposing the Dillon Rule that the state is mandated under. Currently, he is on the Privileges and Elections Committee, the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee and subcommittees to improve math, science and technology education.
His viewpoint as a stay-at-home dad gives Englin a look into the world of pre-school education and the need for parental involvement. One idea he plans on presenting is a mandatory four hours of leave for parents each year to use for a school-related activity. Were not going to strengthen our performance at schools if we dont get parents involved, he said. Hes advocating with Governor Tim Kaine to have pre-kindergarten classes throughout the state to save money in special education, foster care and the court system down the road. Its a sound economic investment, he said.
Quality of life
Recently, Englin worked with the community of Jefferson Manor along Telegraph Road, where affordable housing is still available, to preserve this community and improve the roads and sidewalks and improve peoples quality of life, he said. Finding affordable housing options in the district is one thing on his agenda to preserve the diverse fabric of the community, he said.
The Mirant Plant is another item on his to-do list, with Englin advocating shutting down the plant completely.
Some of the things Englin is behind cost additional money and with the real estate market down and the amount the state will get in the coming year also down, he is behind a new system of state funding that would abolish real estate taxes entirely and have the state and localities rely on income tax.
I want to give local governments the option, he said. For this to happen, the state needs to sidestep the Dillon Rule, which has been talked about across the board in Richmond. Theres bi-partisan support to give local governments more power, he said.
One example of the Dillon Rules futility involved an issue where the General Assembly addressed the length of grass on homeowners yards, which is addressed by the Dillon Rule. That ought not to be something were addressing in the General Assembly; Id rather be focusing on transportation and education, he said.
In addition to having a focus on the issues facing the General Assembly in Richmond, Englin bides his time with taking care of his son Caleb, freelance writing and immersing himself in the Del Ray community.
Allen moved to the Washington metropolitan area in 1976 after graduating from the University of Missouris journalism school and to Alexandria four years later. He attended Georgetown Law School at night and after working in Washington for a couple of years, opened his own law firm in Alexandria in 1983. In addition to his law practice, Allen owns a real estate title company, also located in Old Town.
He has served on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the past eight years; is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Outdoor Foundation and is a past member of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Allen and his wife, Elizabeth, live on Russell Road with their two teenage daughters who attend private school.
I am running because I want to bring a new brand of leadership to the 45th District, Allen said. I want to go to Richmond and work with delegates from both parties and from all corners of the Commonwealth to help build consensus, tone down the partisan bickering and get real results.
On the issues
Allen is running as a Republican but is pro choice, pro gun control and an avid supporter of protecting the environment. He is also willing to consider raising certain taxes.
Transportation: While I understand why the General Assembly passed the two regional transportation packages, giving locales the authority to raise local taxes and impose other fees, I believe the state needs to do more. The first thing that I will do if I am elected is prepare legislation repealing the so-called abuser fees. I do not believe that we should pay for our transportation needs with traffic fines. If we have to raise taxes to pay for transportation, we need to consider that, Allen said.
For almost 25 years I have run my own small business, met payrolls in good times and in not so good times and dealt with the hassles of government red tape. I want to make government run more like a business and that means setting priorities, cutting wasteful spending and holding agencies and bureaucrats accountable, Allen said.
Immigration is likely to be discussed once again considering legislation in Prince William and Loudoun counties. While Allen recognizes that immigration is primarily a federal issue, I will work hard to find the proper role for state authorities. We need to be sure that our law enforcement officers have access to the federal immigration data base and increase penalties for businesses convicted of hiring those that are here illegally, Allen said.
Each year, City Council asks members of Alexandrias legislative delegation to support the citys legislative package. There is certain to be a bill regarding Mirants Potomac River Generating Station, which the city hopes to close. I will work hard to see that the owners of this power plant adhere to all environmental laws and regulations and that it is as clean as it can be, Allen said.