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The race for Virginia’s 37th District House of Delegates seat is pitting two longtime community leaders against each other.

Del. David Bulova (D) is seeking re-election to a fifth term representing the City of Fairfax and surrounding areas of Fairfax County.

“This is a continuation of my volunteer service to the community that I grew up in,” he said.

Republican challenger Patrice Winter, a former Fairfax city councilwoman who has been active in multiple community organizations, said she has been encouraged to run for higher office in the past but the timing wasn’t right.

“This time, I didn’t have an excuse when I was asked,” she said.

She said she would bring a broad base of experience to the position of delegate, given her professional background as a physical therapist and a small business owner and her current faculty position at George Mason University.

As someone who has dealt with Medicare and Medicaid billing professionally, Winter said that the state needs to improve its Medicaid system before expanding it.

If they expand it now, “There are not enough providers, the system will be overwrought and people across the spectum will be affected,” she said.

In a compromise agreement during this year’s General Assembly session, legislators formed a panel to decide whether the state should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility. The panel is also charged with looking at possible reforms to the system.

“Behind the scenes, it was a very bipartisan issue,” said Bulova, who supports the expansion. If the state doesn’t change its eligibility, he said, billions of dollars will end up going to other states instead.

On other issues, Winter and Bulova have more in common with one another.

Both say they have ability and experience working across party lines — Bulova in the House of Delegates and Winter on the nonpartisan city council and with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments — and say they strive to make the voice of average constituents heard in Richmond.

Both also generally support the transportation funding bill that was enacted this year.

“Is it perfect? Probably not, but its a start,” Winter said.

Bulova, like some other Northern Virginia legislators, says he would try in the next session to repeal one portion of the bill — a new fee on hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

He also says there may need to be some adjustments to give smaller localities, like the City of Fairfax, some more flexibility on how they spend newfound transportation dollars.

As of the last fundraising reporting period June 30, Bulova had raised about $96,000 and Winter had raised about $25,000.

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com