Virginia’s House of Delegates 67th District is a classic Virginia swing district, supporting Democratic President Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009.
Current Del. Jim LeMunyon (R) was first elected to the seat in 2009, replacing a Democrat. The district includes portions of Chantilly, Centreville and Oak Hill, as well as the South Riding area of Loudoun County.
Democrat Hung Nguyen, a Fairfax resident who owns a small IT consulting business, is challenging LeMunyon in hopes of swinging the moderate district back in his party’s favor, focusing on education, transportation and small business growth as his top issues.
“I’m just a community guy who wants to get things done,” he said.
Nguyen cites the district’s changing demographics as one reason it’s ripe for a different leader — the district is about 22 percent Asian and 10 percent Hispanic, according to a 2011 analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project.
LeMunyon said the state has made progress in recent years on education and transportation. Now, it’s time to ensure that new policies and programs are working, rather than launching new initiatives, he said.
“We’re at a point where we want to make sure that the good intentions we had with these things are realized,” LeMunyon said.
One of his top priorities for the next session is overhauling the state’s tax code.
“We need to reform the personal tax side, the business tax side,” he said.
For example, he said the state’s income tax brackets are not automatically adjusted for inflation.
He also supports getting rid of local business taxes he believes are harming businesses because they are taxed on revenue, not profit. This would have to be done in a way that allows the localities to make up for the lost revenue, he said.
“That may require some study to figure out how that happens,” he said.
Nguyen’s ideas for helping small businesses include expanding an initiative that started under Gov. Tim Kaine (D) that makes it easier for small businesses to get state contracts. He also talks about trying to create more of a brand for the region to help with both attracting businesses and diversifying the economy by growing tourism.
“We have an airport. How can we get folks to go beyond driving down the Dulles corridor to D.C. for meetings?” he asked. “We have a lot of great intellectual capital, but we’re not promoting that.”
Regarding the transportation funding bill that passed into law this year, the candidates both want to monitor how the money is spent to make sure it is spent effectively.
“We need to be sure that people see tangible, positive results,” LeMunyon said. He cited a bill he helped pass in the 2011 session that requires a cost-benefit analysis on new transportation projects as an important tool for removing the politics from road projects.
Nguyen said voters in the 67th District are impatient with ongoing road projects in the district, like widening Route 50 and Stringfellow Road, and the focus should be on making sure current projects are completed expeditiously.
“Why start more construction fights when we have not even completed the ones we had,” he said.
The candidates also differ on the hybrid and alternative fuels registration fee that was included as a revenue source on the transportation bill.
Nguyen would like to see it repealed.
“I think that if folks are willing to be environmentally conscious … I don’t know why that vehicle needs to be targeted,” he said.
LeMunyon doesn’t support government incentives that would favor one type of technology over another. He said if the state wants to incentivize fuel efficiency, it needs to be done across the board.
“I’m sympathetic to people who want to reduce the hybrid fee … but I think there is a little more to the issue than that,” he said.