Description: The House of Delegates has legislative power, with the Senate, to enact laws. Delegates serve a 2-year term and are eligible for reelection. The salary is $17,640 per year. A delegate must be at least 21 years old at the time of election and be a resident of the district he/she seeks to represent.
Vivian E. Watts
Address: 8717 Mary Lee Ln, Annandale
Education: BA, English, University of Michigan, cum laude, with minors in mathematics and psychology
Occupation: Retired Executive Director, Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Experience: Delegate 1996- and 1982-85; Virginia Secretary of Transportation & Public Safety 1986-90; research analyst with major national accounting firms, U.S. Justice Department, and Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. Community service includes: Washington Post Citizen of the Year; Fairfax Arts Council Board; Annandale Salvation Army Board; League of Women Voters President; Virginia Chamber of Commerce Transportation Chair; Victim/Witness Board Chair; PTA President. Wife. Mother.
Q: What are your views on Virginia’s current financial and gift disclosure laws for elected state officials and candidates; what changes, if any, would you support?
A: Increase penalties for multiple acts. Include household members in law prohibiting gifts “for services performed within the scope of official duties” or “that reasonably tends to influence him in the performance of official duties” or travel payments exceeding IRS deduction. Change reporting form excluding gifts from a “personal friend” to reflect actual law. But, it’s not loopholes -ie,“members of immediate family” does cover “spouse and any other person residing in the household”- it’s honor.
Q: What legislation, if any, will you support to rebalance state and local resources and authority to provide critically needed community services, such as education and mental health?
A: In negotiating the ongoing transportation funding package last year, it was crucial to defeat the proposal to take $280 million a year from education, mental health, and other basic programs. We must fight efforts to repeal this. In addition, urban counties should be treated the same as cities regarding financing authority and Northern Virginia’s high cost of living should be reflected in all state funding formulas – as it is in the 22% increased pay for state troopers assigned to the region.
Q: What improvements, if any, do you propose to the way the Commonwealth conducts redistricting?
A: Since 2000, I’ve supported legislation to create an independent bi-partisan commission because packing the minority party strength into as few districts as possible has contributed to political polarization and low voter turnout. Creating safe districts results in elected officials voting to avoid a narrow-focused primary challenge, rather than focus on reflecting the broader views of the general electorate. A Constitutional amendment is needed to establish a timely process that must be followed
Q: What is your legislative priority for the next General Assembly session?
A: I am closely monitoring expenditure of the increased transportation funding to make sure it’s targeted to most effectively address congestion, transit service, and crumbling streets. In addition, adopting a 2-year budget is a major focus of the 1st year of a Governor’s term. I’m most concerned about restoring education funding to pre-2008 state per pupil spending and assuring that essential services for intellectually and developmentally disabled are available in the most appropriate setting.