11th District: Candidates Talk Transportation, Federal Cuts
Dulles Rail, sequestration focus of Reston Candidates Forum.
Transportation funding, federal cuts and the economy were among the topics addressed during Wednesday night’s Reston Candidates Forum for Congress.
Candidates for Virginia’s 11th congressional District, including Republican Chris Perkins, and Independent Mark Gibson and Green Party candidate Joe Galdo, fielded questions from members of the local media (including Patch) during the hour-long event.
Notably absent from the event was the incumbent, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D), who was unable to attend this year.
The forum is sponsored by the Reston Citizens Association and Reston Impact, a local public affairs program that airs on Comcast's Reston Community Television, Channel 28.
The candidates began by presenting their views on transportation funding in Northern Virginia.
Perkins, a Republican and retired U.S. Army officer, said state and local governments should shoulder most of the burden for transportation projects, including construction of the Dulles Metrorail project.
“Part of the goal of the transportation projects being put in place is to build the local economy,” he said. “I think that the state and the local entities have the greatest role when it comes to transportation funding.”
Fairfax County’s bill for both phases of the project is expected to be between $900 million and $965 million, and there is a lack of federal dollars for the second phase from Reston to Loudoun County.
But Perkins said he thought the federal government’s $900 million contribution to Phase I showed their support of the project, and he would wait to see what officials decided on Phase II funding.
Gibson, an independent candidate and small business owner from Fairfax, partially agreed state and local governments should be expected to fund transportation infrastructure, but said the feds should foot the bill for interstate measures.
“The federal government’s presence here in the nation’s capital has given it a great deal of prosperity,” he said. “We need to give back a little.”
Joe Galdo, a Green Party candidate who has worked for the Department of Energy and Department of Defense, thought there should be more federal dollars for projects.
“I think that we need to push the government to step up to the plate and help the localities and state pay for the system,” he said. “I feel that the federal government should have provided more funds for the extension to the Dulles Airport. There’s no way that the state and local governments can do this by themselves.”
The Economy and Sequestration
Massive federal cuts could go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, and as many as 200,000 jobs in Virginia could be at risk as a result of sequestration.
As a small business owner and economist, Gibson said he would like to see the local economy more diversified and less reliant on the federal government.
“We need to transition to a more diversified economy that is less heavy on the federal government and more in the private sector,” he said.
Galdo and Perkins supported a slight reduction in the federal workforce, but not at the level sequestration would force. Galdo said sequestration cuts would be “devastating.”
“There’s no question that we have to avoid that,” Galdo said.
Perkins also said in order for small businesses to get off the ground and thrive, the government needed to reduce regulations on them.
“They need access to capital,” he said.