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June 18, 2011


Fairfax Volunteer

Some reasons:

1. It costs a LOT of time and money to run for public office, even for the House of Delegates. There aren't a lot of people who can afford either of those sacrifices (time and money), even if they wanted to run. A recession makes this much harder.

2. Being a member of the House of Delegates pays basically nothing and you lose 3 months a year from your job. There aren't a lot of employers that are terribly accommodating toward a situation like that - especially during a recession when every employee becomes potentially expendable.

3. Beyond the constitutional duties of the office, a 2-year election cycle means that members outside of safe districts never really stop campaigning for office and conducting community outreach. For constituents, this is a GOOD thing, as candidates in potentially competitive seats much continuously compete for their support. This is difficult, however, for those who are not independently wealthy and must both support their families and spend time with them.

4. The pay for a member of the House of Delegates is a complete and utter joke. The only people who can really afford to hold this job are the independently wealthy, those with extremely accommodating employers, and those primarily dependent on a spouse's income.

ALL of those factors are exacerbated during a recession.

Truly quality candidates who care a lot about their communities and have a desire to run for public office simply CANNOT run because they would be unable to provide for their families if they ran for office.

On the Dem side, the DPVA may seem to have been pathetically anemic when it comes to candidate recruitment (and maybe they have), but even on the Republican side where I'm aware of truly strenuous efforts, it's just REALLY hard to convince people to make a sacrifice that grave when their families and their employers have already fallen on hard times.

The fastest way to improve both the availability of candidates who are not independently wealthy and make those candidates just a TOUCH more independent of the lobbyist-fueled money scheme in Richmond?


Increase the salary for legislators.

Then, while RUNNING for office might remain an enormous burden and a tremendous risk, HOLDING office won't be such a non-starter for the average middle class individual who discovers they have a passion for service.

Alas, the public has been duped into believing that whenever legislators increase their pay, it is some form of dastardly kickback to give themselves a form of ill-gotten gain.

In reality, a low legislator salary is a form of incumbency protection, as it severely limits the opportunities for anyone but the independently wealthy from having a chance to unseat them.

Vivian J. Paige

I agree with FV above that there is a need to increase salaries.

But there is an even bigger problem: when districts are drawn in such as way as to favor one party over the other - and by a wide margin, as the new redistricting lines did - the ability for a member of the other party to win is significantly diminished.

(VPAP is down right now so I can't pull numbers)

Lack of competitiveness is probably the biggest flaw in partisan redistricting.


It might also help if House terms were longer. as FV said above its harder when you are running every two years. Good points by all though on this one

Brian W. Schoeneman

I appreciate the vote, Chris!

just saying....

Just for the record Hugo hasn't really had much of a challenge in the past. The D's came at him hard in 07, spending over $500,000 and he still got 57%. All other elections he has won with over 60%.

Also, I believe Villenueva does have an opponent.

David Poole - VPAP.org

It's a little early to know just how many of Virginia's 100 House seats will be contested this November. Candidates have until August 23 to file qualification paperwork with the State Board of Elections.

While the number of contested House races may turn out to be low, everyone should take a deep breath until we know for sure. In fact, VPAP just posted four new contested House races today.

David Poole
Executive Director
Virginia Public Access Project

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