86th District Candidates Share Their History, Viewpoints

Special Election for member of the House of Delegates 86th District to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, a special election will be held to fill the unexpired term of the 86th District seat of the Virginia House of Delegates. The unexpired term ends Jan. 8, 2020. The 86th House of Delegate District includes 13 precincts in Fairfax County and two in Loudoun County. Only qualified voters of the 86th District are eligible to vote in this election.

The seat was left open when it was vacated by former Virginia State Delegate Jennifer Boysko (D) who succeeded Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D) in a special election on Jan. 8 for the Virginia Senate's 33rd District seat.

We invited the three candidates, Ibraheem S. Samirah, chosen as the Democratic nominee in the Jan. 12 firehouse primary, Gregg Garrett Nelson chosen as the Republican nominee on Jan. 19 at a mass meeting held in Dulles and Connie Haines Hutchinson, an Independent candidate who joined the race on Jan. 25 to take part in a survey to help inform district voters of the candidates' history, positions, and views. Candidates responded within a 500-word count limit.

Candidate Surveys

Responses printed as submitted.

Ibraheem Samirah (D)

Website: samirah4delegate.com

Phone Number: (202) 492-0034

Name: Dr. Ibraheem Samirah

Age: 27

Education: American University School of Public Affairs '13 and Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine '17

Family: My mother Sima is a Fairfax County Special Education teacher and my brother Omar goes to NVCC-Annandale.

Native of: Born in Chicago, Ill. and separated from my father at the age of 11, relocating to reunite with him in the country of Jordan until I had to separate from family at the age of 17, again, to become a native of the Northern Virginia area.

Moved to Herndon in what year? April 2018

1) Prior and current professional, political and civic experiences, community involvement

I have been active in advocating for the rights of all through many different organizations at the university level and throughout the DC metro areas. I worked for Environment Virginia to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Through an organization called Save The Children, I taught Iraqi refugees fleeing war for two years, catching them up on education they lost. I founded two affiliates of National Jewish organizations at American University that cooperation does exist across all supposed divides.

2) Why are you running? (Why are you doing this to yourself?)

Growing up, I enjoyed a typical American childhood. That all changed in middle school when my father traveled to Jordan to care for his ailing mother and was denied re-entry to the U.S. My family uprooted and relocated to stay together and fight for my father’s reinstatement. It took eleven years, but we won. The road to here has been hard, but also it awakened in me a strong sense of justice and of the power of the government to both help and hurt people. I want to be part of a system that helps people. And I want to help fix the system so it can help people because what we have now is broken.

3) What do you see as the top issues (up to three) in the 86th district and what solutions do you propose?

In my campaign, I target healthcare, education, transportation and the environment, all interwoven for the betterment of all. I will fight to expand the Virginia Department of Health programs, make Virginia’s health insurance market more stable, preserve the recently passed Medicaid expansion, lower prescription drug prices and curb the growing opioid epidemic. I support Virginia's Green New Deal: we cannot separate social, economic and environmental justice issues. Virginia has the opportunity to make major strides in eliminating poverty and ensuring prosperity in the Commonwealth by creating tens of thousands of good paying jobs in clean energy. I will also work to ensure that our public education system is fully funded, that Pre-K education is a right, that children always have access to a healthy meal, and that our post-secondary education institutions are accessible. I will pursue making our commutes better by decreasing travel times, lowering toll costs, expanding our public transportation systems, and encouraging public-private partnerships to make sure that all Northern Virginians benefit.

4) What do you see as the major challenges to these solutions in the General Assembly?

Unlimited ability of money to influence Virginian politics. We just find a way to put a cap on the contributions that can be made by any Virginian entity.

5) Key ways you differ from your opponents?

Given my age and background, I represent the hard-working future of Virginia. I see a Northern Virginia that has the two wealthiest counties in the US, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, representing not just the best of what Virginia has to offer, but the best of what the US has to offer.

6) How would you work across party lines?

I would appeal to the desire of all legislators to make healthcare better and more affordable, make commutes cheaper and less timely, make access to the best education for our children more possible and our environment to have the best treatment, for the benefit of all, not just Democrats.

7) What would likely be your first proposed piece of legislation?

I would be introducing bills that would aim to increase the participation of Virginians in the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces.

Gregg Garrett Nelson (R)

Website: Nelson4VA.com

Phone Number: 571-306-2216

Name: Gregg Garrett Nelson

Age: 63

Education: Some college, before joining the Air Force in 1974.

Family: Married to my wife, Lisa, to whom we have 6 children & 7 grandchildren.

Native of: Richland Center, WI

Moved to Herndon in what year? 2000.

1) Prior and current professional, political and civic experiences, community involvement:

I had the honor of starting my career serving our country for 22 years in the Air Force. Upon retirement from the military, I transitioned over to worked with the US Department of Agriculture. Years later, I moved over to the private sector, working in senior management for a computer manufacturing company. After which I fulfilled a lifelong dream of opening up a BBQ restaurant in Ashburn. Throughout my life, I have been active with my local Home Owners Association as a committee member and board member. When I had my restaurant, we were very active in supporting community activities i.e. little league, community fundraisers. Currently, I am self-employed with our family-operated company, ZN Ventures, Inc.

2) Why are you running? (Why are you doing this to yourself?)

My wife and I have lived in this community for over twenty years, our kids went to school here, and we’ve operated businesses here. Ultimately, after some thought and prayer my wife and I felt it was a perfect time in our lives to continue to give back to our community and government. Thus, I announced my candidacy for the Virginia House of Delegates.

3) What do you see as the top issues (up to three) in the 86th district and what solutions do you propose?

Education is essential in the development of our youth. We must continue to ensure that upon graduation our students have a marketable skill set that will help them flourish in our community. We need to expand the STEM program and add additional vocational training not just here in NOVA but across our Commonwealth.

Transportation is an issue we all can relate with. Wither it be being stuck in traffic, paying outrageous tolls or dodging pot holes. If elected to Richmond,I will work in a bipartisan way to make sure that our tax and toll monies get back into our community & road systems.

Lastly, our tax system needs addressing. Governor Northam’s plan to increase the state’s spending by $2.1 Billion is unstainable. Thankfully, Republican legislators have put forth HB 2529 & HB 2355. Which in a combined effort would save an estimated $575 Million in tax relief starting next fiscal year. If elected I would strongly support both of those bills.

4) What do you see as the major challenges to these solutions in the General Assembly?

Special interest groups and partisan politics have a tendency of hindering the growth of our Commonwealth. If elected, I would work with all members of the House so we can collectively pass legislation that will help our communities grow.

5) Key ways you differ from your opponents?

Personally, I would like to thank everyone who decided run for this seat. While we may have different opinions on issue or values, I believe every one of us deeply cares about our community.

6) How would you work across party lines?

I will work in good faith with fellow members so we can provide working resolutions for our needs throughout our Commonwealth.

7) What would likely be your first proposed piece of legislation?

I would like to work with other members to put forth legislation to uplift our education system with more vocational training within our school systems.

8) Other comments within the word count.

To the voters in the 86th District, it would be an honor to serve you and our community in Richmond. I hope I can earn your support on February 19th.

Connie Haines Hutchinson (I)

Website: www.conniehutchinson.com

Phone Number: 703-501-6282

Name: Connie Haines Hutchinson

Age: 64

Education Herndon High School 1972, Virginia Computer College 1973.

Family: Four adult children, seven grandchildren

Native of: Herndon, VA

Moved to Herndon in what year? 1954

1) Prior and current professional, political and civic experiences, community involvement:

Prior Founder and Executive Director of the Herndon Dulles Visitor's Center which operated for ten years out of the Historic Herndon Depot; and current General Manager for a Marketing, PR & Branding Firm in Arlington. Elected to seven terms on the Herndon Town Council, serving as Vice Mayor for two of those terms. A past President for the Dulles Area Transportation Association, past member of the Interjurisdictional Committee comprised of Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the Town of Herndon; Chairman of the Virginia Municipal League's General Laws committee, past President of Herndon Youth Soccer, past member of Herndon's Architectural Review Board and its Heritage Preservation Review Board, past Parent Teacher's Association President for Herndon Elementary School and past PTA Vice-President for Herndon Middle School, past NVSL Representative for the Herndon Hammerheads Swim Team; current Treasurer of the Herndon Hospitality Association and co-chair of it's popular JamBrew free fall concert series. (151)

2) Why are you running? (Why are you doing this to yourself?)

To continue to give back to my hometown and the surrounding area that has shaped my life. I think there is too much divisive partisan politics in today's government process and we need more open-mindedness and cooperation in order to get things done. (43)

3) What do you see as the top issues (up to three) in the 86th district and what solutions do you propose?

The top three issues I see facing this General Assembly session are abortion regulations, transportation funding, and the minimum wage. Allowing abortion in the third trimester equates to infanticide and is just WRONG and this issue should never be raised in the State Legislature again! Being one of the State's biggest economic engines should ensure that Northern Virginia gets its fair share of State transportation funding to lessen the congestion on our roadways; not just more toll lanes. The proposed raise in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour could have devastating effects on small businesses all across the State and a lower increase should be discussed. (107)

4) What do you see as the major challenges to these solutions in the General Assembly?

5) Major challenges: Democrats continuing to push to remove the current regulations on abortion; Transportation improvements and maintenance funding being based on 'lane miles' rather than congestion; and a lack of cooperation on both sides to consider a more reasonable increase to $8 per hour. (44)

6) Key ways you differ from your opponents? I am the only one with any legislative experience and I am not committed to following along party lines with every vote. I would be an INDEPENDENT thinker, open and willing to debate both sides of an issue in order to come to the best solution possible. (47)

7) How would you work across party lines? The same way I have worked with people on both sides of an issue during my time on the Herndon Town Council; by truly listening to the opposition's concerns, cooperating and collaborating by suggesting amendments or alternatives that address their concerns as well as my own. (46)

8) What would likely be your first proposed piece of legislation? Income tax relief for senior citizens, similar to the current real estate tax relief for seniors that is in effect so living on a fixed income is more affordable and we don't lose our seniors to states with a lower tax burden. (42)

Special Election Deadlines

Only 86th District voters are eligible to vote in this election

Feb. 12: Voter Registration Deadline (In-Person/By Mail) 5 p.m.; Online: 11:59 p.m.

Feb. 12: Deadline to apply to receive an Absentee Ballot by mail, fax and Online: 5 p.m.

Feb. 16: Deadline for In-Person Absentee Voting, 5 p.m.

Feb. 19: Absentee Ballot return deadline, 7 p.m.

In-Person Absentee voting locations are Fairfax County Government Center and Herndon Fortnightly Library. They are closed on Sundays.

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