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Plum, Cannon Tackle Issues Facing Reston, State

Candidates for Virginia delegate talk Dulles Rail, public schools at forum.

Del. Ken Plum (D) and Mac Cannon, Plum's Republican challenger, talked about issues ranging from education to transportation to a woman's right to choose at a taping of Comcast Channel 28's Reston Impact public affairs show on Friday.

Here are some of the highlight's of the debate:

Rail to Dulles: 

Plum: "It is really unfortunate that the nation's capital does not have an airport rail connection. The Federal government has got to step up to the plate for Phase 2."

Plum, Reston's representative since 1982, pointed out that when Metro was built in DC in the 1970s, the Federal contribution was 80 percent. The Federal government contributed 20 percent to Phase 1, which is more than halfway constructed. The commitment so far for Phase 2, to run from Wiehle Avenue in Reston to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County - is $0.

Plum added he is committed to keeping tolls low. He said that forecasts of $17-plus tolls are "bogus" and are looking 30-50 years into the future.

Said Cannon: "I want it finished."

Cannon, who estimates he spends $725 a year to commute by car to his job near Tysons Corner. "But there is going to be a cost that has to be paid. If the numbers pan out, it will be a 500-percent increase in tolls."

No Child Left Behind and Virginia Public Education:

Both candidates agree that the 2002 Federal legislation has harmed schools more than helped it, resulting in teachers teaching to the test and unfair benchmarks to measure progress.

"It was a mistake to move the Federal government into the schools the way NCLB did," said Plum, who advocates indivualized instruction for students.

Cannon said he is in favor of public-private partnerships and vouchers for more flexibility in choosing schools.

"We need to find other ways to educate children," said Cannon, who also ran against Plum in 2009.

On "Obamacare" helping Virginia families:

Plum says state programs have already resulted in thousands of families getting access to health insurance.

"As we create larger pools of workers [in Virginia's strong economy], I don't think this will result in higher insurance premiums."

Cannon said he does not believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act "is the right solution for us."

"Whether you think it is a good idea, I don't think we can afford it," he said. "I think we need to make sure we take care of the less fortunate, and live healthy, but how you pay for it is something we need to tackle."

On Gov. Bob McDonnell's recent legislation making abortion clinics follow strict hospital guidelines:

Cannon says he agrees with the legislation, which was backed this summer by the Virginia Department of Health and will likely go into effect next year.

"There is nothing I would do to repeal it," he said. "The clinics should be regulated."

Plum says he voted against the bill and other similar to it.

"It is not a good idea," he said. "This is really over-reaching government, which is ironic coming from people who are against over-reaching government."

The full debate will air on Comcast Channel 28 Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 8:30 p.m.

Rob Whitfield October 08, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Since 1998, Delegate Ken Plum has been Chairman of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association. Patti Nicoson, its Executive Director, was appointed two years ago to head the Reston Master Plan Update Task Force by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, Chairman of the WMATA Board (Metro). The DCRA Board is dominated by major Tysons Corner and Dulles Corridor commercial property owners, most of whom will profit massively in the next decade from rail and associated rezoning at levels 5 to 10 times the current zoning density. In Tysons Corner alone, land value profits will be in the range of $5 to $10 billion over the next 10 years, assuming an average 6.0 FAR around transit stations and $80 per FAR foot value by 2020. Dulles Rail Phase 2 has never been shown to be remotely economically or financially feasible. Ask Plum to show you a report that shows that the project is feasible.The most recent Dulles Rail MWAA report dated July 11, 2011, reflecting recent USDOT negotiations, projects that with TIFIA financial assistance from the federal government, tolls will rise from $2 each way today to a range of $6.21 to $6.82 each way in 2018, $8.05 to $8.84 each way in 2023 and $15.41 to $16.92 in 2043. The toll rates would be higher without TIFIA assistance. Plum may see $17 tolls as bogus. Many residents see Dulles Rail Phase 2 and its proponents as bogus. Fairfax taxpayers face $100 million in annual rail operating deficits plus $Billions for Tysons and Reston infrastructure improvements.
Rod's Sharpening Service October 09, 2011 at 09:12 AM
Plum is going to bury this region in dept! We could of had the "technical buses" and already had far more effective mass transportation. I rode a technical bus in Boston and it was great and safer then our rickety complicated Metro.
Ronald Sarson October 10, 2011 at 12:27 AM
Plum has never missed a chance to enact new taxes or raise the existing ones. He seems to live for it.
Kenneth R. "Ken" Plum October 10, 2011 at 10:04 AM
Since I have been in office, Virginia has achieved the 45th lowest state tax rate compared to income in the Nation and the status as best state for doing business. Since I am not on the Finance Committee and no bills to raise taxes ever get to the floor of the House of Delegates, how do I vote for tax increases? Or do the facts matter in a political discussion?

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