Incumbent first-term Democratic Del. Steve Shannon (VA 35th) is up against Republican challenger Jim Hyland for the 35th district in the Virginia House of Delegates. The 35th district includes the Town of Vienna and part of Fairfax County (including Oakton and Dunn Loring).

While the Commonwealth of Virginia is in crisis with regard to both education and transportation, it is the transportation issues which most affect the 35th district today and most urgently need attention. Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, DC, metro area has some of the worst traffic in the United States, and it is growing more unbearable by the week. The environment, economy, and quality of life is degrading as millions of people spend hours of their day in gridlocked traffic or a disintegrating mass transit system. Richmond must do better.

The 35th district needs a strong advocate in the House of Delegates for a sea-change in Virginia’s transportation policy, and Shannon has done little to set things straight. The representative of this district cannot merely rubber-stamp the ineffective transportation plans put forth by Governor Mark Warner (D) or gubernatorial candidates Jerry Kilgore (R) and Tim Kaine (D). Our representative must bring a concrete, original, and effective transportation plan to the table for Northern Virginia.

Therefore I firmly endorse Jim Hyland for 35th District Delegate.

While I wish Hyland would fully explain his stances on education and other issues, his seven-point transportation plan is the first one I’ve seen in this entire election cycle that would actually benefit the 35th district and the rest of Northern Virginia. (Shannon, on the other hand, isn’t explaining hardly anything—he hasn’t even launched a campaign website!)

Hyland stands firm against Northern Virginia’s tax money being diverted from our transportation needs to subsidize frivolous projects elsewhere in the state (like a planned 20 million dollar upgrade to rest stops). He supports eliminating bottlenecks on I-66 and opening our idiotic ‘shoulder lanes’—lanes which are only open during certain times of the day—permanently. He supports cheap and effective efforts to ease backups like improving traffic light timings and lengthening turn lanes at key intersections.

Additionally, Hyland would work to complete the long-unfinished Fairfax County Parkway, demand that the District of Columbia communicate with surrounding governments regarding road closures that affect the entire region, improve the dismal mismanagement at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, Metro), and push the Commonwealth of Virginia to contribute its fair share to our transportation projects.

These are all things that I have advocated myself time and time again, and they are all absolutely necessary to begin easing the paralyzation of Northern Virginia.

I recognize that Hyland would be only one representative out of 100 in the House of Delegates, and the chances of his transportation plan becoming reality are—sadly—quite slim. But the 35th district deserves an advocate who will argue for our benefit in the face of a rural majority that seeks to redistribute the spoils of Northern Virginia’s productivity to their middle-of-nowhere bypasses and rest stops. Steve Shannon has not been that advocate, and it is time for a change.