Commonwealth of Virginia

In the race to represent the eighty-seventh district in the Virginia House of Delegates, one-term incumbent Delegate John Bell (D-VA 87th) is challenged by local real-estate businessman Subba Kolla (R).

The Virginia House of Delegates is the oldest legislative body in the Americas, having been established (as the House of Burgesses) in 1619. Delegates must be at least twenty-one years old and residents of the district they wish to represent, and they are elected to two-year terms with no term limits. There are one hundred districts across the commonwealth. Today, the Republican Party holds an overwhelming sixty-six seat majority, and the Democratic Party holds thirty-four seats.

The house’s eighty-seventh district includes much of the eastern border area of Loudoun County and a small portion of northern Prince William County. Communities in the eighty-seventh district include Antioch, Arcola, Dulles, South Riding, and parts of Ashburn, Broadlands, Cascades, and Sterling.

Incumbent: John Bell (D)

Delegate John Bell

Incumbent Delegate John Bell (D-VA 87th) is nearing the end of his first term representing the eighty-seventh district in the Virginia House of Delegates, and stands for reelection as the Democratic Party nominee.

Bell enlisted in the United States Air Force immediately after high school, later earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Regis University and commission as an officer. He served as a finance officer, winning a number of awards for effective management and identifying cost savings. Bell retired from the Air Force in 2007, having served nearly twenty-six years, and then worked as a financial professional for a federal contracting firm.

After unsuccessful house campaigns in 2009, 2011, and 2013, Bell narrowly won election to the open eighty-seventh district seat in 2015.

If elected, Bell proposes expanding access to healthcare, strengthening equal-pay laws, weakening safety regulations for abortion clinics, enacting “common sense” gun safety laws, bringing education money back to northern Virginia, and buying back the Dulles Greenway from its corporate owners (who have repeatedly violated the terms of the agreement under which they operate). He also claims to be “fiscally responsible” and says that “government should respect your tax dollars.”

As is too often the case, details about his actual policy proposals are slim-to-nonexistent.

In the absence of details, we must assume that, despite claiming he “worked with Democrats and Republicans to put your values first,” Bell will continue to vote largely along the Democratic Party line. This means, following his list of priorities, he will oppose any efforts at the state level to reform or replace the disastrous Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as ObamaCare), undermine common-sense medical safety regulations at abortion clinics (that only require they operate the same as other outpatient surgical facilities), needlessly interfere with law-abiding citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, and increase funding for schools without making any effort to actually improve them. He may, indeed, try to encourage the Commonwealth of Virginia to buy back the Dulles Greenway . . . so that’s something.

Bell says that he supports women’s health, and yet he simultaneously fights against even the most innocuous clinic safety measures that are designed to protect women. And, more fundamentally, we must question the honesty and motives of anybody who claims that abortion is just one of many “private medical decisions.” Governments exist for the primary purpose of protecting the life, liberty, and property of its people. Life is the first one.

Challenger: Subba Kolla (R)

Subba Kolla

Subba Kolla (R) stands as the Republican Party nominee to represent the eighty-seventh district in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Kolla grew up in India and is the son of a cotton farmer. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, and then taught mechanical engineering in India. At the age of thirty, he, along with his wife and children, immigrated to the United States, where he earned an MBA and started a small real-estate business. He has also served as a volunteer member of the Loudoun County Board of Equalization.

Kolla became a U.S. citizen in 2008, and this is his first campaign for elective office.

It is difficult to determine what Kolla intends to do if he is elected. While his opponent, incumbent Delegate John Bell (D-VA 87th), fails to provide any details about his short list of “values,” Kolla has not posted even the barest summary of his positions. We must assume that he will generally vote along the Republican party line.

This means he will likely vote in favor of human rights and civil liberties, like the fundamental right to life, free speech, religious liberty, and the right to keep and bear arms. It also likely means he will vote for pro-business and low-tax policies. However, Virginia Republicans also tend to support replacing or “augmenting” our shared road infrastructure with privately-owned toll roads. Also, neither Republicans or Democrats in Virginia have made any serious effort to reform our education system.

Kolla says, “I may be relatively new to politics, but I am not new to hard work and looking out for ones neighbor.” This is a lovely sentiment. But it is hard to vote for a candidate who doesn’t provide us with any position or policy details. Having said that, we do know that Kolla seems like a nice guy, which is something. And he’s not John Bell, which is probably the most important thing of all.

Conclusion

Incumbent Delegate John Bell (D-VA 87th) has not served the the eighty-seventh district well. His positions are largely in line with the national Democratic Party, which has shifted far to the left and is starting to take the formerly-pragmatic and formerly-moderate Democratic Party of Virginia along with it. He stridently opposes at least two of the fundamental rights of Virginians—the right to life, and the right to keep and bear arms. It is likely that he opposes others, such as unrestricted free speech and religious liberty.

And even if this were not the case, Bell and the Democratic Party of Virginia have done little to improve the state of Virginia’s road infrastructure or our dysfunctional education system.

The problem is that his opponent, Subba Kolla (R), does not explicitly state his positions on any of these issues . . . or any others, for that matter. And the Republican Party of Virginia has also proved ineffective when it comes to improving transportation and education in the commonwealth. But we can assume, based on nothing more than party affiliation, that Kolla will be better than Bell on the key human rights issues of the day. It would be difficult to be any worse.

I endorse the election of Subba Kolla to represent the eighty-seventh district in the Virginia House of Delegates.