- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

Several activists and local leaders are vying in a crowded field to replace a retiring delegate from Northern Virginia in a race that vastly differs from the rest of the state.

There are six persons running in the Democratic primary for the 45th District, which includes parts of Alexandria, and Fairfax and Arlington counties. The race is the largest face-off in Virginia’s June 14 primary election.

In many other districts in the state, candidates oppose abortion and same-sex couple benefits and want to cut taxes. In the 45th District, candidates are pro-choice and are calling for increased homosexual rights and significant investments in education and transportation, which could lead to higher taxes.

Thewinner of the Nov. 8 general election will replace Delegate Marian Van Landingham, Alexandria Democrat, who is retiring for health reasons. Miss Van Landingham has served in the House since 1982.

The 45th District is mostly Democratic and delegates from that party think it will remain that way.

“Whoever wins on June 14 is a slam-dunk on November 8,” said Delegate Mark D. Sickles, Alexandria Democrat.

Mr. Sickles, who compared the 45th District with the Boston suburbs and Marin County north of San Francisco, said residents are highly educated, socially liberal and looking for a fiscally responsible, balanced budget from Richmond.

The resumes of the six candidates, who together have raised more than $200,000, reflect the diversity of the district.

Laura Mandala, a small-business owner and chairwoman of the Alexandria Commission on Women, is ahead in the fundraising. She has raised $72,971, according to campaign-finance reports posted on the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) Web site, www.vpap.org.

A former adjunct Georgetown University professor, Miss Mandala has spent $18,890, according to VPAP. Her largest contribution — $57,000 — came from Edward G. Spoden, who, according to published news reports, is her longtime significant other.

David Englin, a retired Air Force officer who is chairman of the Traffic Committee for the Del Ray Citizens Association, has raised $35,037 and spent $21,537. Mr. Englin also serves on the Alexandria Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.

Elsie Mosqueda, a longtime legislative aide to Delegate Brian J. Moran, is the only Hispanic candidate in the race and has raised $30,050 and spent $13,836. Prior to becoming the Alexandria Democrat’s aide in 1996, she was director of community and public relations for the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry.

James Lay, an Alexandria lawyer and former assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Alexandria, has raised $29,813 and spent $14,978. Mr. Lay is a former legislative assistant to Delegate Beverly J. Sherwood, Winchester Republican.

Arlington County School Board Chairwoman Libby Garvey, who has been on the board since 1996, has raised $29,788 and spent $17,910. She also is a member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Emergency Preparedness Council.

Former Delegate Richard Hobson, who held the seat from 1976 to 1980, wants to return to Richmond. Mr. Hobson, a lawyer, has raised $10,500 and spent $6,611.

All of the candidates want to see more rights and benefits afforded to same-sex couples, a view consistent with a majority of voters in that district.

The candidates also think the state legislature should do more to help the immigrant population.

Delegate Adam P. Ebbin is familiar with a crowded primary, having faced four challengers in 2003, when he won the party’s nomination to replace former Delegate L. Karen Darner, a Democrat who retired that year.

“In this kind of primary, people are rewarded for being outspoken and progressive,” said the Alexandria Democrat who represents the 49th District and is the only openly homosexual legislator.

Mr. Moran, who has endorsed Miss Mosqueda, said the 45th District is a breeding ground for politically active and civic-minded people who are familiar with government because of the district’s proximity to Capitol Hill.

He said the candidates are able to speak to their Democratic base because activists are the ones who vote in primary elections.

“On the Republican side, these voters are more conservative, and on the Democratic side, they are more liberal, and the candidates are running primary campaigns emphasizing either their conservative or liberal credentials,” Mr. Moran said.

Delegate Robert H. Brink, Arlington Democrat, who represents the 48th District, said the race allows the candidates to talk about “what government should be doing and what role it should be playing in people’s lives.”

He also applauded the candidates for talking about the state’s transportation needs.

Mr. Ebbin predicted a higher voter turnout for the 45th District race because each candidate will bring different circles of supporters to the polls. “The people here probably do acknowledge the relationship between investing in education and transit and that these things are not for free,” he said.

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