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GOP’s Buford taking on incumbent Murphy in Virginia’s 34th House District

Democrat Kathleen Murphy was originally elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in January 2015 to represent the 34th District, which covers a swath of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Route 7, shifting the district blue after Republican Barbara Comstock was elected to Congress.

Republican challenger Cheryl Buford hopes to change that in the Nov. 7 election.

In an interview with the Times-Mirror, Buford said a top priority for her is education. She held a position at the Department of Education during the Bush administration, and she says her focus as delegate would be to find a way to increase education funding and allocate resources to support English Language Learner students.

“Education for students whose first language isn’t English needs to be addressed when it comes to the formula for funding. It’s costly to educate kids who are learning English. And if they’re not literate in their own language -- if they can’t read and write in their native language – it takes more to help them. That should be part of the funding formula,”
Buford said. “But you also can’t address education without considering the economy. It’s like Ronald Reagan always said: We shouldn’t be arguing over who gets a bigger or smaller piece of the pie. We need a bigger pie.”

Buford said Northern Virginia business owners “have real concerns about what going on in our economy.” She said that the economic environment in Virginia is fragile, but she used the GO Virginia initiative for economic development as an example of a bipartisan solution.

“It’s an initiative to spur collaboration on a local level,” she said.

Concerning rising tensions over Confederate monuments in Loudoun and Fairfax, Buford said that “the legislature should give back the responsibility to the local jurisdictions so they can have their own conversation in their own communities,” echoing Democratic Loudoun County Chairwoman Randall’s call for localities to be given more discretion over what becomes of those monuments.

As for what drove her to run, Buford said she was recruited by the party, but it’s also Barbara Comstock’s example that inspires her most.

“She’s my hero,” Buford said in the interview, as are Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. “I am a reasonable person, and I will work very hard.”

When asked about legislation Comstock championed that she was particularly fond of, however, Buford failed to name any.

During the 2015 election, Del. Murphy told the Times-Mirror that one of her top three priorities is education, including expanding full-day kindergarten. The two others were transportation, like the ongoing improvements to the Route 7 corridor, and gun safety measures.

This time around, Murphy also her sights set on issues like cybersecurity and veterans’ issues.

“We decided to put together a cybersecurity forum for small businesses [on Sept. 12] and we had some really wonderful experts, including Anup Ghosh, the founder and CEO of Invincea, Jamie Orey, who is an underwriter at Beazley, and John Wood, CEO of Telos, to talk about risk management and really to explain some things like ransomware attacks. Our keynote speaker was Virginia secretary of technology Karen Jackson,” Murphy told the Times-Mirror in an interview. “Cybersecurity was a top priority for me last year as well. I asked for a review to see where we stood in some of our current policies and procedures but the speaker didn’t allow any studies to go forward at all. So we’ll be bringing that forward again this year.”

When asked about full-day kindergarten, Murphy stressed the need for more funding, but also the need for schools to be built with full day kindergarten in mind.

“We’ve made progress on full-day kindergarten for sure, but the thing that really irritates me the most is the fact that we’re continuing to build schools that don’t have the capacity for full-day kindergarten,” she said. “If you build schools that don’t have the room and the resources for full-day kindergarten, when you do put it in place, more money has to be spent to retrofit the schools. It’s foolish.”

As for transportation, Murphy said it's a complex issue that takes up a lot of her and her staff's time.

“We need to make sure that neighborhoods that now have access to Route 7 are not being ignored. We’ve worked with VDOT for example on where they should build storm collection areas,” Murphy said. “I think I talk to VDOT more than I talk to my family.”

If past elections are indicators, the race between Murphy and Buford will be a close one. In the 2015 general election, Murphy defeated Republican Craig Parisot by less than 1 percent of the vote. More than 21,000 voters cast ballots.

Virginia voters will head to the polls this November to cast ballots for House of Delegates as well as governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.


Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @MsSophieDesmond.

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