There are two newcomers in the 33rd District House of Delegates race this year. Democrat Mary Daniel is a lawyer and lifelong resident of the northern Shenandoah Valley. Her opponent is Dave LaRock, a general contractor who beat out 20-year incumbent Joe May in the June 11 Republican primary.
May was known as a popular and moderate official within the Republican party, but LaRock won handedly with more than 57 percent of the votes in the primary.
The 33rd District runs from the outer portion of Leesburg to the outer portion of Winchester and includes the Loudoun areas of Purcellville, Lovettsville and Round Hill. The district was solidly Republican in the 2012 election, with Mitt Romney and George Allen both receiving more than 55 percent of the vote.
Mary Daniel is a breed of Democrat specific to rural Virginia. She holds a concealed weapons permit and she considers herself fiscally conservative. She also has a history in the community having prosecuted domestic assault cases as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for the City of Winchester.
While her personal take on the issues has been harder for her to make clear to voters, Daniels believes she has more in common with the average constituent in the 33rd District than LaRock.
"As a fiscal conservative and social moderate, I am far more in touch with the electorate of the 33rd," she said.
"There is no glory in the middle, no big fantastic press opportunities in the middle. It's about working hard and getting the job done," she said.
Daniel believes the transportation bill was "one of the more important pieces of legislation that has been accomplished by this legislature."
Citing the fact that the last comprehensive transportation bill was in 1986, Daniel says something had to be done.
She conceded that some parts of the transportation package were better than others, but it was a compromise bill and "we probably came out okay." Daniels cited the 3,000 bridges in Virginia in need of repair as proof of this deficit in prior funding.
In terms of the economy, Daniel believes figuring out high-speed Internet and working with regional planning will make it easier for businesses to do business in the 33rd District.
She also believes agro-tourism is a space where her district could expand economically.
One of the things that both LaRock and Daniel agree on is that standardized testing isn't working. Daniel says, "We need to be teaching kids things they can use in the real world, not how to take a standardized test."
Daniel says she decided to run for delegate on June 11, the day Dave LaRock won the Republican primary over Joe May.
She saw LaRock as a candidate who "had no prior experience, who had gotten a lot of his facts wrong in the primary and who had relied more on showboating."
Dave LaRock believes the most important issue in the campaign will be the economy. Responding to a written inquiry, LaRock stated, "My priorities are holding the line on taxes and spending, while at the same time advocating for the continuous improvement of our schools, insisting on our fair share of transportation funding to ease traffic congestion and standing up to federal overreach."
This belief in "more responsible spending" translates to transportation issues as well. An advocate for performance-based funding for transportation projects, LaRock was a vocal opponent of the Silver Line.
"Virginia needs a ranking system to prioritize transportation spending," he said, also pointing out that the Federal Transit Administration ranks projects based on "cost per new rider."
The National Federation of Independent Businesses has endorsed LaRock, who for over 30 years has been a small business owner and would like to see cuts in regulations on small businesses, keep taxation down and work for "small-business-friendly legislation."
LaRock and his wife, Joanne, are active in the local home school network.
As for public schools in the area, LaRock would like to see the 33rd District "promote flexibility and innovation in the classroom and stop forcing teachers to 'teach to the test,'” he said.
On the issue of ethics reform, LaRock thinks the campaign contribution disclosure system works well, but he did add, "Clearly there needs to be better disclosure of (and possibly limits on) personal gifts to elected officials."
When asked about the role of social issues in the campaign LaRock said, "Mary Daniel is spreading baseless claims about me without doing her research. It is also very insensitive to use this ploy as a campaign tactic."