Taxpayer advocate to square off against legislator

Republican Arthur Purves, left, will take on state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) in the Nov. 5, 2019, general election.

It’s an uphill battle, to be certain, but Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance president Arthur Purves will take on, as a Republican ,seven-term incumbent state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) in the Nov. 5 election.

The district snakes from Howell’s home turf of Reston eastward into portions of Arlington.

Purves, a retired computer programmer and longtime Vienna resident, said he was running because Howell “believes that taxes solve problems.” He also disagrees with the senator’s support for abortion rights, Family Life Education, the Equal Rights Amendment (“every personnel decision could be challenged in court as sexual discrimination”) and gun-control measures.

“Her gun-control solutions miss the major cause of homicides: absentee fathers,” he said.

Purves would tie state education funding to achievement and help close the minority-student achievement gap by focusing on reading, math and history in kindergarten through third grade. He would make school-staffing standards optional to give local school boards more spending control, but also would end those boards’ veto authority on charter schools.

Purves previously has made seven unsuccessful bids for local and state offices. He lost to Stuart Gibson in the 1995 election for the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board and ran as an independent candidate for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman in 1999, losing to incumbent Katherine Hanley (D).

Purves lost a 2001 primary for the Republican nomination in the 35th District House of Delegates race to incumbent Jeannemarie Devolites (now Davis); failed in another bid against Gibson in 2003 for the Hunter Mill District seat on the School Board; came up short in a three-way Republican primary in 2005 for the 35th District House of Delegates seat, which was won by James Hyland; and in 2007 lost another run for the 35th District House of Delegates seat against incumbent Stephen Shannon.

His last run for office was as a Republican candidate for Board of Supervisors chairman against  incumbent Sharon Bulova (D).  Purves noted that he spent only $17,000 during that run and garnered 34 percent of the vote.

“Most campaign spending is unnecessary,” Purves said. “The need for large campaign budgets is a myth perpetuated by large donors who want to control elected officials.”

Jim Ruland, a Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance board member, said he supports Purves because of the candidate’s views on education, taxes and gun control.

“He clearly states his positions and stands by them,” Ruland said.

Laura McConnaughey, a retired Fairfax County Public Schools math teacher, favors Purves’ candidacy because of his views on fiscal responsibility.

“He wants to run something lean and mean,” she said. “He doesn’t want to raise taxes, he wants to look for other solutions . . .  I want somebody who speaks what they believe in and what they are willing to do and stand behind, not someone who’s trying to placate everybody in the nation.”

Howell stood by her 27-year record in the state Senate and said she was running to “represent the progressive values of most people in the 32nd District.”

“I will work to combat climate change, protect women’s reproductive rights, pass responsible gun-control measures, increase the state’s commitment to affordable and permanent supportive housing, increase the minimum wage and guarantee the rights of everyone who lives in Virginia,” she said.

  “As the first woman to serve on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, the first and only woman budget conferee, and the ranking Democrat, I have significant influence on the budget,” Howell said. “In fact, when the Democrats take the majority in the Senate, I will become the committee’s chair.  My mission will be to spend taxpayers’ money wisely, focusing on education at all levels, services for people with mental-health and substance-abuse illnesses, transportation funding, public safety and economic development.”

All 40 state Senate seats and 100 House of Delegates seats, as well as a passel of local races including the Board of Supervisors and School Board, will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

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