Serving an area widely considered to be "safely Democratic", the 45th district in the House of Delegates is a hot open seat this year with the upcoming retirement of Delegate Marian Van Landringham, who has held this seat for Democrats since 1982. The 45th district consists of 13 precincts in Alexandria City, 6 precincts in Fairfax County, and 3 precincts in Arlington.
With six Democratic candidates currently in contention for the nomination, which will be decided in a June 14 primary, voters in the 45th have an opportunity to choose a courageous leader who will not only reliably vote the "right way", but who will stand up and serve as a champion of progressive Democratic values. Following the retirement of Delegate Mitch Van Yahres, the "conscience of the House", it's all the more important that progressive Democrats around Virginia help to elect a courageous and outspoken socially progressive, fiscally responsible leader in the 45th.
Current declared candidates include:
David Englin - a 12-year military veteran and Air Force Academy graduate, Englin was on duty in the Pentagon when it was attacked on September 11, 2001. David and his wife Shayna, an active volunteer with the Dean for America campaign, are Democratic precinct captains in Alexandria. They are both active members of the Arlington for Democracy DFA/DFV Meetup.
Libby Garvey - the current Chair of the Arlington County School Board (and Board member since 1996), Garvey served as a Democratic National Convention delegate for Edwards in 2004 and is a longtime party and community leader who has been endorsed by numerous Arlington County elected officials and members of school boards around the state.
Richard (Dick) Hobson (I could find no candidate Web site for Hobson) - a former member of the House of Delegates who served two terms in the late 1970's, Dick Hobson is a longtime party activist from Arlington.
Jim Lay - a self-described "bleeding-heart moderate" with "centrist, Democratic values", Lay is an Alexandria attorney and former prosecutor who has been endorsed by the Arlington Coalition of Police (AFL/CIO local 48), for whom he serves as General Counsel.
Laura Mandala - a small business owner in Alexandria and Chair of the Alexandria Commission on Women, Mandala says, ""I will use my business skills to work in creating greater benefits for Northern Virginia. We need to build coalitions, communicate the values of the Democratic Party, and bring more State legislators to our side." Mandala recently attended the Arlington for Democracy DFA/DFV Meetup.
Elsie Mosqueda - legislative aide to Delegate Brian Moran (D-46) for nine years, Mosqueda has been endorsed by a number of current and former members of the House of Delegates
As Republicans in Virginia well know, it's in the "safe seats" where party policy can move forward with conviction. Members in safe seats can serve as a policy and leadership beacon for colleagues in the party throughout the state. A Democrat in the 45th should be eager to stand up to the extreme right-wing radicals in Richmond (those we don't defeat in November, that is), to support building a stronger party infrastructure statewide, and to help to build the "farm team" of new Democratic leaders throughout the state.
A review of the candidates' Web site reveals much about their relative interests in progressive policies and party building, but nothing beats meeting the candidates in person.
Tonight, the Virginia Partisans host a candidate forum for all Democratic candidates in the 45th House District. This is a great opportunity to meet all of the candidates in person and decide for yourself who would be the best choice for the 45th and for the whole state. If you attend the tonight's forum, please share your impressions in comments below! I'd be happy to feature first-hand accounts as a guest post as well.