Kory Determined To Unseat 17-Yr. Vet on June 9
Del. Bob Hull, who has represented the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1992, says he is “genuinely surprised” that he’s being challenged in the upcoming June 9 primary by fellow Democrat Kaye Kory, an elected member of the Fairfax County School Board.
The 38th District includes the Mason District of the greater Falls Church area of Fairfax County, and a small part of its Providence District.
“It would be one thing if I were completely off the Democratic reservation, but I have a solid record of support over 17 years for my voting record on matters of choice, the environment, equality, labor, education, transportation and so forth,” Hull told the News-Press in an interview at the News-Press office yesterday.
Indeed, Kory, interviewed by the News-Press at a Bailey’s Crossroads restaurant Tuesday, did not include any of those issues in delineating her disagreements with Hull that led to her decision to run against him about a year ago.
But Hull concedes that he’s facing a formidable challenge from Kory, because she’s an elected official representing the Mason District on the county school board.
With less than two weeks before the election, a flurry of Kory campaign signs have begun showing up along the Route 7 corridor stretching through the Mason District from Seven Corners to Skyline.
According to Fairfax’s Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross, who is uncommitted in the race, Kory is running a “very serious” challenge to Hull. Kory said her support is at the grass roots, coming from her door-to-door campaigning and the efforts of “lots of volunteers,” though when asked she could provide only one official endorsement, from the Fairfax Association of Professional Firefighters Local 2068.
Hull, on the other hand, boasts a long list of endorsements and supporters. They include the political action committee of NARAL Pro-Choice, the Legislative Black Caucus in Richmond, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club. He’s also been designated a “Legislative Leader” or “Legislative Hero” by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters each of the last six years, has ratings from NARAL of 100 percent the last six years, from 86 to 100 percent from Equality Virginia, from 95 to 100 percent from the Virginia AFL-CIO and 75 to 100 percent from the Virginia Education Association.
Kory, who was first elected to the school board in 1999, told the News-Press she began being encouraged by friends and elected officials to run two years ago, although she declined to name the public officials.
Asked why she is running, Kory said, “Constituents of the 38th District deserve active, problem-solving, practical, results-oriented and responsive” representation in Richmond and they don’t have it now.”
She also stressed the need for “a close relationship between the legislature and locally-elected officials,” though she provided no specific instances to illustrate where Hull has, in her view, fallen short. She said that education, the environment and transportation were her key issues, but she did not say how she differed with Hull on those subjects.
Hull, on the other hand, stressed the importance of having his 17 years of accumulated seniority in Richmond. If re-elected, he said, he’d be 18th among 100 delegates in seniority in the House, and seventh among Democrats. As the ranking Democrat on the County, Cities and Towns Committee, he would become the chairman if the Democrats win control of the House this November. He is also the ranking Democrat on the Housing Subcommittee of the General Law Committee.
“Seniority means clout, the ability to get things done and the legislative experience to get legislation through,” he said. “I am able to get bills passed unanimously, or near unanimously.”
In particular, he rattled off his legislative efforts in the areas of gun control and transportation dating back to his earliest days in Richmond.
Kory said she was “disturbed” by Hull’s role in the passage of a bill in this year’s legislative session that allowed for so-called “alternative septic fields,” noting that it was not an issue for the 38th District and that it called for their installation by the State Board of Health and not local officials. She said that the method is “eight times more likely to fail” than standard septic tanks.
However, Hull disputed her claims, noting that his bill, HB 1788, passed the Senate 39-1 and the House 90-8 and was signed by Gov. Tim Kaine. “I don’t think it would have had that kind of support if it was not environmentally viable,” he said.
He said he was told there had been only one failure in 15 years of use, and that the technology is encouraged in Maryland and Delaware and widely used in Israel, where he visited last fall. “It is better for the environment,” he said, involving “aerobic bacteria” that works faster in rocky soils where traditional percolation methods are not effective.
He did note that in Loudoun County, local officials had called for a moratorium on the use of the method, and that the new law will override that while requiring professional installation according to regulations that will be developed by the State Board of Health.
Because it will work on rocky soils, it will help preserve farmland from commercial development, Hull argued, because developers will be able to build effectively on the rocky soils.
It was also pointed out that Hull introduced the bill this January, a year after Kory had made the decision to run.
On another issue Kory cited as “emblematic” and “a very good example” of the differences between her and Hull, she said that Hull was the patron of a bill to place a cap on proffers that jurisdictions could exact from developers in exchange for zoning and other approvals. She said that Hull had also spoken up years ago against her efforts to encourage the County Board of Supervisors to include support for the schools in consideration of requests for voluntary proffers from developers.
Hull again disputed Kaye’s claim, calling it a “total misrepresentation.” He said he recalled nothing about speaking out against her initiative, but said, “If I did, then why did she circulate petitions for my re-election four years ago?”
The 2007 bill about proffers, HB 3202, he said, was “complicated,” involving some land use attachments to the transportation bill that would have expanded proffer policy to rural counties. He said he came down in favor of preferring the existing system until the matter could be more thoroughly studied. “It was not a call for a cap on proffers,” he insisted.
Finally, Kory said she opposed the existing Dillon Rule in Virginia, whereas Hull favors it. The Dillon Rule establishes that no local jurisdiction can pass a law that is not specifically permitted by the state.
Hull has stated in response to a questionnaire, “As a judicial philosophy, there is nothing inherently wrong with the Dillon Rule. It prevents a hodge podge of local ordinances which would be hard for individuals and business owners to follow if they move from one Virginia locality to another.” He added there is some flexibility under the rule, and that he’s fought for more.
“To provide for more local authority, I have been the sponsor or co-sponsor over the years of bills to allow local governments to include sexual orientation in local human rights ordinances, to allow public employees to “meet and confer” with local governments, to allow local governments to use local funds for workforce housing, and to restrict guns and other dangerous weapons in public facilities.”
Saying he was “surprised” by the challenge from Kory, Hull said he contributed to her school board campaign in 1999, and in 2005 Kory offered to petition for him. “In 10 years (of her being on the school board) she hasn’t called me once about an issue,” he said.
This election marks the first time Hull has faced a primary challenge. There were no opportunities for a head-to-head debate between the two candidates before the campaign.
The winner of the June 9 Democratic primary will face Republican Danny Smith, making a second bid for the 38th District job, in November.