By Mason Votes Writer Ethan Vaughan
Susan Conrad, a master’s candidate at George Mason University studying for a degree in Instructional Technology, is running for the House of Delegates 40th District seat. She is campaigning on a transportation platform that would require raising gas taxes and automobile registration fees.
“It’s not going to be popular,” said Conrad, who recommended raising the gas tax by about five cents and the registration fee by five dollars. “But the longer we wait, the more it’ll cost. Fairfax roads only got one million dollars for road maintenance this year. People don’t want to pay to fix pot-holes, so they’ll wind up paying for a new car alignment. They don’t want to pay a gas tax, but they burn three dollars in gas a day sitting on Route 66.”
Conrad said that Northern Virginia needs expanded roads, and, ultimately, a much larger Metro system that goes “at least to Gainesville.”
“Those projects will take years to finish,” said Conrad. “In the meantime, there’s some other things we can do.”
Conrad proposed tax incentives for businesses to stagger their work hours, ensuring that “a portion of their workforce will not be on the road at certain times. That way, we can spread out use of the roads.”
Conrad said that a large part of the problem comes from Republican lawmakers in the House of Delegates who have taken from the wealthy communities in Northern Virginia without giving enough back.
“For every education dollar we sent to Richmond, we only get 25 cents back,” she said. “And the local economy has to make up the difference. Just over in Prince William County, they get 56 cents back. There all of these formulas they have down there, and none of the money is coming back to Fairfax.”
Conrad went on to say that a lack of funds affected the entire community, from university students coping with rising tuition to commuters facing long commutes, to businesses who find operating in the area difficult due to “overwhelming traffic.”
“We’re at a pivotal point,” stressed Conrad. “If we don’t allocate money to education, roads, and economic development, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Conrad made clear that she wasn’t advocating withholding funds from the rest of the Commonwealth.
“I definitely feel we have to help,” she stated. “I’m not saying we should get one dollar back for every dollar we give, because when we help other parts of the state we all benefit. However, there’s a disproportionate amount not coming back. Eighty percent of the state’s money is coming from here. If we don’t develop infrastructure here, the whole state is jeopardy.”