A Republican who is challenging Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) stated in a recent interview that she “over-promised and under-delivered” on a core campaign pledge to reduce congestion along Route 28.
Christopher Stone, the Republican nominee who Roem will face in her reelection bid this November, told the Washington Blade the bottom line is Route 28 still isn’t “fixed.”
“You campaigned for it in 2017, in 2019 and in 2021,” he argued. “And you can’t say you’ve done anything other than a study.”
Roem defended her infrastructure record, saying while a study had to be conducted, some improvements were already completed, such as reduced traffic signals at key busy intersections. She said these changes have reduced wait times and pollution from idling engines.
“That speeds up the commute without anyone having to lose their business, front property or homes. And we know from the study’s data that my plan will make your commute quicker, safer and greener,” Roem told the Blade. “Christopher Stone has no plan for fixing Route 28.”
Stone, however, challenged “improved light signaling” doesn’t necessarily “fix” or widen Route 28 to address commuter concerns. Roem pointed out the widening of Route 28 in Centreville is currently underway.
“I voted last year for authorization for the widening to go forward,” she said. “It is happening right before your very eyes in Centreville. You cannot tell me in good faith that we have not done anything to fix 28. It is being done right now.”
She added she is currently “chasing down the dollars” to bring further infrastructure to Manassas Park.
Expanded Medicaid, LGBTQ rights among Roem’s legislative victories
Roem in 2017 became the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the U.S.
Her four years in office have been busy ones. She has either sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that addressed discrimination, expanded Medicaid and helped make Virginia more inclusive.
LGBTQ Victory Fund Vice President of Political Programs Sean Meloy said Roem’s record clearly shows “she’s fulfilling her campaign promises and striving to create a more inclusive Virginia.” Meloy noted Roem has done considerable work — expanding healthcare and passing numerous LGBTQ-friendly bills — for her constituents since her 2017 election.
“While Del. Roem is hard at work, her opponent has decried mask mandates, supports extremist protesters in Loudoun County and called for an investigation of the 2020 election,” Meloy said. “Virginia voters are savvy, and they know when a candidate has their backs — which is why they’ve elected Del. Roem twice and will reelect her once again this November.”
Stone said he’s running for office because he felt laws the General Assembly has passed in the last few years benefitted “special interests” and not Virginians as a whole.
Stone and his wife moved to Prince William County from Fairfax County in 2013 because they were planning on having children and a friend said it was a good place to raise them. They now have two children who are 5 and 6-years-old, and the eldest is in his second year in the county’s school system.
“And she loves it,” Stone said proudly, especially now that she gets to return to in-person classes even though she has to wear a mask.
Stone, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former graduate school professor, said his wife encouraged him to run for office “and stop complaining.” He was concerned that LGBTQ laws in particular were too narrowly focused and not written with the interests of most Virginians in mind.
“A lot of people that I talk to are concerned that the way the laws are written you are protecting one group and infringing upon the constitutional freedoms of another,” he said, adding that allowing for exemptions for religious beliefs could be one way to make the laws more equitable.
“But you don’t just ignore those people,” he added. “You accommodate both sides. I don’t like laws aimed at a single group or giving protections to one side. That is how a lot of people see LGBTQ laws.”
Stone also discussed his opposition to marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, stating judges shouldn’t legislate from the bench.
He pointed out the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1857 decision in the Dred Scott case, which said slaves and their descendants were not American citizens, as an example of the harm judges “legislating from the bench” could do. The 13th and 14th Amendments overturned the ruling. But Roem, a life-long Virginian, pointed out Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia were two court cases with Virginia ties that made the state and the country a step more inclusive.
“If you have marriage equality, you can’t possibly tell an LGBTQ couple that they can’t adopt children,” Roem said. “What a horrible thing to tell any loving parent. We already litigated the hell out of this.”
For Roem, times have changed and so have the people of Virginia.
“If you are exclusionary like my challenger, then you are going to lose,” she said. “The people of the 13th district aren’t putting up with this any more.”