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Foltz challenges Hugo for state House seat

The Rev. Jerry Foltz is setting out to do something this fall something that no Democrat running for the state House of Delegates has done in recent memory: unseat a Republican incumbent who represents parts of Prince William County.

A retired pastor who serves as a chaplain at fire station No. 17 of the Centreville Volunteer Fire Department, Foltz is a down-the-line Democrat who is focusing his candidacy on transportation, education and immigration, as well as social issues and health care.

He is running against state Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th), who represents parts of western Fairfax County as well as precincts in northwestern Prince William County.

Recently, Hugo has become best known for leading the opposition to the proposed Bi-County Parkway, which would cut through properties in western Prince William to connect Interstate 66 to Route 50 in Loudoun County.

Foltz said he still needs "more study" on the issue before taking a firm position but argued both sides of the issue too in a way.

"What I'm missing is any alternatives Del. Hugo is proposing to reduce congestion on our road," he said, noting that Hugo voted against McDonnell's transportation bill that the governor signed into law this year.

State Del. Bob Marshall (R-13th) has proposed raising Route 28 over Braddock Road in order to help ease one bottle neck in Centreville.

However, Foltz also sympathized with western Prince William homeowners whose properties may be lost or cut under the road proposal.

"I would hate to think that their (lives) would be totally changed because of this," he said.

Like most state Democrats, Foltz opposes using more money from the General Fund to fund more transportation projects.

However, he supports the new transportation law championed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) that passed the General Assembly this year that did increase some of the General Fund's share for transportation funding and raised some taxes while cutting the fuel tax.

Foltz said the fee that he and other drivers of hybrid vehicles will have to pay under the law is "unfair," but it was something he was willing to do in order to have more money available under the compromise bill.

While he has donated to Democratic candidates seeking office throughout the last decade, he is relatively new to politics himself, as evidenced by his campaign platform.

When asked about what issues he differs from the viewpoints of the majority of his party at the state or national level, he said he couldn't think of anything that stood out.

"I really feel like I'm so in sync with the state Democratic Party and the national" party, he said, adding that he believes the party supports "a lot of tolerance" for divergent viewpoints.

On social issues, Foltz takes the opposite stances from Hugo in several areas.

He supports abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the "DREAM Act", which would allow illegal immigrants to pay for tuition at state colleges and universities at the same rate as legal residents.

"I think they should be allowed to attend our schools as residents," he said.

Likewise, he also supports allowing illegal immigrants who are attending school to have drivers licenses, though when asked what the cut-off would be, Foltz said he had not "thought about the timing of the license."

Unlike Hugo, Foltz also supported the nomination of the openly gay former prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland to the Richmond General District Court, saying he was "glad he got confirmed" after the House of Delegates first blocked him.

Foltz, who said he is allergic to tobacco smoke, also supports the commonwealth's partial ban on smoking indoors at private businesses, though he would be interested in increasing that restriction to entrances too.

When asked what pet project he would champion as a delegate, even if he was unsuccessful his first time out, he said that something important to him is increasing the number of bicycle lanes on roads as well as promoting bicycle safety.

"I would promote it any way I can," he said, adding that sharing bicycle lanes with cars "is very dangerous."
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