Delegate John Bell is a retired member of the United States Air Force. He served almost 26 years before retiring as a Major in 2007. During his Air Force career, John served as a Finance Officer all over the world, including tours in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He points to his ability to build consensus among diverse participants produced savings and cost reductions throughout the world, including $200 million saved annually from his work in Iceland as qualities that help him be an effective Virginia State Delegate.
Why are you running to be a delegate for the General Assembly?
I ran for office the first time because I had a Delegate who voted against transportation time and time again, while I and his other constituents sat in hours of traffic every day. It frustrated me to see my community not being represented accurately in the Virginia House of Delegates. He also voted for anti-choice and anti-equality legislation that I strongly opposed.
Now, I’m running for reelection because it’s incredibly important to me to continue the fight for education priorities such as full-day kindergarten, transportation solutions such as reducing tolls, and smart investments of taxpayer dollars like switching to LED light bulbs.
My first term as a Delegate has shown me what effects I can have for Virginia. My victory brought the total number of democrats in the House to 34 – the number required to sustain vetoes sent down by the governor. Without me, House Democrats would be irrelevant. I’ve proudly stood with my colleagues to shut down bills that would defund clinics like Planned Parenthood and legalize discrimination against the LGBT community. I’ve also worked extensively with the Muslim, Indian, Jewish and other communities that have been targeted by hate crimes and spoken at a recent Faith over Fear and Anti-Hate Crime events.
What qualities, characteristics, talents, or experience do you bring that would make you an effective delegate for your district?
As a retired Air Force finance officer, and currently as a private sector budget and finance professional, it’s ingrained into my DNA to be smart when spending money. My mother, a teacher, raised us on her own. I knew what it was like from a young age to stretch a dollar and to make the most of what we had.
My one term in the Virginia House of Delegates proves my track record not only my progressive values, but also on my upbringing and career. I always take the time to listen to my constituents and make the decisions that best represent those who sent me to Richmond. What may be good for other parts of Virginia aren’t necessarily what’s best in Loudoun and Prince William Counties, and I make sure to represent the 87th to the best of my ability.
What are the 2 to 3 issues on which you feel most passionate that you would want your district constituents to base their votes?
SAFETY: On the top of my list of priorities is the safety of my constituents. I have always been a firearm safety advocate; carrying a weapon in a combat zone gives me perspective on what these deadly weapons can do, especially in the hands of someone with malicious intent. In addition, I’ve spearheaded efforts in the House to combat the opioid and addiction crisis in Virginia. My son struggles with addiction, so the initiatives passed last year had special meaning to me. I will continue working on this crisis until we can stop it in its tracks and get those affected the help they need. I want to do everything I can to remove the stigma from addiction and focus on the disease and what we can do to prevent addiction while helping those who suffer.
FULL DAY KINDERGARTEN: In Loudoun County, not every student has access to public full-day Kindergarten. As the son of an educator, as well as a father and grandfather, I think it’s incredibly important to give every child the start they need to succeed in school and in life. Study after study shows that early childhood education is the investment we need; spending money on early education helps children get on the right path and ultimately saves money by reducing the amount of students who will need remedial help or have behavioral problems.
EQUALITY FOR ALL: I’ve learned through my lifetime that every person has value, no matter what they look like, what they believe in, or who they love. In 2009, I was the only Virginia candidate to publicly stand for marriage equality for LGBT couples. My almost 26 years of military service was so everyone in America can be treated fairly and equally.
What positions separate you from YOUR OPPONENT?
My Republican opponent was the man who nominated Donald Trump for President on the GOP Convention floor. The biggest difference between my opponent and me would be his support of the President’s hateful, divisive, neo-conservative agenda. I am strongly against Trump’s Muslim Ban, immigration “plan,” and his budget proposal that would slash 10,000 jobs in Northern Virginia and eliminate funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup to name a few.
What would be your first bill?
Both sessions I’ve served in the General Assembly, I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment to create a computer-based redistricting system alongside a nonpartisan redistricting panel. Nonpartisan redistricting is robbing our democracy of true representation of the people, and it’s time that voters pick their politicians instead of the other way around.
What bill would you cosponsor that the main patron is a Republican?
There have been many bills that I have cosponsored with Republican patrons. However, one that is near and dear to my heart is full day Kindergarten. Del. Tag Greason and I align on this issue, and I would co-patron a bill that he may introduce on full day Kindergarten for Virginia students.
What was the event/news item/comment that made you decide to run for office?
When I ran for office the first time in 2009 against Bob Marshall, I was galvanized by the election of President Barack Obama. I ran to stand up for equality, celebrate diversity, and help make steps towards a strong, progressive, growing economy in Virginia.
When I decided to run in the 87th District the first time in 2013, my Delegate, David Ramadan, consistently voted against transportation solutions for Northern Virginia. I couldn’t stand for a Delegate who didn’t do what was best for his constituents, so I decided to run.
Fighting for Full-Day Kindergarten for Every Student: Wants to get more of the federal tax revenue Northern Virginia generates back into our school systems for full day kindergarten and much more.
Lowering Greenway Tolls by Ending Corporate Ownership: Wants to buy back the Dulles toll road from private owners by issuing bonds and taking advantage of our current low interest rates. Wants to do this at no cost to the taxpayers and allow the people to control their own fate going forward.
Promoting Economic Development: Wants to continue to attract new businesses in cybersecurity and green technology through public-private partnerships that would reduce the cost to government.
Finding Cost-Effective Transportation Solutions: Wants to remove choke points by promoting bus rapid transit and ride-sharing programs like Slugging.
Protecting Virginia’s Natural Beauty: Wants to reverse climate change by investing in alternative energy and ending tax breaks to coal companies and other polluters.
Increasing Access to Quality Healthcare: Increase access to quality healthcare for all, including reproductive healthcare for women.
Ensuring Equal Rights for all Virginians: Pro-Marriage Equality and LGBT rights.
Taking Steps to Prevent Gun Violence: Supports closing the gun-show loophole and instituting universal background checks.
House of Delegates – District 87
|Bell, John* (D)||$153,949|
|Kolla, Subba R (R)||$284,693|