Virginia primaries

Photo of Henry Light from his campaign site.

Tomorrow is the primary election in Virginia. Former Governor Mark Warner, as well as current governor Tim Kaine, are backing Norfolk attorney Henry Light’s challenge to Delegate Johnny Joannou of Portsmouth, who often sides with House Republicans on tax and spending issues. Light also has the endorsement of The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence for his pledge to require background checks on gun purchasers at gun shows. He’ pro-choice. If you would like to help with door to door canvassing, phoning, and working the polls on Election Day, call (757)-484-7816 or email Since there is no Republican opponent, the winner will represent the district. Light’s campaign ads on YouTube are here.

Light, who was the chief lawyer for the Norfolk and Southern before his reitirement from that post got a ringing endorsement from the Virginia Pilot June 8, “Choose light in portsmouth,” which says that Light is the underdog due to his residency across the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, which accounts for but three orphan precincts of the 79th.

Del. Johnny Joannou seldom misses a chance to rail against tax increases and government spending. But he doesn’t hesitate to take all he can for his pet projects in Portsmouth, while ignoring its schools and roads.

Joannou’s ease in bridging those contradictions has made him the city’s most durable politician, but not one who can be counted on to get the General Assembly’s help in Portsmouth’s comeback. In Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Portsmouth’s 79th District seat in the House of Delegates, we urge the election of someone who will – Henry Light.

…For all of Joannou’s insider’s knowledge, Light the outsider has a better grasp of the essential role that schools and roads will play in attracting the families and businesses that Portsmouth needs to build a future.

…If Joannou’s votes look out of step politically, they look even more questionable financially. Take Warner’s 2004 budget deal, which dramatically increased funding for public schools. Because Portsmouth is so poor, it always gets from Richmond more than it gives in taxes. So, Warner’s budget bill provided an extra big bonus for the city’s public schools, money that was used to halt the exodus of its teachers. Still, Joannou voted against it.

Joannou, who has exercised a veto over Midtown Tunnel improvements for the last 10 years, has no better grasp over transportation needs. In an interview with the editorial board last week, Joannou gave a curious defense of his vote this winter against the regional transportation authority.

He said that one of the biggest projects the Assembly has chartered the authority to build – the bridge tunnel under the Elizabeth River joining Norfolk International Terminals and Craney Island to I-664 – was a waste of money.

When asked why, Joannou said it no longer made sense because NIT was getting out of the container business that generates so much truck traffic and was preparing to handle break bulk cargo only.

That will be news to the Virginia Port Authority. It is spending $500 million upgrading NIT to unload the biggest container ships in the world.

It is inexcusable for any Hampton Roads lawmaker to be so ill-informed about a state-owned mega-business on which so much of our economic future rests. That Joannou seems to know so little about the biggest industry in the cities he serves is telling evidence of how seriously he takes his official duties.

Incumbent Benjamin Lambert of Richmond faces Del. Donald McEachin of Henrico County after endorsing Republican George Allen’s bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate. McEachin was an early supporter of Democrat Jim Webb, has returned the favor by campaigning for McEachin, who has served two stints in the House and was his party’s 2001 nominee for attorney general.

In Roanoke, the incumbant Senator Brandon Bell faces the former Mayor, Ralph Smith, in the Republican primary. Smith’s supporters think bell is not conservative enough. Smith only told folks after his election to Mayor was a fan he was of Ollie North. Smith is the Secretary of The Freedom Alliance, founded by North in 1990, which for instance advocastes writing to let President Bush know

that I congratulate him on the way he is leading our nation in the war on terrorism. His decision to reject U.S. participation in, and recognition of, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a brilliant one as indicated in Freedom AllianceĀ  website. However, I am deeply concerned over U.N.’s refusal to grant our troops immunity even from bogus charges resulting from U.N. peacekeeping operations. The U.N. and the nations that signed the Treaty of Rome creating the ICC, claim that United States is still subject to the ICC’s will, even though we did not sign the Treaty.

I want to urge readers to write to their President and Representatives asking them to go one step further. Representatives need to urge the President to consider withdrawing all American forces from any United Nations peacekeeping operations, until the United Nations agrees to United States requests that its troops will be granted immunity from ICC prosecution.



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