A 10-year Fairfax County school board member, Kaye Kory accepted a new challenge when she won the Democratic primary for Virginia’s 38th District against incumbent Delegate Bob Hull in June.
By winning the nomination, Kory, a lifelong Northern Virginia civic advocate and community activist, now faces her Republican opponent, Danny Smith, in November’s general election. Smith was profiled in the News-Press last week
Both candidates have publicly pushed pro-education, pro-environment and pro-gay agendas, with emphasis on solving Northern Virginia’s transportation woes. Where they diverge, Kory told the News-Press this week, is on the strength of their credentials.
Kory said she has “a proven track record of tangible results” during her tenure as the Mason District representative on the Fairfax County School Board. As a board member, Kory has served multiple times as the board’s rotating legislative liaison to Richmond, as well as its legislative committee chair.
This experience has made her intimately aware of cooperating with state authorities on a local level, Kory said.
“It’s crucial that the people we elect locally represent us in Richmond on so many issues that affect Northern Virginia and are broad based across the state, such as the economy and transportation.”
Since her campaign began in January, Kory said she has knocked on thousands of doors, but the state delegate hopeful is no stranger to the 38th district’s constituents. “For the past 10 years on the school board, I’ve represented 17 of the 21 precincts in the district,” she said.
In a heavily Democratic district, Kory believes voters will identify with her political positions, many of which, she said, she shares with outgoing Delegate Hull.
“I hold very dear the core Democratic liberal values, which is where I do not diverge from Bob; equity, equal rights and opportunities,” she said. “That’s why I am a Democrat.”
However, Kory said she finds “it very sad when issues are defined as partisan,” adding that “there are a lot of issues I don’t see as partisan.”
If elected, Kory said she will bring all levels of government into the budget dialogue. She was also disappointed that the state legislature has not granted Fairfax County more taxing authority and control over its own roads.
On taxes, Kory said she has found “a broad recognition from 38th district voters that taxes have to be raised,” cautioning that any rise in taxes would have to be correlated to the service it supported.
“It’s not good policy to increase property tax to fund the roads, when we should be looking at taxes like one on fuel,” she said.
On education, Kory decried the legislature’s lack of support for students with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) needs.
She said the legislature’s reluctance “is a huge hindrance for Northern Virginia and many communities across the state, like Harrisonburg’s school district, which has a large ESL population.”
While her opponent, Smith is openly gay and has stated he would support pro-gay rights legislation, Kory said she “would sign on to a bill that began the process of overturning the Marshall-Newman amendment,” which, in 2006, had constitutionally banned gay marriage.
Kory also voiced support for preserving Governor Tim Kaine’s work toward ending LGBT discrimination in the workplace.
She added that as a school board member, she has a record of advocating on behalf of the LGBT community.
“About five or six years ago, Bob Frye and I were pushing to include LGBT-accepting language in Fairfax Public Schools and the students’ Code of Conduct,” Kory said, noting that the attempt was blocked by Virginia’s then-Republican Attorney General Jim Kilgore.
Kory expressed concern over her opponent’s ability to support gay rights in the House of Delegates, due to the Republican caucus’s strict party rules.
“In Richmond the partisan caucuses operate very differently,” she explained. “In the GOP caucus, they’ve imposed a bloc vote for the past six years, so all members must vote in the same way.
“I think that would be a big problem for any GOP candidate not running as a social conservative.”
Kory, who has received nods from, among other state and national groups, the pro-gay rights Virginia Partisans, the Virginia Education Association and the League of Conservation Voters, said, “I firmly believe that local government is what affects our daily life in this country.”