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Q&A: Meet the House of Delegates District 34 candidates

House District 34 Republican nominee Gary Pan and incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy (courtesy Pan for Virginia, 34th District office)

Editor’s Note — With all 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates on the ballot, Tysons Reporter is running Q&A-style profiles of the races in the Tysons area this week ahead of the general election next Tuesday (Nov. 2). The candidates’ responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Represented by incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy since 2015, the 34th House District encompasses most of McLean and the Wolf Trap area of Vienna, stretching west into Potomac Falls in Loudoun County.

Currently vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Murphy won her party’s June 8 primary and is now vying for reelection against Republican nominee Gary Pan, president and CEO of the information technology firm Panacea Consulting.

Who are you?

Murphy:

  • Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
  • Member of the House Finance Committee, General Laws Committees, and vice chair of the Transportation Committee.
  • Founder of the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus and former co-chair of the Safe Virginia Initiative
  • A member of the Military and Veterans Caucus and the Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus
  • Created the Rare Disease Caucus

Pan:

  • 34th District resident for over 20 years with wife and three sons
  • Started multiple successful businesses in IT consulting
  • Serves on boards for the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Great Falls Citizen Association, and Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
  • Received bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Lehigh University and MBA from Virginia Tech
  • Named a Lord Fairfax honoree in 2017
  • Currently serves as a Scoutmaster and president of the Rotary Club of Great Falls

What would you cite as your top accomplishments of the past term?

Murphy: This past session in Richmond, the Democratic majority delivered on the issues and values that matter most to our constituents. We passed legislation to support Virginia’s families and businesses through the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we expanded access to affordable healthcare, and we raised teacher pay.

I have strong support from our community for my efforts to make gun violence prevention a priority. Having lost my brother to gun violence, this issue is personal to me. In the last two sessions, we have delivered stronger background checks, a bill to allow school boards to ban guns on school property, a ban on plastic or 3D-printed “ghost guns,” and a ban on guns in the Capitol and other state buildings. Most notably, we passed my bill, H.B. 1995, a landmark bill to keep guns out of the hands of violent domestic abusers.

Additionally, I passed a bill to create the Rare Disease Council. Having recently lost a child to a rare disease, I am acutely aware of the challenges these families face.

Why are you running for office?

Pan: I love this community and I don’t think it’s getting the representation it deserves. Even with the vast array of issues facing the constituents of the 34th, our current delegate repeatedly chooses her party over the best interest of the district. I couldn’t stand by and watch. The pendulum has swung way too far to the left thanks to one party rule in Richmond.

Our children are suffering thanks to my opponent and her colleagues keeping them out of school against the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. On top of this, progressives want to take away advanced math and advanced diplomas in an effort to bring about equalit­y, effectively making everyone equally mediocre. Our children deserve better.

Further, our cost of living is out of control and my opponent and her party want to continue passing legislation to further raise that cost. From the gas pump to our energy bills, Kathleen Murphy is pricing us out of our own community. We need change in Richmond. We need a candidate who truly cares about this district more than a political agenda. I’m running to put people before politics.

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

Murphy: This next session, our focus will be on building back our economy, making sure our children are supported as they recover from lost time in the classroom, expand affordable health care, and strengthen and protect voting rights.

Pan: My priority will always be the 34th District. I will listen to my constituents and do what is best for our community each and every step of the way. My first step will be doing everything in my power to make up for the year of lost learning that our kids experienced. I will look to reduce class sizes, fight for funding for building more schools like [Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology], protect advanced education, and focus on early childhood education as a way to bring all students up.

I will work closely with our law enforcement to make sure they have the resources necessary to keep us safe, as well as work with health professionals to keep our community healthy as we get through COVID. I will look to cut waste in the budget in order to cut taxes and lower the cost of living in our region.

I will work across the aisle to incentivize economic growth in our region and bring businesses in rather than push them away with far-left measures such as the repeal of Right to Work. I will also fight for our fair share of transportation funding to fix our roads and cut down on congestion in the 34th District.

Is there anything else you would like to say to voters?

Murphy: Go vote! This year in Virginia, there is too much at stake for you to sit out this election. Democrats in the General Assembly have delivered on the issues and values that matter to you most. Send us back to build on that progress and fight for Virginia’s families every day. Early voting is going on now — head to IWillVote.com to find the polling location closest to you.

Pan: No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I hope to earn your vote. I’m not in this for myself or a political party. I’m running because I care about this district and want to serve it. This is my home and I want to make sure it stays beautiful and prosperous. I will be a delegate for all of my constituents, not just those who vote for me. I hope to earn your vote and I look forward to working for you.

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