Patch recently sent questions to each of the candidates running in the Democratic primary for the 8th congressional District. The primary election is June 10. There are currently seven candidates in the Democratic primary race. This is the sixth of the Q&As, with candidate Derek Hyra.
1. Patch: What one thing would you hope to accomplish, more than anything, if elected?
Derek Hyra: Stabilizing the housing market is my main Congressional priority. Nearly 20 percent of our nation’s economy is wrapped up in the housing market. In NoVa we have survived the Great Recession but many areas of the country are still suffering from foreclosures and depressed home values. In fact, several economists argue that our national recovery from the Great Recession has been held back due to unfinished Congressional housing reforms. In particular, we must decide the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, our key housing finance companies. As your next Congressional representative, I will help foster sensible, bi-partisan bills to reform and strengthen Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Without sensible action related to these firms, it is unlikely that we will witness balanced and widespread housing market stabilization and robust economic growth.
2. Patch: What makes your platform unique from the other candidates?
Derek Hyra: I have a comprehensive “4E” platform (economy, education, environment and equity) and am the only candidate advocating for equitable economic growth. By equitable, I mean growth that lifts all boats and reduces social inequality. This can be achieved through strategic housing, community development, and small business reforms. To achieve equitable growth in NoVa and across the country, we need to reform existing government programs including the Treasury Department’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, the Small Business Administration’s 7a and 504 lending programs as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher program. By refining these existing programs, and others, we could improve the lives of millions of Americans. I have spent nearly two decades, including time as a federal government employee at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Treasury Department, and look forward to advocating for this agenda as your next Congressman.
3. Patch: What is the biggest struggle you've ever overcome?
Derek Hyra: When my wife, Allison, was pregnant with my son, she developed preeclampsia. I still remember the day I received the phone call from Allison and she anxiously explained that her doctor, on a routine prenatal visit, advised her to immediately head to the hospital. Within three days of her hospitalization, Allison was ordered to have an emergency C-section because her health and Avery’s was failing. Avery was born two months early. On the day of his birth, the doctors informed me that there was a high probability that Avery, my three-pound angel, might suffer a severe stroke. Additionally, my wife’s blood pressure was extremely high after the birth and she was in critical condition. This was the most difficult day of my life. I thought I might lose my entire world in one day. I sat with my mother-in-law, Denise, and we prayed. We all survived that day and I am happy to report that Allison and Avery are both healthy and vibrant thanks to divine intervention and the wonderful care they received at INOVA Alexandria hospital. Allison and Avery’s remarkable recoveries and the subsequent healthy birth of my daughter, Barrett, proved to me that miracles happen.
4. Patch: What has been your biggest achievement?
Derek Hyra: The mark of great leaders is not their accomplishments but the achievements of those they have touched and supported. I am so proud of my family, friends and particularly my students. Many of my former Virginia Tech students are helping to shape the DC metropolitan landscape and I feel very confident in its economic and political future.
In my career I have been involved with extraordinary efforts to revitalize some of the most impoverished areas in the country. I have worked with great people in historic African American communities including Bronzeville in Chicago, Harlem in New York, Shaw/U Street in Washington, DC, and in the Parker Gray neighborhood in Alexandria. In these communities my role has centered on understanding how to bringing sustainable economic development while minimizing and/or preventing displacement. My scholarship and actions, as a professor, federal government employee, housing authority board chair, and planning commissioner, have influenced students, community leaders, policy makers, and national policies, in particular the Dodd-Frank Act, and shaped numerous real estate development projects in Alexandria. I am extremely proud of these efforts and believe my unique academic, federal and local government, and community experiences can be brought to bear to craft effective policies that can improve our country.
5. Patch: Who is your hero (political or otherwise)?
Derek Hyra: My greatest heros are my mom and dad. They provided me with so many opportunities and taught me the values of hard work, public service, and caring for others. In public life and politics, my US heros are Ida B. Wells, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Professor Manning Marable. In their own ways, these exceptional Americans fought tirelessly for civil rights, peace, and social justice.
6. Patch: What, to you, is one of the most unique qualities about the community of the 8th congressional district?
Derek Hyra: Virginia’s 8th Congressional District is one of the most affluent, educated and racial diverse areas in the country. While I want this district to continue to cultivate innovations that drive our economy, I also hope it continues to provide housing and educational opportunities for upper-, middle- and low-income families. As a unique, suburban melting pot, this area truly represents the best of the American Democracy and its democratic principles.
7. Patch: How would you describe yourself in just three words?
Derek Hyra: Passionate, Pragmatic and Determined
8. Patch: What is your definition of success?
Derek Hyra: Knowing that my life’s work, done in collaboration with others, helped to make the country a more prosperous, just and equitable society.