Independent Candidate Howell Hopes to Unseat Moran

Political newcomer making bid in Virginia's 8th Congressional District.

Jason Howell has no previous government experience, but that hasn’t stopped him from aiming high in his political aspirations. Howell, who is running as an independent for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, the seat currently held by Democrat Jim Moran, said Congress is where the problem lies.

“When there’s a fire in the kitchen, you don’t go to the bedroom to put it out,” Howell said. “That’s where the biggest challenge is. There are zero independents right now in the House of Representatives, and that’s part and parcel [to] that sort of gridlock that we have. ... In the mix, the issues that are really important, the ones that matter, kind of get lost, and the people that you’re supposed to be representing aren’t represented as much because you’re representing a team rather than a constituency.”

The 8th district currently includes parts of Reston, Vienna, Falls Church, Arlington, Alexandria City and a large portion of Alexandria south of the Beltway. With redistricting for the 2012 elections, the district loses parts of Reston and Vienna, but adds half of McLean, spreads west into West Springfield and south into Lorton. (See a map of the new and old 8th district for more information.)

Howell, 37, lives with his wife in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington. His parents were immigrants who moved to California in the late 1960s. He later lived in the Caribbean with his family before moving to Northern Virginia as a teenager. He earned his associate’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College and later transferred to George Mason University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Howell began his career as an accountant, then started his own accounting business for musicians. He worked for one year as controller for what is now Jiffy Lube Live and later became a recruiter for three years for a company called Axis, currently a division of Randstad.

Those experiences, along with the recession, prompted him to write a self-published book, “America: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.” He subsequently became a motivational speaker, which he did through last summer, when he began writing a book on patriotic development.

“I was writing that book, and I had C-SPAN on, and I was watching them kind of create this debt crisis, and that’s when it struck me that we, people in our generation, need to do something rather than just watch,” he said. “And here I was, writing about a concept that I believed in, and I needed to maybe be about it, because the country was calling. And that’s when I decided to run for office.”

Howell said the reason the U.S. credit rating was downgraded in 2011 was because politics broke down, politics generated by polarizing district politics that produces politicians on the far right or far left. 

“(My) running as an independent is an opportunity for the 8th District to break that grip, to say, ‘You know what, we the people are still running things, and no matter how you gerrymander this district, or any district across the country, we can send a message to Congress by sending an independent to Congress,’ and really sort of make history by replacing an incumbent with an independent,” he said.

He proposes to manage traffic and federal transportation funding from a different angle. Many workers in the 8th District are knowledge-based workers, Howell said, who really don’t need to go to an office every day to work. He promotes a concept called “hoteling,” in which employees telecommute and visit the office as needed by reserving a space. 

Companies including Booz Allen Hamilton already use a similar strategy, he said. “It’s the difference between a 20th-century look at how to fix things and a 21st-century look.”

On education, Howell also sees room for innovation without increasing costs by introducing student achievement measurements that track each student’s progress rather than subject mastery level at the end of the year. He would enhance No Child Left Behind by including these progress-based measures into the system, he said.

On gay marriage, Howell is for “enhanced civil unions,” which would afford gay couples all legal rights associated with marriage in all states, but stops short of supporting gay marriage nationwide. He is also pro-choice.

Howell said he has raised funds to date in the campaign -- none have yet been reported -- but he admits his funds are a far cry from the $462,964 raised by Moran, as reported by OpenSecrets.org.

Howell also said being younger than some opponents was an advantage in the race. “A lot of the our other legislators who are in office now, they’re from an entirely different generation,” he said. 

“This is a new kind of world. It is a global society, whether we acknowledge it or not, and America needs to compete in a way that it hasn’t had to compete for the past 30, 40 years. So it really is incumbent upon Generation X, in a way, to say, this is our time, and, in all honesty, it is our turn.”

Felix Jarusewic, who worked together with Howell in the Reston-Herndon Toastmasters Club, where Howell served as president, called him a man with much charm.

“The minute you’re talking to him, you get the impression you like the guy, and there’s an element of trust there, and he’s not going to ask you to do something he wouldn’t do himself,” Jarusewic said.

He also said Howell’s political philosophy appeals to him. “What I notice is he’s got a real good chance here to make a difference with his thoughts,” he said. … “He can be a really refreshing voice. It’s just a matter of him getting heard.”

Ana Tolentino, who met Howell when he was president of the local chapter of ALPFA, a national organization for Hispanics in business and finance, and she was treasurer. Howell took her under his wing and helped her with accounting matters, Tolentino said.

“He’s just a genuinely a good person,” she said. “I think he has great intentions, and I think he’s going to be very successful in his future, and he really cares about people and about what’s right for everybody.”

Read more about Howell on his website.

Greendayer April 05, 2012 at 11:23 AM
A change is certainly needed in the District. Howell would be a long shot, but it's interesting to listen to some new voices in the arena of ideas.
Jugufly April 05, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I'm really excited to see an Independent running. Jason Howell is a breath of fresh air in the public arena. He's right, we need more Independents in Congress. Our current 'public servants' get to cozy in their seat and in the end, only serve that 'team' (political party and crony corporations) that Howell was talking about. Needless to say, Jason Howell has my vote and I wish him the best of luck on his mission.
Amber Foster April 05, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I have known Jason personally for several years and he is an excellent candidate for this seat! If I lived in the 8th district he'd have my vote without question.
Howard Carlin April 05, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I would never discourage young people from participating in the electoral process, but starting at the congressional level is a bit of a leap, isn't it? If Mr. Powell was truly interested in helping his community, there are numerous opportunities to serve (school board, supervisor, delegate, etc) which would give him some experience and more validation.
Eneida Alcalde April 05, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Jason is an intelligent and compassionate leader. If you have questions, I recommend that you reach out to him. http://votejasonhowell.com/contact-jason/
Jugufly April 05, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Howard, Your past comments, including this one, leads me to believe you are somehow affiliated with Jim Moran's campaign. If I'm wrong about that, then I guess it's just one wrong statement versus your previous incorrect statements from another article. In past comments, you misunderstood what Mr. Howell said about the budget crisis from last Summer. And here, you sound somewhat condescending towards someone you know nothing about. Mr. Howell didn't cherry pick what office he wanted to run for. He knows that in order to positively affect the direction of our broken Congress, with career politicians like Jim Moran, it would be an ideal opportunity to really do some good. I seriously disagree with your past statements along with this one. And I advise you to do your homework on who you're suggesting should run for school board. Jim Moran is the poster child for corrupt politicians. I am sick and tired of people like him claiming to be representing everyone in their district. His corruption and lack of respect for his constituents is summed with the sale of 90 companies' stocks the day before the financial crisis hit back in October of 2010. That sums up what kind of Congressman Jim Moran is, and it shows who he's really looking out for. Voting for the same tired and corrupt politician is a bit puzzling, isn't it?
Lyndsey DePalma April 05, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I think Jason will be a much needed breath of fresh air for our district. He seems to have the passion and aptitude to make the difference.
Uncle Smartypants April 05, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Why is this being cross-posted to the Reston Patch? We are no longer in the 8th.
Chris S April 05, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I know not of this "Mr. Powell" you speak of. However, I do know Jason Howell, and think he is exactly what our country needs. :) You bring up some valid points though. To your point, Jason currently serves or has served in a number of different roles. He is active in the Latino Accounting Association and serves on the alumni board for the George Mason University School of Management...just to name of few. He has more than enough experience to run for Congress and also has a reputation for being a good listener, which is lacking in a lot of politicians today. My suggestion would be to reach out directly to Jason and/or learn more about him. You might be pleasantly surprised...
Jugufly April 05, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I don't think he will reach out to Jason Howell directly because Howard Carlin just gave his acceptance speech after receiving the Grassroots Volunteer Award from the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) and their annual luncheon this past February, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAaWJqDh3-4. Howard, if this is how you win Democratic grassroots awards (trolling the Internet for candidates who are running against Moran and other Democratic politicians and attacking them), then go for it. Have fun. Just remember, Jim Moran is corrupt, and it's time for him to finally move on.
Paul April 05, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Good luck Jason, you have my vote! I wish you the best running as an independent against the big money machines that control both parties. Moran has to go and it is great that we have an alternative to the neocon Patrick Murray.
Edgar Warfield April 05, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I'm sure Mr. Howell is a nice guy, and he seems talented and able, from the article. But this 'ol Democrat has to ask -- as he did with Will Radle -- what ever happened to starting out by running for a local office, or school board, or some such thing, before running for Congress so that voters can get to know how you think and what you value? Being on an alumni board is great -- but only other alumni and board members get to know you. I'm just not sure that that's enough experience to support the leap to Congress.
The BSD Guy April 05, 2012 at 06:37 PM
The biggest problem with politics today is special interests. The Republicans are now nationally and, I suppose, locally tied to, controlled, and manipulated by special interests. Look at what a laughing stock the party has become. The Republicans represent a very small, tiny group of very wealthy people that have an embedded "Leona Helmsley" attitude - they are elite, they are entitled, the rest are inferior, and the duty of the masses it to cater to and sacrifice for the elite. Obviously, if the Republicans present this to the American people, they would have been kicked out of office. The solution is simple - target the "gullibles" - those easily tricked and deceived with conspiracy theories and misinformation into believing that catering to these elites is actually good for them. If you wonder WHY the Republican party now seems so detached and bizarre, you are witnessing the "gullibles" rise up from the ranks, something the elites didn't think would happen, and present themselves to the nation. Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Sean Hannity .... need I say more? Unfortunately, the Democrats are not far behind. A recent meeting of the Virginia Democratic Party ended with a proclamation that "Land Development would save them." Gee ... I wonder who came up with that crack-pipe economic theme. If democracy is to be save, maybe it's time to throw out the two predominant and now dysfunctional political parties.
Liz Davis April 05, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Amen to that,Jugafly!
NoBS April 05, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Mr. Howell quotes Ayn Rand on his website. He has no mention of such hot button social issues as same sex marriage or abortion on his website, but he does state that he wants people to be able to "opt out" of social security and he decries its expansion in the 1960s. He has a section called "Love Matters," and under that he discusses national security. He is a member of The Church at Clarendon in Arlington but does not reveal his personal views on the role of religion in daily life, although he does state that he believes our rights come from our creator alone. What we have here folks is a tea bagger disguised as an independent. His website is amateurish and preachy. He's not getting my vote.
Jugufly April 05, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Ms. Gordon, You're certainly entitled to your opinion. I would stay away from the labels though. I just checked out his website as well and if he was part of the tea party, he would mention it. He's an INDEPENDENT. Not a Republican. Not a Democrat. He has no party or group affiliation. When was the last time you saw a politician say "Love Matters"? Honestly, I think it's a nice change of pace. How do you expect someone to serve hundreds of thousands of people without have a little love involved in that service? I actually wish more politicians mention love in their daily banter. What's in this for me? I actually get to see an Independent beat out an incumbent and a Republican who both have the divisive politics and money to back them. I hope every Independent running for public office in this country embarrasses both political parties this November. You seem a lot like our friend, Howard Carlin whom, as we recently found out, is a Democratic grassroots activist who supports Jim Moran. I wonder if you guys are in the same camp, http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=name&lname=Gordon&fname=Gail Well looky here, it seems that you are! The Alexandria Democratic Committee is lucky to have you. All joking aside, there have been two folks so far on these comments today that seem to attack an Independent because he's running against Jim Moran. That's how worried they are about losing their seat. Sad.
T Ailshire April 05, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I didn't find the web site preachy, but very amateur and lacking in substance. Maybe love matters (as do other things), but I'm not going to base my vote on it. I'd certainly vote for him over Moran, but then I'll vote for (almost) anyone over Moran. And there's always the write-in option of "None of the Above", which I've used on more than one occasion.
NoBS April 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I find it telling that Howell's supporters don't use their real names here and instead use aliases. What - or who - are they trying to hide? Why hasn't Howell stated his views on abortion, same sex marriage and other issues on his website? I certainly won't vote for someone because some anonymous troll on the internet said I should. I'm not sure whty or how Howell put love and national security together. I'm not worried about Jim Moran losing his seat. The 8th District is solidly Democratic, and as an independent, Howell will have no party financial or other support. Will Radle considered a primary challenge to Moran but dropped out before the race even really started. The other Democratic challenger, Bruce Shuttlesworth, didn't get enough signatures to even get on the ballot. I thought the Republicans were going to put up Patrick Murray to run against Jim. If they do, Howell will have an even tougher time raising money and getting volunteers. I support the idea of new candidates jumping into politics, but Howell hasn't demonstrated any solid knowledge of government or government service yet. His website certainly doesn't lend confidence. Has he obtained the necessary signatures to get on the ballot? Has he filed his statement of organization?
NoBS April 05, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Oh dear. I got his seminar and books website instead of his campaign website. Take a look: http://jasonhowell.com/home/
Jugufly April 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM
I'm an Independent and I support all Independents. And I think you actually are worried about Jim Moran losing or else you wouldn't have conveniently commented on this article in the first place. I don't have to use my real name. You chose to use yours and didn't think that I'd find it online with your Democratic donations after you criticize someone running against your candidate. I find it telling that you have to attack someone without actually knowing what they stand for. I didn't call you names so don't call me names. But if you want to stick with the name "troll", the only trolls here are you and Mr. Carlin who seem threatened by anyone who will be challenging Jim Moran. Do you find it hard to defend a Democrat who is as corrupt as they come? Don't you think that people are sick and tired of Republicans and Democrats ripping each other apart without developing any solutions? Have you thought about how silly you sound like when you criticize someone's website rather than have a debate about the substance? Do you know how ridiculous you sound when you blindly support a political party just because they have a "D" next to their name? And finally, do you know that I can ask these same set of questions to any political operative from either party because you all sound the same?
Jugufly April 05, 2012 at 09:03 PM
And one more thing, if you weren't blinded by your partisanship, you would have actually read my words and understood that I'm not asking you to vote for anyone. I've stated my opinion and that's political parties suck, and 2012 is the year of Independents.
NoBS April 05, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I'm well aware that my name is publicly listed as a donor to Democatic campaigns, which I'm proud of. I follow and comment on politics because it's of interest to me. I volunteer a lot too. I'm not against independents running. I just don't think it's effective here in the 8th. I consider these things "vanity campaigns" and I suspect that is what we have here. Howell is a salesman and his product is himself. Check out his non-campaign website. Running for office is a great way to get free publicity and I'm not saying that's a bad thing. The 8th Congressional District is solidly blue. If you go over the election results for city, state and federal candidates in the 8th over the past couple of decades, you'll come to understand that Howell is not likely to win. I'm not saying he shouldn't run. More power to anyone who dares to run, but I like to see campaigns that have a real shot of winning. I feel bad for people who donate money and time to fruitless vanity exercises. Just run the precinct numbers for the 8th CD election in 2010 and look at the numbers for new post-redistricting 8th CD you will come to same conclusion. Howell has almost no chance of winning. If you want to give him your money and time, that's your right and I support your commitment to civic engagement.
NoBS April 05, 2012 at 09:25 PM
i went to his campaign site and found it lacking in substance. I googled him to find more info and learned of his site where he sells himself as a public speaker. The point is that Howell is a salesman. His product is himself and his views. His campaign is free publicity for his product. My point is that this looks like self-promotion. Howell can try to convince me otherwise. I'd be most interested in learning his positions on abortion rights, same sex marriage and forgiveness of student loan debt. Will he address those issues on his website soon?
Edgar Warfield April 05, 2012 at 09:41 PM
This 'ol Democrat thinks his website is rather curious: the tag line is "Motivation through Patriotic Development," which sounds like it's a spoof of those ads Lockheed Martin runs. Mr. Howell's bio begins by noting his "life story began in California, just minutes before President Richard Nixon resigned." Is there some real or implied connection between these otherwise apparently unrelated events? Or is this some sort of political astrology reading? If it is, then my sign is Jacksonian. Very truly yours, & c., E. Warfield
Peyton Jones April 06, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Time for a change... Career politicians need to GO!!!
The BSD Guy April 06, 2012 at 06:20 PM
This guy seems to bring out the most active part of some peoples imagination. Why? Who knows. Could it be possibly that special interest puppet Moran ("By the Developers and for the Developers "..... Moran ALWAYS capitalizes the "D" in developer) might face actual competition? Howell's web site isn't really clear enough, as far as I'm concerned, to convince me of anything, other than the fact that he's running for office and he's an independent ... and yet some seem so terrified .... AND WE'RE NOT EVEN IN THAT DISTRICT ANYMORE. Sooooooo, are people arguing against this newcomer and unknown really pointing anything of value out, or is it (as usual) more talking heads and marketing monkeys from the development industry trying to preemptively start attempting to shoot down ALL competition that comes in the way of a politician they've paid good money for? The two party system has failed.
NoBS April 06, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I'm still in Moran's district. I don't know about the rest of you.This article was cross posted in several local Patch sites. Regardless...when will Howell state his views on social issues? I want to read that.
Chris S April 08, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Hi Gail, I'm guilty of using an alias too! (real name: Chris Sowder) Anyway, wanted to respond to some of your postings. Though you might not agree with everything Jason has to say on his website, I'm psyched that you took the time to look at it. Must mean others are doing the same. And the criticism from Moran supporters means our campaign has reached another milestone! There is no way I can prove this on here, but I'm hoping you will take me at my word when I say I've known Jason for over 8 years. He's in this for all the right reasons. Just because Jason makes a living as a speaker and author does not automatically make his campaign a gimmick to sell more books. Plus, he's certainly not the first candidate to write a book prior to running for office (including Obama...who was elected as President before even completing a full term in the Senate). To answer some of your other questions, Jason is pro-choice and pro-enhanced civil unions. That is, churches should be free to define marriage however they would like. At the same time, there must be some form of union which affords same-sex couples the same legal rights as marriage. As a proud member of Jason's team, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. You seem like the type of individual who appreciates a good political debate and respects those who take part in the process, even if you don't always agree. Happy Easter! Chris
Scott B May 15, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Even if he is a salesman (which i find funny that is somehow used by you as a slander)....it is FAR better than a 'politician' who is a utter incompetent, total crook, who enriches his family and friends -- while sitting back and being a anti-semite. Thanks for helping widen route 1 for BRAC --- 10 YEARS LATER!!! What a fool.


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