On his website, Will Radle calls Democratic primary opponent Rep. Jim Moran an “icon for insularity, arrogance and corruption.”
In person, he’s more conciliatory.
“Obviously, when you have a 20-year incumbent, the first question is, ‘Why are you running against Jim?’ And it’s like, no. I’m running so Jim, his family, our community can have a better quality of life,” Radle told Patch recently.
“I’m not running against Jim,” he continued. “I know this may sound naive, but I’m running for Jim. I want him to have a better life. I want his family to have a better life.”
Although he has never held elected public office, Radle has served on a number of local committees, including the Lee District Land Use and Transportation Committee. A Franconia resident, Radle is one several challengers Moran will face in the Democratic primary for Virginia’s 8th District.
His platform centers on economic growth, and Radle said he aims to double the GDP of the United States in the next 10 years.
His aims are high. Radle’s platform includes:
- Making Social Security solvent without reducing benefits
- Providing every American similar health care coverage allowed to congressmen and senators
- Increasing household income
- Balancing the budget and eliminating the federal deficit
- Lowering tax rates
- Lowering the cost of American production and increasing international competitiveness
- Investing up to $2,000 per public school student annually to increase grade-level proficiency
Radle also wants to eliminate the income tax, the alternative minimum tax, gifts and estate taxes and the corporate income tax. This would allow the United States should exploit its comparative advantage of local manufacturing to increase production and achieve greater competitiveness, he said. In return, he would institute a national retail sales tax -- the so-called FairTax -- at a starting rate of 20 percent and a legacy tax on net worth.
These measures, he said, would help restore confidence in government and create a culture of sustainability. “We have an issue of trust,” Radle said. “We have an issue of confidence. When the credit bureaus are questioning our solvency, rightly so … we need to move forward with confidence, and we need to treat the federal government as an entity to invest in.”
Although his proposals for tax cuts may take a conservative or libertarian bent, Radle said his ideas are not the purview of Republicans alone.
“I think that economic growth is a nonpartisan issue,” he said. “I think that lowering the cost of production is a nonpartisan issue. I think increasing investments in education, I think that universal health care, with embedded choice and competition … is a core mission of the Democratic Party.”
On social issues, Radle said he supports equal rights for the LGBT community and universal health care. He is also pro-choice.
Carl Sell, who has served with Radle on the Lee District Land Use and Transportation Committee, called Radle a man who “asks a lot of questions.”
“He’s learned a lot,” Sell said. “It’s a very difficult thing to grasp. Land use is not just for someone to fly in and fly out, so he’s made an effort to graph the intricacies of land use. I don’t always agree with his conclusions, but I know that he has done his homework.”
Don Tasker, past president of Radle’s community association, the Franconia Commons Homeowners Association, said Radle was a friendly person.
“He’s just an all-around good guy in the community, as far I know,” Tasker said.
A Fairfax County native, Radle survived what he calls “challenging times” early in life. His father died when he was in high school, and Radle became homeless and struggled with depression. For a time he lived in the Eleanor U. Kennedy Shelter on Route 1, where the staff, he said, was very supportive. He went on to graduate from Northern Virginia Community College.
His past, Radle said, has influenced his political outlook.
“I think it’s helped strengthen my empathy for people and instilled a desire to listen, a humility,” he said. “You’ll never hear me say I don’t really care about the really poor, because I care about people along the entire socioeconomic spectrum. I want wealthy, affluent Americans to be wealthier, more affluent tomorrow than they are today. The basis of my plan is expanding opportunity for every American.”
Radle formerly worked as an insurance agent for AFLAC but left that job last year to focus on his campaign, he said. In 2011, he ran as an independent candidate for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Incumbent Democrat Sharon Bulova won that race, with Radle receiving only 1.53 percent of the vote.
Radle also took a lead in creating a nonprofit called the National Education Trust, although the organization's funding fell through when the recession hit.
In July 2010, Radle pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in Arlington County. He received a 12-month suspended sentence and was required to enter an anger management program. Radle has said the incident was an argument between adults over a parking space and noted he pleaded guilty under an Alford plea, in which a defendant claims innocence while acknowledging prosecutors likely have enough evidence to obtain a guilty verdict.
Radle lives with his wife and their four dogs.