Tom Bellanca, running as an Independent for chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, announced his endorsements for Tuesday’s election. Bellanca said:
In the past 12 months and in many cases the past 5-10 years, I’ve gotten to know many of the candidates involved in this local election personally. While there are no candidates I dislike, and most of the candidates can, I believe, do a good job, I believe it necessary to indicate which of those candidates I believe will be and act in the best interests of the residents of the county. For this reason, I am endorsing the following candidates for leadership in our county. I believe these persons to be the best options to lead our county forward in all respects and I hope you will vote for them on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.
Board of Supervisors and Constitutional Officers:
Chairman At Large – Tom Bellanca (I)
Sheriff – Michael Chapman (R)
Commonwealth’s Attorney – Jim Plowman (R)
Clerk of the Court – Gary Clemons (R)
Treasurer – Roger Zurn (R)
Commissioner of the Revenue – Bob Wertz (R)
Ashburn District – Ralph Buona (R)
Sterling District – Koran Saines (D)
Blue Ridge District – Richard Jimmerson (I)
Catoctin District – Craig Green (D)
Dulles District – Matthew F. Letourneau (R)
Algonkian District – Andrew Resnick (D)
Broad Run District – Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R)
Leesburg – Kristen Umstattd (D)
At Large – Stephen Knoblock
Algonkian – Ryan Myers
Blue Ridge District – Jill Turgeon
Catoctin District – Dusty Sparrow Reed
Leesburg District – Tom Marshall
Sterling District – Brenda Sheridan
Dulles District – Jeff Morse
Broad Run – Joy Maloney
Ashburn – Eric Hornberger
The two Loudoun County supervisors who live in Sterling don’t always agree, but they are on the same page in rejecting a supervisor candidate’s call for new residential development in the district.
Longtime residents Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Scott York (I-At Large) say the Sterling community does not need the type of redevelopment sought by Phyllis Randall, a Democratic Party nominee who lives in Lansdowne and is running for York’s position as Board chair in the November elections.
Among her suggestions for Sterling District, Randall recommended “redevelopment of some of their shopping areas to mixed use communities.”
In a newsletter earlier this week, Delgaudio said “‘redevelopment’ is the wrong word to use in Sterling.” He warned that Randall’s plan would mean density-packing of new residences, and a corresponding negative impact on schools, traffic and emergency services.
Delgaudio told FirewallNOVA that converting existing shopping areas to mixed-use “will lead to residential high-rises and apartments that will change the character of the Sterling community.”
York agreed that Randall’s suggestion to bring mixed-use developments is “very concerning.”
“Sterling doesn’t need to be redeveloped,” York said. “The shopping center needs to be revitalized. But other than that, I like the community the way it is. I’m not going to support any plan of hers to come in and try to density-pack Sterling.”
Randall’s fellow Democrat, Koran Saines, who is running against Delgaudio for the Sterling seat, sounded a similar note, saying he envisions “revitalizing” the district in a way that would “not take away from the character of Sterling Park.”
Republican members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors are all supporting Republican candidates in the November elections, which means none of them are supporting the Independent candidate for chair, the Loudoun Times-Mirror has revealed. The only Board member who is not supporting the Republican candidate for chair is Shawn Williams, who left the GOP last month when making plans to run as an Independent and is supporting Scott York, also an Indepedent, for chair.
The Loudoun Time-Mirror labels this turn of events a “curious political dynamic.”
Since the local press, god bless’em, provide fuller coverage of retail openings and closings than of local politics, far be it from us to dampen their enthusiasm when they do venture down this weird, perplexing road. We should, however, be willing to help smooth the path when possible.
These political parties are, in some respects, mysteries wrapped in enigmas wrapped in press releases, and thus inscrutable. In other ways, however, they are simple.
Let us attempt to untangle the Case of the Curious Dynamic.
A Mystery Surfaces
The roiling controversy did not spring up ex nihilo this week, mind you. It was actually born long ago, in the faint, hazy past of earlier this month.
At the Republican “unity” event in Leesburg on June 5, during the interview portion, the Loudoun Times-Mirror reporter noted the Republican supervisors were standing in support of Republican nominee for chair, Charlie King, instead of current chair, Scott York, the Independent. The reporter asked why they have “switched gears” to support King, when in the past they have praised York’s work on the Board.
Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) took a stab at it: “Because we’re Republicans.”
Not so easily turned aside, the reporter pursued: “That’s it?”
After a pause of two seconds that felt like 20, Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) mercifully chimed in with a critique of York that went a bit beyond what Charlie King had covered in-depth ten minutes earlier, getting time moving again and the reporter off the hook.
How That Pledge, Such As It Is, Works
Since that lesson apparently did not sink in, we shall review the main requirement of campaigning under the Republican label.
Despite what we have already established about the overall bogosity of the LCRC pledge, one part is less bogus than the others, and that is where if you are a Republican candidate for office, you don’t publicly support non-Republicans running against Republicans. Nobody would likely go through the trouble of getting the GOP nomination if not prepared to jump through that particular hoop.
Republicans are going to support Republicans publicly, almost every time. That is not a piece of shocking news. Any Republican candidate doing otherwise would be shocking, not to mention enormously inconvenient for the candidate.
That’s what would constitute a news flash.
And anybody bothering to read this political blog is probably saying to themselves, “Well, duh.” (Except at the LTM, where I imagine the reaction is: “The hell you say!”)
To be sure, there are curious aspects to the 2015 campaign for Board of Supervisors, in that the local Republican Party was split over the sheriff primary contest last month, and one faction in that battle is tied closely to the campaign of Charlie King. Oaths were uttered, suspicions raised, charges of treason tossed around, and some say bridges might have been burned. But that is inside-inside baseball. Even in that cloudy picture, most of the GOP will be pro-GOP for public attribution. If you want to report that story, you will have to dig deep into a thicket of anonymous sources.
But the question of whether any Loudoun Republican nominee, anywhere, is going to publicly support Scott York, is about as newsworthy as mosquitoes biting in summer.
After a decade of unprecedented growth, Loudoun County faces a new phase of changes and opportunities. Phyllis Randall believes it’s time for fresh leadership, and a new tone of openness and ethics in county government.
The Democratic Party nominee for chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (BOS), Randall has a twenty-year history of volunteer service in roles of increasing responsibility, including her current position as vice chair of the Virginia Board of Corrections. Throughout her time in public service, Randall has also maintained a career in the mental health field, which she intends to put on hold if elected to the Loudoun BOS.
In a recent interview with FirewallNOVA, Randall set forth a clear policy agenda regarding education, development, attracting businesses, and the need to revisit the county’s Comprehensive Plan. On education, for instance, she’s committed to increasing science/math/technology and vocational instruction, and establishing a more cooperative relationship between the BOS and the School Board. She has specific ideas about the Loudoun Gateway and Ashurn Station Metro developments. She wants to improve the transportation grid to make the county more business-friendly (a proposal echoed the other day in Reston with regard to the Silver Line).
In the area of politics, Randall takes exception to the idea that Sterling’s Eugene Delgaudio is attracting Democrats to vote for him.
Moreover, beyond politics and policy, Phyllis Randall thinks it’s time to put a new “face” on Loudoun County. The current chair, Scott York (whom we interviewed earlier this week) has held the office since 2001. Randall wants to apply her own leadership experience to make the government more open, and “build a respectful relationship that honors the job we have been elected to do for the citizens of the county.”
FWN: For Loudoun residents who don’t know about you: I think of you as a “moderate” Democrat. Is that true, and what does it mean?
The Loudoun Times-Mirror has a handy list of all filed candidates for every race in Loudoun this year. Before you click on over there, here’s a trivia question for you: how many races are there in the county this year? You won’t get to vote in all of them, but the number is still mind-boggling. Remember that all of them count on support from their party committees (unless they are independents without a party endorsement). Party committees are composed entirely of volunteers who care enough to want the process to work (to work in favor of their candidates, of course, but that’s why there are two committees, not just one). It’s a lot of work for not a lot of thanks. Even though we have different agendas, I like to think that the volunteers on the left and the volunteers on the right do have one thing in common: we all care enough about the future of our county, state, and country, to put our feet on the ground, our hands on the doors, and our hearts in the game.
(By the way, the LTM omits the party designations for the Broad Run district supervisor’s race: Ron Meyer, Jr, is the Republican; Al Nevarez is the Democrat.)
In the recent political fundraising reporting period, Algonkian District Supervisor Suzanne Volpe collected $31,942, and had $122,184 on hand as of May 27. Her opponent, Democrat Andrew Resnick, brought in a total of $4,010 from April 1 to May 27. He had $25,279 on hand.
Volpe, a Republican, had the highest money totals of local candidates. Sterling District Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, also a Republican, was next with $84,727 on hand.
Barring any disqualifications, the candidates who will be listed on Loudoun County voters’ ballots on the November 3, 2015 elections have been set. Despite rumors to the contrary, no new candidates for sheriff filed to run. And Shawn Williams did NOT throw his hat into the ring to revive his previously announced run for chair of the Board of Supervisors. (The day after Williams was reported to be making calls to build a campaign team, this happened.) The Democratic candidate for chair, Phyllis Randall, states that she shares Scott York’s wish to revisit the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
Tea-partier Mark Berg, the one-term delegate in whom Bob Marshall finally found a friend, has been defeated by Frederick county supervisor Chris Collins. Berg is a medical doctor who points to his degree for credibility, and consults his bible for constitutionality (being yet another official who believes God wrote the Bill of Rights, so phooie on you, James Madison).
Collins is no leftie, so whatever cheers this deserves should be specific to getting rid of another extremist. From his Web page, Collins is clear that he’s a solidly conservative Republican. Yet, compared to Berg, he may be (I said, “may be”) relatively moderate. His statement on the issues speaks approvingly of, “friendly labor laws,” and says that a woman who, “chooses to have an abortion” should be given “better options.” Better options is subtly different than fewer options, which the Marshalls and the Bergs prefer. I’m not saying Mr. Collins is pro-choice. I doubt that he is. But it is refreshing, at least, to read the position statement of a Republican who speaks in terms of things like friendly laws and better options, rather than proclaiming divine knowledge and declaring support for more proscriptions on women’s rights.
There is no Democrat or other candidate on the ballot. (Kristine Stubbs “failed to qualify, according to VPAP.) Mr. Collins is assured of election. Whether we can be assured he is at all moderate, compared to Mr. Berg, will have to be seen. What’s worthy of note today, however, is that he appears to have run as comparatively moderate during his primary race, and beaten an incumbent, far-right fellow traveler of Bob Marshall’s by doing so.
One takes one’s evidence of moderation in places like Frederick county with a healthy bit of skepticism. So, for the victory of Mr. Collins over Mr. Berg, I can’t quite say, “Hurray!!!” But it’s a sign at least worthy of approval.
Chairman Scott York thinks the decisions facing the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors over the next four years are too important to be used as on-the-job training.
Having served as Board chair since 2001, York was planning to leave public office when the current term concludes at the end of the year. But after being on the receiving end of an “outpouring of concern for the quality of leadership” from constituents, he reconsidered, and is running for a fifth term.
York is running for the office once again as an Independent, as he did prior to the current term, and will face declared challengers Charlie King (Republican), Phyllis Randall (Democrat), and Tom Bellanca (Independent).
In a recent interview with FirewallNOVA, York discussed the key upcoming challenges and opportunities for the next Board, his message to voters of all political persuasions, fellow Sterling resident Eugene Delgaudio, York’s endorsements for county offices, and various other issues. (This is part of an occasional series of candidate interviews prior to the November 3 elections. FirewallNOVA plans to interview Republican nominee Charlie King in the near future. Democrat Phyllis Randall and Independent Tom Bellanca have not yet made themselves available for interviews.)
By not participating in the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) convention, York is again able to launch his Independent bid without having broken the LCRC “pledge” – the same tack he took earlier in his political career when leaving the GOP. Though he took criticism from LCRC Chairman Mike Haynes, York said the current group of candidates for chair “is simply not qualified to lead the county.”
York believes any voters who “do their homework” or talk to the other candidates will come to the same conclusion.
After serving for four years as Sterling District supervisor, York was elected chairman in 2000 and has held the office ever since. Last month, recognized as “Citizen of the Year” by the Loudoun Times-Mirror and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, York was praised for his “steady presence” over the four terms, whose “leadership was critical to the historic change in residential and business growth.”
In the coming years, that leadership will be just as crucial, according to York. The next Board will need to handle numerous important policy issues, including: oversight of critical transportation improvements; a long-overdue review of the county’s Comprehensive Plan; Silver Line Comprehensive Plan Amendments, initiated by the current Board to study land uses surrounding the new stations; as well as address school budget funding, new school construction, and requests for all-day kindergarten.
Tom Bellanca announced on Facebook yesterday morning that his candidacy for chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is a go.
It’s official, I’m running for Loudoun County Board of Supervisors again. In order to run, I need your support. Please consider making a small contribution of $5.00, $10, $20 or $50 or more to my campaign. You can give online through my AirCharity account by clicking on the below link. Thank you for your support!
Michael Haynes, chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC), observed that “after days of rain and gloomy weather, the sun came out to welcome our candidates,” an appropriate backdrop for Friday’s GOP “Unity” event in Leesburg. Joined by Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck, it served as an unofficial kickoff for the 2015 campaign, a chance to clarify positions on Independent candidates, and an opportunity to smooth over differences from the recent LCRC convention.
King took two Independent candidates to task: Scott York (Board chair), who left the Republican Party, and Steve Simpson (sheriff candidate), who pledged to support the 2015 ticket, and then broke the pledge for a second time since 2007.
Regarding Simpson, King said that for police, “reputation is everything”:
Based on an officer’s word, people will be convicted of crimes and sent to jail. How can Steve Simpson possibly lead the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office when he cannot honor simple promises to play by the rules?
But King focused most of his condemnation on York, his opponent for Board chair. He characterized York’s change of heart about seeking another term as “waffling”:
Loudoun County needs a decisive leader. If Mr. York takes months to make a decision while reversing himself over and over, how can the voters believe he is capable of making the many tough calls the next Board will have to make?
The GOP nominee for Broad Run supervisor, Ron Meyer, highlighted nuts-and-bolts issues showing the Republican ticket unified on “conservative values to make people’s lives better …. Better commute, better schools, better cost of living, a better place to be.” Meyer noted the economic potential of Metro locations coming to Loudoun, and said commercial development will allow the county to continue increasing school funding and road improvements.
Meyer said the best way to seek lower fees on the Greenway is by expanding alternatives to the Greenway: “Take it to their pocket book so we can bring them to the table.”
In one of the stranger political counterpoints in recent memory, Loudoun County’s Democratic and Republican constitutional officer candidates each made their own respective news yesterday. The Republicans came out ahead.
While the LCRC was all about unity and party, the LCDC (“LC” possibly now meaning “Litigation Central”) was more evocative of hoisting, and petards.
On a sunny Friday afternoon on the historic Leesburg courthouse steps, Loudoun County Republican candidates and elected officials stood in a show of unity, delivering statements and holding a brief press conference.
Notably, Sheriff Mike Chapman and Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman shared the same stage. Just over a month ago, at the LCRC convention, Plowman opposed Chapman’s nomination to another term. Plowman had actively supported Chapman’s primary opponent, Eric Noble. (Plowman was unopposed for nomination).
Chapman, appearing relaxed and upbeat, said the convention had provided Republicans “an opportunity to air our differences,” and
Now is the time when we all pull together… We share the same values of fiscal responsibility, law and order, the ability to treat each other with dignity and respect. This is about pooling all of our resources together, working as a team, going forward as a team, and making sure that the voters out there understand what we’re all about.
Asked whether his campaign would highlight any of the ethics questions involving his current opponent and former sheriff Stephen O. Simpson, raised in the media during the 2011 campaign, Chapman said he ran a positive campaign then, and would take the same approach in 2015, emphasizing the accomplishments of the past four years.
The cheery end to the week did not extend to the Democratic side of town, and here is where the irony comes in: Just prior to the GOP unity event, the Loudoun Times-Mirror published a story about the Loudoun Democrats’ rejection of their candidate for sheriff – to be a member of their own political committee. (Also noted here at FWN.) When the vote came, according to the report, it appears the sheriff candidate did not receive a single vote from the membership.
But that may not have been the biggest news in the piece by reporter Crystal Owens. Brian Allman, the sheriff nominee, who is now engaged in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against at least one LCDC member, apparently was originally supported for nomination by the Democrats’ candidate for commonwealth’s attorney, Bob Ohneiser. (In order to be voted on, Allman’s nomination for membership had to be seconded at the previous month’s meeting, and that second was provided by Ohneiser.)
Whether Ohneiser brought Allman to the LCDC for consideration originally, Owens’ story does not say, but Ohneiser’s support for Allman might clear up one mystery: How did Allman get the sheriff nomination in the first place, when he was not even a member of the committee? Vouching by a prominent local Democrat like Ohneiser could have made a newcomer’s path to nomination smoother.
So while the Republican commonwealth’s attorney candidate was working very publicly against the eventual Republican sheriff nominee, the Democratic CA candidate was supporting the Democrats’ sheriff nominee. And while the first two have made up well enough now, in June, to present at least a nominal united front, the latter two may still be united, but the only “front” they present is more like the lead cars in a train wreck.
It would not be surprising if, during the upcoming campaign, Republican candidates posed the question to their Democratic opponents: Have you gotten your house in order yet, and what have you learned, to assure voters you would not bring the management chaos of the Democratic Committee to Loudoun County as a whole?
The LTM story also does not say whether LCDC Chair Val Suzdak has changed her position on the Brian Allman nomination. In a March press release, Suzdak praised the LCDC ticket – including Brian Allman – as “the strongest, most dedicated, and most virtuous group of candidates I’ve seen since I’ve lived here in Loudoun County.” However, at this time, Allman is no longer listed on the LCDC Web page as a 2015 candidate. Suzdak has not responded to a FirewallNOVA request for comment.
The Democratic Party, as a rule, champions the right to redress a wrong through legal means, which is seen as a key protection accorded everyone in modern civil society. Without the right to sue for damages, the average citizen has no legal recourse.
We will need to wait and see if the Loudoun Democrats can move on from this episode of misunderstanding, and join together in support of their own average citizen, a sheriff candidate who thus far appears to have done no more than exercise his Democratic-supported right to redress. Maybe they will even have the discussion about his qualifications which they should have had months ago, and then reconsider his membership (although one supposes he would need to drop the lawsuit first). If Brian Allman becomes a committee member, the LCDC will save face and Allman will likely have an easier time conducting a viable campaign.