The Washington Post
12 November 2007, p. A20
“Voters in Loudoun County are ready for a change. Disenchanted with local politicians who wanted to keep Loudoun growing at warp speed, they tossed out four of the five reliably pro-growth Republicans who controlled the county Board of Supervisors. Inevitably, the new board will want to signal that the days of rubber-stamping new subdivisions are over. It should be wary of an overreaction. What Loudoun needs, and has lacked, is a moderate middle course on development and a new civility in its politics.
“It’s no surprise that places that expand at breakneck pace give rise to political tumult and elected officials who confuse their constituents’ interests with those of developers. In Loudoun, which has been among the nation’s fastest-growing counties, the ethical murk has prompted an FBI investigation. That, together with horrific traffic, overcrowded schools and the extraordinary venom of political discourse, left many residents dismayed and disgusted. Little wonder they threw out nearly all the rascals.
“Still, the rascals are not quite done; the outgoing board remains in office through the end of the year. And, starting this week, developers, having waited out election season on the sidelines, will be presenting the incumbents with applications to build at least 4,000 new homes. In deference to voters who have spoken clearly in electing new supervisors of a different cast, the outgoing board should defer a final decision on those applications to its successors.
“Still, if the new board that takes office in January jams on the brakes too hard, the result could be lawsuits, adverse court rulings and a return to the politics of inflexibility and character assassination that marked the past few years. That’s not in the county’s interest, and it’s not what voters want, either. With the county facing a depressed housing market, falling revenue and swelling spending on education, this is a moment for pragmatism.”
Editorial: “Restoring Sanity in Loudoun; In Tuesday’s Elections, Plenty of Rascals To Throw Out”
The Washington Post
1 November 2007, p. A20
“In the last four years, Loudoun County has begun to make a name for itself nationally — not only for its breakneck growth and sky-high median income but also as a place where local politicians and developers have cuddled up to each other so brazenly that the FBI and federal prosecutors started asking questions.
“For this, Loudouners can thank the Republican majority on the Board of Supervisors. In their first act four years ago, the Republicans showed their contempt for voters by stripping the board chairman, an Independent and the only board member elected countywide, of most of his power. Then, rather than steer a steady course in what was already the fastest-growing county in America, the supervisors accelerated. The effects in traffic jams, overcrowded schools and higher property taxes will be felt for years.
“Put plainly, the board majority in Loudoun has been an embarrassment. Even after The Post reported on some of the supervisors’ unseemly ties and sweetheart deals with developers, a number of them refused to endorse tighter ethical standards. We hope voters will throw out the rascals in favor of candidates — both Republican and Democratic — who would restore some balance and decency. Elections for the board will be held Tuesday; The Post’s endorsements appear in bold type below:
“Chairman: The incumbent, Scott K. York, although deprived of most of his powers as chairman, has remained a voice for sanity, dignity and pragmatism. His Republican opponent, Michael J. Firetti, a salesman, lacks the slightest grounding in Loudoun’s affairs and was ready to move out of state a year ago, before he was recruited by development interests to challenge Mr. York. Mr. Firetti’s campaign manager and big-time donor — the same man who persuaded him to run for chairman — doubles as a spokesman for major developers.
“Blue Ridge District: Three-term incumbent Jim G. Burton, an Independent, has opposed the majority’s hell-for-leather growth policies. Although he tends to tilt too far in the other direction — for instance, by challenging the state’s plan to add $400 million for badly needed road and rail improvements in Northern Virginia — he is a faithful representative of his largely rural district. His Republican opponent, Mark A. Albright, a businessman, is relatively unversed in county affairs.
“Broad Run District: Lori L. Waters, the conservative incumbent, is the only Republican elected in 2003 who had the judgment to see that the board’s policies would lead the county to ruin. She broke ranks with the majority, earning the enmity of developers but the admiration of constituents who saw her as an honest broker of competing interests. Neither the Democratic candidate, Phyllis J. Randall, a civic activist, nor the Independent, Jack W. Ryan Jr., a software company employee, has been similarly tested.
“Catoctin District: Too many members of the current board have added fuel to a street-fight atmosphere. Incumbent Sarah R. “Sally” Kurtz (D), despite mostly sensible stands on the issues, too often contributed to the acrimony. Her Republican challenger, Geary M. Higgins, is a moderate former School Board member and experienced business negotiator who believes board members should seek a middle ground on transportation and growth-related fiscal issues. He deserves a chance.
“Dulles District: The incumbent, Republican Steve J. Snow, thinks the county should absorb however many new houses the market will bear. Democratic challenger Stevens R. Miller,with broad experience in local government matters, is a bright lawyer who would help restore common sense to growth policies.
“Leesburg District: C. Kelly Burk, the Democratic challenger, is a county public school teacher and Leesburg Town Council member who has been a consistent critic of poor planning. Ms. Burk, who has considerable fiscal expertise, seeks more detailed reviews of the transportation, public safety, school and environmental needs posed by development. Republican Jim E. Clem, the lackluster incumbent, has been a cheerleader for the board’s development policies.
“Potomac District: Bruce E. Tulloch, leader of the Republican majority, has blurred the line between the public’s business and his own, having sought help from developers whose projects he helped before the board. He also steered the county to pay $13.5 million in a dubious land transaction that netted a huge sales commission for one of his key political allies. His Democratic challenger, Andrea C. McGimsey, a business owner and former AOL executive, is a civic activist who would offer common sense in place of Mr. Tulloch’s ethical myopia.
“Sterling District: Eugene A. Delgaudio, the Republican incumbent, is a clownish, abrasive public official who skewers gays, public transit, illegal immigrants and anyone who crosses him, perhaps hoping it will distract from his votes in favor of practically every development proposal. Having opposed measures to improve the board’s ethics practices, he is now raking in campaign cash from developers. His Democratic challenger, business owner Jeanne R. West, is a sensible alternative who would restore dignity to the office.
“Sugarland Run District: The Republican incumbent, D.M. ‘Mick’ Staton Jr., was one of the leaders of the board’s campaign for unbridled growth. Now, incredibly, he poses as a champion of moderation and restraint on taxes. A better bet is Democrat Susan Klimek Buckley, a capable lawyer and civic activist with a special commitment to the school system.
“Sheriff Steve O. Simpson, an Independent and 12-year incumbent, has earned the right to reelection. Unlike Republican candidate Greg J. Ahlemann, Mr. Simpson has refused to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria and has instead appropriately focused attention and resources on arresting those who commit crimes. Mr. Simpson’s 20-plus years of experience in Loudoun law enforcement and his effective management of the department also give him the edge over a worthy Democratic challenger, Michael E. George.
“Voters should vote yes to authorize bonds to finance fire, rescue and sheriff’s stations; schools; community centers; and a library.”