Three men vying for the Board of Supervisors chairman's seat in Loudoun County want to have one of nine votes to set county policies, appropriate funds, and approve land rezonings and special exceptions to the zoning ordinance. But the way incumbent Scott York (I), Bob Gordon (R) and Alfred "Al" Van Huyck (D) see that job differs.
York, a Sterling resident and Loudoun business owner, has served as board chairman for the past four years. He was the Sterling District supervisor from 1996-99 and planning commissioner for the same district from 1991-95.
Gordon, a Loudoun businessman and an attorney with more than 20 years experience, also served on the Planning Commission as the Mercer District supervisor from 1992-93.
Van Huyck, a Round Hill resident, served as the Blue Ridge planning commissioner from 1996-2002 and as the commission's chairman in 2000. He has 40 years experience in planning, economic development and fiscal management.
Most recently, York, Gordon and Van Huyck debated county issues at the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum on Oct. 2, and the Falcons Landing Residents' Council Candidates' Forum 2003, on Oct. 6.
AT THOSE FORUMS, York said that if he is reelected, he plans to continue the current Board of Supervisors' work on the revised Comprehensive Plan and revised zoning ordinance, two planning documents that outline the county's development for the next 20 years.
He promised to improve the county's road infrastructure, including building interchanges to ease congestion on Route 7 and improving Route 659 from Routes 7 to 50; continue to attract and maintain quality educators for Loudoun's schools; and encourage economic development that will bring additional jobs and businesses to the county, a way of diversifying the economy that will help offset the cost of growth.
The board approved the Comprehensive Plan in July 2001 to cut that cost by reducing and changing zoning densities in both western and eastern Loudoun. The plan eliminates 80,000 future homes and 750,000 daily vehicle trips from the county's roadways, York said. "This board has taken a bold step to put together a plan that will save the taxpayers $1.8 billion in school construction costs," he said. That number does not include inflation and debt service, an annual payment on existing debt that is at $74 million and is expected to increase to $100 million next year.
"The key is to keep these items in place ... for the long term," York said. "I want to continue my work pushing for local jurisdictions to get the proper tools to manage growth, to continue to work on the budget and to make sure that our county is an affordable place to live."
The tools York seeks include impact fees charged to developers on each housing unit, an adequate public facility ordinance requiring development to coordinate with the placement of infrastructure and transfer taxes on real estate sales, all of which will need state approval.
But managing that growth can slip. York believes Gordon and the Republican Party want "to reverse the work the board has done" and that Gordon is supported by developers who have suits filed against the county to overturn the Revised Comprehensive Plan. "Their direction is the wrong direction for Loudoun County," he said.
IN RESPONSE, Gordon said the support he receives from the development community and his background in development are a matter of public record, adding that York and Van Huyck also have accepted contributions from the real estate industry. If the next board were to overthrow the plan, it will not get anything else done, he said. "I don't plan on overturning the General Plan."
Gordon called York a "demagogue" at the Falcons Landing Residents' Council Candidates' Forum. "I think we can do a much better job than we've been doing," he said. If elected, he plans to support a detailed review of the county budget to give a program-by-program breakdown of spending by each department that likely will lead to more judicious spending, he said.
Gordon, who considers himself a fiscal conservative, supports controlling residential growth, requiring builders to pay more for the costs of development and limiting government spending, which he considers too high under the current board.
"We need an improved approach to Richmond," Gordon said, adding that the board blames state legislators for being in the "pockets of developers." "We need a more cooperative approach with developers," he said.
According to Gordon, the county needs to control growth and find solutions to traffic congestion while holding the line on taxes and spending. Gordon plans to address the shortage of work-force housing and consider planned communities, as opposed to large-lot, by-right developments, as a way to provide more affordable housing.
VAN HUYCK, a former Planning Commissioner from 1996 to 2002, agrees with Gordon on the need to take a closer look at the budget. He supports zero-based budgeting, which was last done in 1992, to look at how every tax dollar is spent and find ways to spend county funds more efficiently and effectively. In response, York said the county does review the budget every year, a process that takes several months.
Like York, Van Huyck worked on the Planning Commission to help control sprawl and manage growth. He liked the fact that the Revised Comprehensive Plan kept western Loudoun rural, "but I've been disappointed that so little has been accomplished. ... Until it's implemented, we haven't achieved much. I supported the new zoning, but it is only a start."
Van Huyck said he is running for office believing "we can do much better. It is not enough to just bash developers and complain about the failure to get help in Richmond. We need a positive program to deal with the challenges facing Loudoun County."
If elected, Van Huyck plans to create public-private partnerships that would help implement the Comprehensive Plan and to address growth issues in eastern Loudoun. "I have a Work-Force Housing policy to address the need for more affordable housing. I have a proposal to establish an office of HOA affairs in the county to provide direct assistance to these mini-governments," he said.
Van Huyck also plans to prioritize transportation projects, including completing the Loudoun Tri-County Parkway, the interchanges on Route 28 and Route 7 and making improvements to Route 606.