Two Board of Supervisors candidates for the Broad Run District have different reasons for running for the seat. Incumbent Charles “Chuck” Harris (D) wants to see that the planning documents the current board adopted are protected and implemented, while Lori Waters (R)'s wants to focus on lowering taxes.
If elected, Harris plans to work with the next board on policies that will carry out the Revised General Plan and revised zoning ordinance, along with wanting to “fine-tune those documents.” “We need to look from a business perspective to make sure we don’t have unattended consequences in attracting new economic development. In other words, we want new economic development,” he said.
Harris, a resident of Ashburn, wants to see the next board expand by-right uses in commercial and industrial-zoned areas to ease the process of locating in Loudoun. And he wants the board to defend the plan in court. About 120 of the 200 lawsuits filed against the plan likely will be bundled into one lawsuit, as decided by the courts, and the rest appear likely to be dropped, he said.
If elected, Harris plans to improve community safety as it relates to transportation, including improving traffic enforcement, increasing speeding fines and adding signals and stop signs where needed. “We have a number of communities that feel cars are going too fast on their streets,” he said.
Harris plans to improve the county's road networks by bringing together the county, the Virginia Department of Transportation, public-private partnerships and developers to work on projects, along with negotiating with developers to provide proffers earlier in their planned residential and commercial projects.
Another of Harris’s goals regards affordable housing. “We have made it very difficult for younger firefighters, police officers and teachers to live in the county. It’s hard to find places that are affordable,” he said. “We have to address that demand the market is not adequately addressing.”
Harris wants to ensure that the county’s public schools remain high quality. “We need to nudge the school administration and the School Board to bring some innovative thinking to their budget. They need to figure out new ways to fund certain aspects of public education, and we as a Board of Supervisors need to ensure we adequately fund their budget requests,” he said.
WATERS DECIDED to run after seeing her property taxes increase every year, realizing she did not want to be taxed out of her Ashburn Village home, she said. “I think the families in the Broad Run District deserve an advocate on the board, especially when it comes to taxes,” she said, adding that during the board’s term, property taxes have increased by 69 percent. “The current Board of Supervisors view our families as money trees, and that’s got to stop.”
Waters plans, if elected, to be an advocate for taxpayers, to support capping residential taxes and to set fiscal priorities using a zero-based budget approach. She wants to eliminate what she calls “pet projects” from the budget, such as the Purchase of Development Rights program, in favor of providing more funding for schools and rewarding good teachers with increased salaries. “Given the choice between funding schools and pet projects, I choose schools,” she said.
Another goal of Waters is managing the consequences of growth. She believes the board needs to fill in missing roadway links and to upgrade and build new roads. To do this, the board can look at triggers for proffers and encourage developers to provide funding earlier in their projects. The board can work with the county’s delegation to increase the amount of transportation funding the county receives from the state. “Some people fear more roads will bring more people, but what about the people who live here and are sitting in gridlock?” she said, adding that other transportation options include telecommuting and bus rapid transit as a short-term solution before rail is installed to Dulles in 2015. “This board has more concern about future people and keeping future cars of the road, but it goes back to people who live here.”
Waters supports increasing a community policing presence in the county. “The Ashburn Village Homeowners Association has volunteered to provide office space for a community police officer. The county has not taken them up on the offer. I would encourage them to do so,” she said. “With community policing, you have a larger law enforcement presence to discourage crime.”
Welcoming businesses and jobs is something else Waters supports. She plans to improve the predictability and timing of the county’s permit approval process for business development. “We need to make sure Loudoun is a business-friendly environment, and commercial taxes will help relieve residential taxes. They’re quite imbalanced,” she said.