When Potomac District candidates Bruce Tulloch and Afeefa Syeed volunteered at the community level, they realized they could do more for the new district as members of the Board of Supervisors.
Tulloch, a Potomac Falls resident, is running on the Republican ticket, and Syeed, a Sterling resident, is backed by the Democratic Party to represent the area including Countryside, Cascades, Broad Run Farms and the Dulles Town Center.
A Northern Virginia native, Tulloch (R) moved to Loudoun County 10 years ago and became president of the Countryside Home Owners’ Association (HOA) in 1998. “I kept running into roadblocks at the county level after doing everything at the HOA level. It was important to me to get to the county level to champion causes of the people of the Potomac district,” he said, adding that he believes HOAs and other community organizations encounter difficulty when trying to communicate with and get their input heard by the county. “It’s the real burning issues that get addressed.”
Syeed (D) also moved to Loudoun 10 years ago. She joined the Sterling Foundation, the Sterling Community Coalition and several other community organizations, where she says she has learned first-hand about some of the issues residents living in the Potomac District face. From there, she wants to bring a “grass-roots perspective” and fresh approach to county government. “I realized we could have a better impact through the political process. My husband said either get involved at that level or stop complaining about things. That was my impetus,” she said.
AS HOA president, Tulloch represented the Potomac District before the Board of Supervisors to request safety improvements, such as adding preventative measures against cut-through traffic on Countryside and Cascades boulevards, and in Richmond to obtain $7 million in funding to build the Route 7 and Algonkian Parkway bridge.
If he is elected, Tulloch has several priorities for the Potomac District and the county. He wants to increase support and funding of the Sheriff’s Office and encourage a top-down review of the Office to identify its needs for a growing population. He wants to see the Board of Supervisors place more emphasis on alternative transportation sources, such as public-private partnerships and special tax districts, fix the missing links in the existing roadway system and communicate to the state the county’s need for additional transportation funding.
In addition, Tulloch wants to see improvements to the county’s services for the Potomac District, particularly in the area of recreational services. “There needs to be an investigation of where there are opportunities to save green space and incorporate it to what’s already here,” he said. “Everyone’s talking about what’s being developed instead of what’s already developed. … Most of the Potomac District is built out.”
Another priority of Tulloch’s is in education. He wants the Board of Supervisors to sit in on more of the School Board’s meetings. “Every time it comes to the budget, there is an environment of distrust. It’s always us versus them. It has to be a spirit of cooperation in the best interest of children,” he said.
In addition, Tulloch supports using a zero-based budget to hold each of the county departments accountable, justify budget expenses and encourage county savings, he said. “We need the county associates to think about the county as a business,” said Tulloch, who has worked in executive management positions for the past 19 years. “More and more, the government has not been accountable to the people. They are accountable to special interests.”
Tulloch wants to see Loudoun become more business friendly, he said. “We’ve done a bad job attracting new businesses. We’ve driven businesses out of the county in droves,” he said. “Loudoun County has been closed to business for a long time. Everyone from the small business to the large business is saying the same thing,” he said, adding that the county’s permitting process does not help.
Building that economic base and managing residential growth is something Tulloch wants to see done in a well-managed and commonsense manner. He favors reviewing the county’s Revised Comprehensive Plan, a 20-year planning document for the county’s future growth. “We have ordinances that don’t protect taxpayers. They protect streams,” he said. “We’re taxing our taxpayers because of our ordinances.”
IF ELECTED, Syeed’s primary goal will be to steer the county’s growth model in a “sustainable direction,” she said. She wants to make sure infrastructure is built before the county accepts new development and that the county streamlines the process for new businesses to locate in Loudoun. “By bringing all parties, such as developers and slow growth advocates, into the process of sustainable growth, we can ensure that every project reflects a healthy and holistic balance between commerce and community,” she said in her campaign literature.
Syeed has several goals for the Potomac District and the county at large. Like Tulloch, she wants to see the county implement a zero-based budget, along with wanting to see the Board of Supervisors review the annual budget in an open public process. She wants to establish community forums in the Potomac District to open up communication lines between the constituents and the Board of Supervisors and to hold herself accountable as a supervisor, she said. “There’s a disconnection between people living here and county government,” she said. “I’m concerned about taking the solutions people have seriously and not leaving anyone out.”
Syeed promises to work to maintain competitive salaries for teachers and smaller class sizes and to improve and expand school facilities. She plans to work with developers to incorporate affording housing units in each new development and to work on increasing transportation alternatives, including expanding roadways, sidewalks and bike lanes; bringing rail to Dulles; supporting future projects that are transit-oriented; and requiring infrastructure to be in place before approving new development.
“We need to focus more on completing the infrastructure in the east and preserving what open space we have,” Syeed said, adding that she has heard conflicting views on the Purchase of Development Rights program aimed at preserving land and open space in the county. She proposes holding a referendum on the program, while Tulloch favors eliminating taxpayer funds as a way to support the program, which he believes should be supported with private funds.
“I feel I’ve lived in the community long enough to understand the issues and concerns. I want to be part of a board that addresses issues head on,” Syeed said. “I’m not in this for a political career.”