More than 60,000 Loudoun voters are expected to be hitting the polls this Tuesday to vote for state and local officials and on two referendum questions.
Dianna Price, secretary of the Board of Elections, is expecting voter turnout to be 50 percent. As of Oct. 12, there were 125,404 registered voters, and by Oct. 22, 141 of the voters had submitted their absentee ballots. They are electing local senators and delegates, four constitutional officers and the entire Board of Supervisors and School Board. Two referendum questions are for school and public safety capital projects.
"It's an important [election], and everyone should recognize that importance and exercise their power to vote," said Robert "Bob" Sevila, chairman of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.
One of the referendum questions regards the funding of two elementary schools, one in the Belmont area and the second in the Leesburg area, to open in fall 2005. A "yes" vote will allow the county to issue $27.39 million in general obligation bonds to design, construct and equip the two schools. The Belmont area elementary school, or ES-6, is proposed for a proffered site in Belmont Country Club at a cost of $13.325 million, and the Leesburg area elementary school, or ES-13, at a cost of $14.065 million.
The second referendum question asks voters to approve $14.525 million in bonds for two combined fire and sheriff substations, one in the Brambleton area at a cost of $8.63 million and the second in the Lansdowne area at a cost of $5.895 million. Currently, Loudoun County has 20 substations and a temporary station in South Riding that will be built as a permanent station in 2005. The substations take 24 to 28 months to build.
VOTERS WILL be asked to elect a senator either for the 27th District or for the 33rd District to serve a four-year term. The division of the districts at the state and county levels resulted in 16 ballot versions for the election of state and local officials.
The candidates for the 27th District are Russell Potts, Jr. (R), incumbent and a Winchester resident, and Mark Herring (D), Leesburg representative for the Board of Supervisors and a Leesburg resident. William "Bill" Mims (R) of Sterling, incumbent and a former 32nd District delegate, is running uncontested in the 33rd District where he has served as senator since 1998.
Voters will be asked to elect a delegate for one of four open seats to serve a two-year term. Incumbents Joe May (R) of Leesburg and Gary Reese (R) of Oak Hill are running uncontested in the 33rd District and 67th District respectively.
Incumbent Thomas Davis Rust (R) and Jim Kelly (D) are running for the 86th District. Rust, a Herndon resident, served on the Herndon Town Council for 25 years before becoming a senator in 2002. He identified the top three issues facing the district as education, transportation and real estate assessments. Kelly, a Sterling resident, identified the top issues as increasing tax rates and traffic congestion and the need for tax reform at the state level.
Candidates Richard "Dick" Black (R), incumbent; Patti Morrissey (D); and David McWatters (I) are running to serve in the 32nd District. Black, a Sterling resident and delegate since 1998, plans to continue fighting against higher taxes and to support families, schools and improved transportation. Morrissey, a Lowes Island resident, plans to focus on reducing traffic congestion, promoting education and better managing county growth. McWatters' focus is on public education, transportation and taxes and increasing the amount of funding the state provides for localities. He served on the Board of Supervisors from 1996-2000 and is a Sterling resident.
THREE OF THE FOUR open constitutional officer races at the county level are contested for four-year terms. Roger Zurn, Jr. (R) is running uncontested to continue serving as the county treasurer. James "Jim" Plowman (R) is running against incumbent Robert "Bob" Anderson to serve as Commonwealth's Attorney. The Commonwealth's Attorney handles the prosecution of criminal offenses in Loudoun County from eight police agencies, including the Sheriff's Office.
Anderson, a Purcellville resident, said the office needs communication, cooperation and coordination when handling criminal cases.
Plowman of South Riding believes that the prosecution office and law enforcement "must work hand in hand to be effective and efficient," he said.
Two candidates are running to serve as the next Commissioner of Revenue to handle the assessments of business tangible personal property, business license and personal property taxes. Catherine Ashby is resigning as Commissioner of the Revenue at the end of the year after serving in the role since 1985.
Bob Wertz, Jr. (R) of Ashburn and Franco Luz (D) of Leesburg are running for the seat.
Wertz, an employee of the Commissioner of Revenue's Office for the past 11 years, wants to expedite the taxation process and gain local tax control.
Luz wants to become a voice for lower taxes and to reach out to Loudoun residents to make sure they receive all of their entitlements to tax breaks and can afford to live in the county.
SIX CANDIDATES are vying to serve as the county Sheriff in the most contested race in Loudoun. They are incumbent Stephen Simpson (R), sheriff for the past eight years, Chris Jones (D) and independent candidates Phillip Daughenbaugh, Mark Davis, Chris Harmison and Peter "Pete" Kalitka.
Simpson, a Purcellville resident, plans to coordinate with federal, state and regional entities "to ensure possession of the latest intelligence in security matters," expand community policing, develop new initiatives in traffic safety and improve communications with the public, he said.
Simpson's opponents have several plans for office if they are elected:
* Jones, Ashburn resident, plans to implement community policing and contemporary problem-solving models of policing in each community in the county.
* Daughenbaugh, Leesburg resident, wants to increase public school protection and provide more street patrol, adding that he and ranked officers also will ride patrol.
* Davis, Middleburg resident, wants to take immediate action on issues that threaten the safety of Loudoun, including gangs and Homeland Security and provide support and leadership for the staff.
* Harmison, Ashburn resident, pointed to the importance of education, prevention and enforcement. "Everything we do has to work off community policing and problem-solving," he said.
* Kalitka, Paeonian Springs resident, wants to set professional standards and establish an intelligence division and anti-gang and counter-terrorism task forces.
AT THE BOARD of Supervisors level, three candidates are vying to serve as chairman, while the candidates for each of the eight districts face one opponent. The nine candidates who are elected will serve a four-year term.
Bob Gordon (R) and Alfred "Al" Van Huyck (D), both of the Round Hill area, are running against Sterling resident Scott York (I), who has served as a Republican on the board since 2000. He was the Sterling District Supervisor from 1996-99 and Planning Commissioner for the same district from 1991-95. Gordon served on the Planning Commission as the Mercer District Commissioner from 1992-93 and Van Huyck as the Blue Ridge Commissioner from 1996-2002 and as the commission's chairman in 2000.
York 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. York promises to improve the county's road infrastructure and encourage economic development to help offset the costs of growth. "Growth has had an impact on the budget because of school growth," he said, adding that the county is spending less per capita than it did eight to 10 years ago. "We have several challenges in our community: schools, transportation, growth and economic development," he said.
Gordon, who says he is fiscally conservative and pro-business, supports controlling residential growth, requiring builders to pay more for the costs of development and limiting government spending, which he considers to be too high under the current board. He wants to see the county set priorities for road improvement projects and improve the proffer system that helps the county fund and complete the projects. As for the General Plan, he does not support "down zoning" western Loudoun as extensively as the current board nor keeping it at an A-3 zoning, or one housing unit per three acres, under the previous 1993 plan, he said. The zoning for western Loudoun now is at A-20 and A-50 under the revised plan.
Van Huyck says he is a fiscal conservative, pro-business and a supporter of zero-based budgeting. He plans to create public-private partnerships that would help the county implement the Revised Comprehensive Plan, to address growth issues in eastern Loudoun and to prioritize transportation projects, bringing developers "back to the table" to review proffers. "We can do much better," he said. "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."
York and seven of the other eight board members were elected in 1999 on a Smart Growth platform. York promised the voters to slow down residential growth and "bring less taxes, less traffic and a better quality of life to the county," Gordon said at the Chamber of Commerce's Chairman's Debate Oct. 23, a 2003 Leadership Series event on local, state and federal government issues. He asked his opponents to define Smart Growth, which he defined as "good planning repackaged" that places homes where infrastructure already exists and is a vision of where the county is headed."
York defined Smart Growth as growing at a rate the county can afford, adding that "dumb growth" is building school after school.
"Smart Growth is a slogan, not a program," Van Huyck said. "The General Plan allows for 100,000 units in the next 20 years, locates development strategically ... and allows business to grow. We've been neglecting the work that needs to be done in Loudoun. I'm saying we got a good plan. ... There's a lot more work to be done."
At the end of the debate, Van Huyck said, "We can do it if we stop fighting among ourselves and start building partnerships that will bring us together."
FIVE CURRENT district Supervisors are running for reelection and board members Herring, Drew Hiatt (R-Dulles) and Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge) are stepping down at the end of the year.
In the Broad Run District, Charles "Chuck" Harris (D), incumbent, is running against Lori Waters (R).
Harris, an Ashburn resident, wants to see that the county's planning documents are protected and implemented. He supports increasing community safety as it relates to transportation, improving the county's road networks and encouraging more affordable housing and economic development in the county. "We have to address that demand the market is not adequately addressing," he said.
Waters wants to focus on lowering taxes, setting fiscal priorities using a zero-based budget approach, eliminating what she calls "pet projects" from the budget and managing the consequences of growth, such as filling in missing roadway links and upgrading and building new roads. "Given the choice between funding schools and pet projects, I choose schools," she said.
The candidates for the Dulles District are Stephen "Steve" Snow of South Riding and John Murphy, Jr. of Ashburn.
Snow wants to see Loudoun improve commercial economic development and transportation, eliminate wasteful spending, lower taxes and increase the county's commercial tax base. He does not fully support the county's planning documents and opposes what he and others call "density packing" in the east, or the placing of most of the projected future growth into one area of the county.
Murphy finds economic development to be an area the county can improve, specifically in the permitting process for commercial developments. He wants to make sure the Revised Comprehensive Plan and revised zoning ordinance are implemented during the next board’s term. "The sustainability of this county would be detrimentally affected if those policies are overturned," he said.
THE POTOMAC District candidates are Bruce Tulloch (R) and Afeefa Syeed (D), both of Sterling.
Tulloch, who supports a zero-based budget, wants to see Loudoun become more business-friendly, to increase support and funding of the Sheriff’s Office, place more emphasis on alternative transportation sources, such as public-private partnerships and special tax districts, and fix the missing links in the existing roadway system. In addition, he wants to improve the county’s services for the Potomac District, particularly in the area of recreational services.
Alternatively, Syeed's primary goal will be to steer the county’s growth model in a "sustainable direction" and to establish community forums in the Potomac District to improve communication, she said. She wants to make sure infrastructure is built before the county accepts new development, the county streamlines the process for new businesses to locate in Loudoun and the amount of affordable housing is increased. Like Tulloch, she supports a zero-based budget and increasing transportation alternatives.
Eugene Delgaudio (R), incumbent, and Douglas Reimel (D), both Sterling Park residents, are running to serve the Sterling District.
Delgaudio is against high taxes and wasteful government spending and wants to put an end to the "forced growth of Sterling," as he states in his campaign literature. He wants to see improvements in the areas of traffic and public safety through public-private partnerships, renegotiated proffers and improved timing of traffic signals.
Reimel wants to see Sterling Park revitalized and integrated into a town center, the county preserve a sustainable rate of growth and property taxes kept low enough so that the cost of living remains affordable, he said. "We need to preserve what’s done in that [General] Plan as well as expand the plan to define the direction we’re heading in existing communities," he said.
THE CANDIDATES for Sugarland Run District are William Bogard (I), incumbent, and D.M. "Mick" Staton, Jr. (R).
Bogard is running to refine and implement the Revised Comprehensive Plan and revised zoning ordinance. He wants to see growth occur where the infrastructure already exists and the county create policies that will hold developers more accountable for their projects, establish mass transit in eastern Loudoun and identify and fund priority transportation projects. "We’re going to have to pay attention to the maintenance of some of our infrastructure," he said.
Staton wants to make sure the county's growth rate does not overcrowd eastern Loudoun. He has three reasons for running, which he lists as out-of-control government spending, a growth plan that divides the county and the need for improved transportation infrastructure. He wants the county to conduct a line-by-line budget review and remove any wasteful spending. "By doing this, we could lower our tax rate and fund our priorities, such as schools and public safety," he said.
The candidates for the Leesburg and western Loudoun districts are incumbent James Burton (I) and R. Ben Weber (R) for the Blue Ridge District, incumbent Sarah "Sally" Kurtz (D) and Geary Higgins (R) for the Catoctin District and Jim Clem (R) and Kelly Burk (D) for the Leesburg district.