In the only upset of the day, Sheriff Steve Simpson conceded to former deputy Greg Ahlemann at the end of the Loudoun County Republican Committee’s convention at The Community Church in Ashburn, Saturday, June 9.
The sheriff, who has held the office for 12 years, and has been with the department for 20, said he will run as an Independent this November.
"I just don’t think the outcome is a true representation of the majority of Loudoun," Simpson said. "I still have the same Republican values I’ve always had."
AHLEMANN, WHOSE SUPPORTERS came out wearing T-shirts and waving cardboard signs with his name across them, said he tried to keep the campaign quiet for the most part. When Ahlemann took the stage Saturday afternoon, his cheering section yipped and yelled until he began his speech.
"I was encouraged today by the number of people who wanted to wear my stickers," he said.
Ahlemann attributed his win to the number of delegates who came out in support of his stance on Immigration Customs Enforcement training for deputies, from across the county.
From the start of his campaign, Ahlemann said he wanted Immigration Customs Enforcement training for all of his officers. The former Sheriff’s Office deputy quit his job to run for the position because the department "has become entrenched in politics," he said.
Ahlemann criticized Simpson for a press release he sent out during his campaign applauding 10 deputies for cleaning up a park in Round Hill.
"I believe there’s a park that needs to be cleaned up in Loudoun County and that’s Sterling Park," Ahlemann said. "That neighborhood is going to pot. I will clean up Sterling Park."
WHEN SIMPSON stepped up to the podium, he was booed by a handful of Ahlemann supporters.
"It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it," Simpson said.
Aside from the Immigration Customs Enforcement issue, Simpson talked about his dealings with gangs through out the county.
"I take a backseat to no one on this issue," he said.
In his speech, the sheriff said that 48 illegal immigrants were deported from the county last year.
"Yay!" someone shouted from the audience.
"I wish him luck and thank him for his 12 years of service," Ahlemann said. "I appreciate his demeanor, his professionalism."
After the results, Ahlemann said he was going directly to bed.
"It’s been a long day," he said. "I couldn’t be any happier."
Simpson said people he worked with for years snubbed him at the convention and he and his wife were verbally attacked by Ahlemann’s camp.
"I’m the candidate, I’ve got to deal with that stuff, but not my wife," he said. "She doesn’t have to take that. I feel like the party let me down."
SATURDAY’S CONVENTION was peppered with exciting moments, loud cheers, close races and stifling heat. Before the convention began and following the candidate speeches, sounds of Ronald Reagan’s most famous addresses could be heard throughout the church.
"Anyone who says the Republican Party is dead isn’t here today," Clerk of the Circuit Court Gary Clemens said.
One thousand eighty-six delegates arrived at The Community Church to show their support for the Republican candidates. Long voting lines, however, caused some to leave without casting their votes. There is no indication how many Republicans actually voted in Saturday’s convention, since the results are sealed immediately following.
During the candidates’ speeches, many of the delegates carried noisemakers, clappers and whistles to show their support. Others were covered head to toe in colored stickers. Many delegates did not try to hide their dislike for the opposition candidates.
When candidate George Hidy took the stage he was greeted with boos and a shout of "Go to Russia." Supporters from both Lori Waters and Jack Ryan’s camps kept the sound level in auditorium up, even shouting their support for each candidate during the opposition’s speeches.
MANY OF the delegates who came out to take part in the convention, came out over quality-of-life issues.
"We need action-oriented people in charge," Leesburg resident Michael Ricciardelli said.
"This is a different county than it was 15 years ago," Robert W. Patterson of Leesburg, said.
Ricciardelli said he wanted to see the county shift to laying the groundwork and infrastructure before building neighborhoods.
"The biggest thing in transportation," he said. "The current board is ineffective at getting the state of Virginia to build roads ahead of houses."
For Delgaudio supporter Forrest B. Snyder, a 25-year resident of Sterling Park, the way in which his neighborhood has deteriorated has him worried.
"I see two or more families buying a house and moving all of their family members in," he said. "I have a neighbor with what looks like an auto-repair business in his home and another that is running a lawn-care service."
Snyder said it was important for him to come out to his first convention in order to meet with the candidates in person.
"It is always better to see someone face-to-face and listen to what they have to say," he said. "In this country you always want to look a person in the eye and filter what they are saying through what you believe is right."