The Connection asked candidates in contested races to respond to the following questionnaire. This week's questionnaire features responses provided by Jack Ryan who is challenging incumbent Lori Waters for the Republican nomination for the Broad Run District Supervisors' seat. The winner will face Democrat Phyllis Randall in November. The Republican Convention is slated for June 9, beginning at 9 a.m., at The Community Church in Ashburn.
What are the three biggest problems facing the Broad Run District? How would you address each one?
Jack Ryan, challenger: Transportation, development and taxes are the three most important issues in the Broad Run District and all three are closely linked.
Let's face it, while supervisors have continued to posture on the issue, transportation has gotten much worse in the last four years. I would get Broad Run on the move again through public-private partnerships and by moving forward with a realistic master plan.
I would establish a business district on Route 7 modeled after that on Route 28 to pay for additional interchanges and smooth traffic flow — as well as to do a better job of attracting business proffers to fund the construction of collector roads. We also need to stop making excuses and get traffic lights timed and where still necessary, in place.
At the same time, I would build accountability into the transportation planning process. Very little if anything has been done to implement the current master plan and every indication is that the new one will not be an improvement. I would build specific timetables and milestones into the implementation process and reduce the opportunities for political interference in that process by involving world-class transportation professionals.
A second area in which very little has been accomplished in the last four years is economic development. While right over the border, Fairfax County is attracting high-tech businesses and Class A office buildings offering high-quality management and professional jobs, Loudoun is building strip malls, warehouses, fast-food restaurants and repair shops. We need to professionalize and take the politics out of the economic development process, allowing us to bring in the world-class businesses to rebuild our declining commercial tax base.
Lori Waters, incumbent: The biggest problems are related: traffic, growth and taxes. I have supported slower growth, using all tools available for transportation and a lower tax rate. I am often the only board Republican to recognize the connection and use this smart government approach when voting. I support the county’s comprehensive plan, which calls for a suburban east, a low-density transition area and a rural west, and I will not retool it to bring in thousands more homes. On taxes, I voted against three out of four budgets because taxes were too high. All agencies must live within reasonable budgets so that the people they seek to serve can afford to live here.
Besides receiving more funding from Richmond, what can be done at the local level to improve traffic and transportation in the county? Please provide an example.
Ryan: The tax district funding the interchanges on Route 28 is a great example of what we need throughout the county. We can establish a similar public-private partnership on Route 7 to build needed interchanges and do a much better job in leveraging proffers to deal with choke points and fund necessary collector roads. Our current Broad Run supervisor, for example, left a proffer on the table for an interchange at Route 7 and Belmont Ridge Road.
Waters: I support using all tools for transportation: lobbying Richmond, forcing developers to pay, local funds, public-private partnerships, and telework. With 63 percent voting yes, Broad Run voters approved the initiative I sponsored that put construction of the Route 7/Loudoun County Parkway interchange on the ballot. I have extracted significant road improvements out of developers, including the Route 7/Ashburn Village Boulevard interchange and the extension of Gloucester Parkway. By using every tool available, the county is in a better position to deliver improvements and not forced to approve every developer proposal.
How do you define smart growth and provide an example of a project, real or hypothetical, which you believes illustrates smart growth?
Ryan: Smart growth involves smart planning and smart people. Loudoun County needs a more far-sighted, professional approach to planning that is based on expert analysis and transparent, consistent standards rather than the ever-changing whims of supervisors.
Loudoun's confusing tangle of zoning categories mean that nearly every project needs to be brought before the board, with supervisors subject to influence-peddling from both sides as the only way to get anything done. This process, along with poor planning and inconsistent approaches, have resulted in a transportation crisis, unequal sharing of the burdens of development and a dramatic drop in the commercial tax base.
In my view, smart growth is not about any particular project, but about professionalizing the process as a whole. Development decisions need to be driven by a long-term analysis and plans drawn up by world-class professionals, not made by politicians whose meddling stands in the way of solutions to critical problems.
Waters: Smart growth means having a mix of uses — office, retail, residential and civic — integrated into one community and designed in a pedestrian-friendly way. With the opening of the Lansdowne Town Center, this neighborhood has amenities within walking distance. One Loudoun will also qualify.
How would you meet the rising needs of county departments, schools and citizens? Please provide an example.
Ryan: The key is to make sure that resources are used in the most efficient and effective way possible. I believe we need a far-reaching restructuring of county government that examines every single program to ensure that it is delivering value for taxpayers. And we need to operate specific programs more efficiently. For example, the county could work with the school system to reduce duplication and find efficiencies in areas ranging from human resources to information technology to transportation.
Waters: I have worked to stop the exponential growth of government, identify programmatic efficiencies to reduce costs and distinguish between true "needs" vs. "wants." Slowing growth will also give us time to catch-up in service delivery.
What is the key difference between you and your opponent?
Ryan: At this point I believe that our differences have been well outlined, so I would prefer to focus on the positive platform I am bringing to this race. Specifically, my platform has always been about bringing a smarter, more professional, more responsive approach to county government — one that is focused on the needs of the people of the Broad Run District and that brings best practices and the best people to the fore in resolving their problems.
But my most important commitment is to be there for the people of my district. That's why I have gone group-to-group, person-to-person to listen to their concerns during this campaign. My mission is to be in their neighborhoods and in their homes to find out what's important to them and get the job done in a professional way. I intend to be one of the most accessible, accountable and responsive supervisors ever when I am elected and to bring Broad Run leadership with results.
Waters: I have experience handling complex land use, transportation, budget, economic development and community issues. I have voted for Broad Run’s interests, not those of local power players. I offer experienced leadership and a record voters can trust.