A couple of days ago I attended the League of Women Voters forum at the Gum Spring Library, where candidates for the Board of Supervisors from the Dulles and Ashburn districts appeared to discuss issues and answer voters’ questions.
During the questions, a member of the audience asked about Dominion Power’s recent announcement of plans to install high voltage power lines along Route 50. Anjan Chimaladinne, the Democratic candidate for the Dulles District, said he was unaware of such plans until Dominion Power announced that it would install 110-foot power lines along Route 50. Chimaladinne said he was unnerved that our elected representative to the Board of Supervisors didn’t react with swift action until there was a public uproar over the Dominion plan. Supervisor Letourneau responded, “Anjan wasn’t the only one to be just as surprised about the power lines.”
However, according to publicly available documents, Dominion met with Loudoun County officials about their plan as early as August 2014. They met with Monica Filyaw, assistant to Supervisor Letourneau [SCC document, page 61, part 3 of 11, Dominion Power] and met with a variety of Loudoun County officials on numerous occasions to discuss the project, provide progress updates on the routing study and other project planning developments [SCC document, page 61, part 3 of 11, Dominion Power].
In his recent mailer to constituents Letourneau said that since he “became aware of this issue,” he has been fighting to oppose the proposal. But based on the public record and the community uproar over the Dominion announcement, he didn’t act until May of this year. This raises a question of when Letourneau actually knew about the Dominion plans? Why did he not relay this information to his constituents sooner? Were his previous statements in support of data centers the reason he didn’t communicate with us? The truth is that our community was blindsided and has belatedly spent time, money and energy opposing the power lines after the project is underway. We could have had more time to demand that Dominion address our concerns earlier in the process had we known what Letourneau knew in August 2014; but we couldn’t because of the failure of our supervisor to inform us.
This is a significant issue to us and the failure by Letourneau to alert the community of such a momentous proposal by Dominion leads us to wonder whether there are other development issues affecting our community we don’t know about. We need new leadership in the Dulles District. I urge my fellow residents to vote in favor of new leadership this fall. Too much is at stake.
About a month out from an election that will see each Loudouner cast ballots for 11 elected offices plus three more for the Soil & Water Conservation District, it’s understandable that many folks don’t know a lot about the candidates.
Two state office holders and nine county office holders will be chosen to represent our interests. Unfortunately, the challengers for the local offices have given us little to make a decision.
To many voters, that doesn’t matter. They will simply vote for the letter after the candidates name. That’s unfortunate because there’s no Republican or Democrat position on whether Metrorail should come to Loudoun or whether a baseball stadium can be privately financed or where the next hospital should be built.
Much is made of the current Board of Supervisors consisting of nine members of the same political party. Strange, given that almost all the substantive votes this board has taken have been 5-4 or 6-3. Metrorail, Evermont Trace and Tuscarora Crossing to name a few.
Yet, the non-incumbent candidates are happy to toss criticism at the current office holders without offering any solution or opinion on how they would vote.
Some of the statements coming from the non-incumbent candidates are simply baffling and call in to question whether they even understand the office they seek. One said he’d eliminate the county decal and save us $25 a year. What he hasn’t said is how he’ll make up the $800,000 a year in new money that decal enforcement brings in.
Another candidate said we should build expensive single family homes at the Metrorail station because they bring in higher property tax revenue. What he hasn’t said is how that balances out with single family homes with two school age children that cost two or three times as much in services as they bring in in revenue.
One of the chairman candidates actually suggested Scott York is in the pocket of the developers. Is he unaware that York’s entire political career has been based on downzoning the west, reducing the number of homes to be built in the county and controlling growth so we can afford the schools and services the growth brings?
Another chairman candidate has ascribed presidential candidate Donald Trump’s political views to York because businessman Donald Trump made a multimillion dollar investment in Loudoun County and then took a photo with York who gave a few thousand dollars to his campaign. Don’t we want commercial investment in Loudoun?
Even a district supervisor candidate got in on the York bashing when he said York took a three week jaunt on taxpayer dime to Asia. Sure, to help convince international businesses to locate in Loudoun to generate commercial property tax revenue to offset the real estate property tax. Isn’t that what the candidates are saying we should do?
Of course, the biggest issue is full-day kindergarten. The school budget has increased every year in real dollars during the current board term. Full-day kindergarten is not universal because people don’t want it, it’s not universal because it’s expensive. The cost to build the necessary classroom space is scores of millions of dollars plus the operating costs. All we hear from the candidates is “we need FDK now.”
After the bold statements, I’d appreciate them telling us how they plan to pay for it. Will they raise property taxes? Will they cut the Academies of Loudoun building, recreation centers and libraries from the CIP or will they ignore the debt caps and risk our AAA bond rating?
Will they rubber stamp the school board budget request or will they insist on cuts that could include summer school, athletics, advanced math courses, salary increases?
Affordable housing is also a hot topic. What is the plan to convince builders to charge less for the homes they build?
The candidates have bashed the incumbents for approving about 2,700 homes in four years. Fewer of something rarely makes it cost less. If you want affordable housing, will you increase the percentage of Affordable Dwelling Units developers are required to set aside?
Will you rezone western Loudoun to hold more homes? Those running to manage the county ought to demonstrate that they know what the job they seek entails and then offer solutions to the problems they say we have, not just give us platitudes and bromides about richest county and ethics pledges.
Apparently, state Sen. Dick Black doesn’t understand or care about one of the basic tenants of serving in the U.S. military: We take an oath to serve our country. Our military was never intended to serve as a prop to serve our individual political aspirations.
That’s what elections are all about. As a veteran, for those of us who have worn that uniform, we swore (or affirmed) from day one at the induction center to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
That uniform was never intended to make a political statement.
Mr. Black is the senator representing Virginia’s 13th District. He is currently campaigning for re-election. His political literature shows him in full uniform with medals. It sends a politically charged statement.
To regale oneself in a military uniform as a campaign statement goes against everything that uniform is intended to protect.
At age 68, I do not remember any former U.S. presidents in my lifetime who served in the military and campaigned in uniform. In fact the two world leaders who come to mind recently who have worn military uniforms to attract attention as political figures were the dictators from Iraq and Libya.
Then there is the statement at the bottom of that political advertisement in the smallest print on the address side of the page which reads: “The uniform is not an endorsement of the U.S. Army or the DoD.”
Noting the lapel insignia in his photo, I feel confident that as member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Black did his homework and determined that with this statement, he could wear anything he was “legally” entitled to wear to campaign for the Virginia Senate.
Just because “he can” doesn’t mean “he should.”
The front side of that advertisement that employs the uniform of the U.S. Army as a prop also says in bold red letters “… something is seriously wrong …” Based on his questionable use of the uniform for political gain, I believe there is something seriously wrong with the way Dick Black is conducting his campaign.
I can and do respect Dick Black for his service to our county during one of the most tumultuous times in American history. However, I personally cannot condone the actions of a politician who wears the same uniform that many of us wore during my generation to make a political, self-serving statement today.
I do not agree with most of Dick Black’s political beliefs. That’s fine and good because fighting for the protection of free speech is one part of what that uniform represents.
What isn’t fine is the way Sen. Black shies away from discussing those beliefs in his campaign literature and turns instead to what, for most of us, is a reminder of why we served – to keep our military separate and apart from American politics.
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