UPDATED - Finally, it’s a race: Democrat Bellanca to bid for chairman against York
After months of having the race for chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to himself, it looks like incumbent Scott York will face at least one Democrat in the November election.
On Feb. 22, Aldie businessman Tom Bellanca told the Times-Mirror he will announce his campaign for board chairman in the next two weeks.
“I am definitely planning on running,” Bellanca said in a phone interview. “We have filtered through what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it. I have a campaign manager set up. We’re just about ready to take some pretty strong action and take this forward.”
Bellanca indicated that he is in the “pre-organizing stage” of a campaign, and is rapidly making necessary preparations for setting up a campaign operation. He said he will formally file papers of candidacy soon.
“I am in this to win it,” Bellanca said. “I see there’s a need out there for better government, and I think I can provide that, and that’s really the bottom line. I’d do a better job of addressing the problems … I think I can get results to make things happen.”
Bellanca is the principal broker and owner of Dulles Corridor Real Estate, a business he has owned since 1999, according to his LinkedIn page. His firm’s website states that it provides residential and commercial services, including property management, leasing, sales, finance, construction contracting, and office, retail and industrial real estate services.
No stranger to local politics, Bellanca ran for the U.S. Congress seat formerly occupied by Tom Davis in 2000, but narrowly lost an intra-party caucus to be the Democratic nominee.
He has also been involved in state and federal Democratic campaigns, including the Terry MacAuliffe campaign for governor in 2009, Bill Bradley’s primary campaign for president in 2000, and the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008.
In addition, Bellanca has been involved as an officer of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, serving as its former Dulles District chair several years ago. He contributed campaign funds to the committee and to ActBlue Virginia, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state.
At present, Bellanca appears to be the only major party candidate to announce his intentions of candidacy for the chairman’s race aside from incumbent York, who reaffirmed his intention to run Feb. 21.
To get into a head-to-head contest with York, and perhaps a Republican candidate as well, Bellanca will need to secure the nomination of his party in a few months, whether it’s a Democratic party caucus or primary.
“I am prepared to have a primary if there is one,” Bellanca said. “That will be my focus for the next few months. Redistricting will affect what the date is for that.”
However, Mike Turner, who chairs the LCDC, said Feb. 22 that his goal is “to resolve any primary issues earlier rather than later … We see no value in hard-fought primaries” for chairman or the other eight district seats on the board.
Loudoun Republicans – while still without a declared candidate for chairman – are upbeat about fielding someone to run against York and the Democrat in November.
“We have several individuals who are looking at the race and considering it, and I expect we’ll have a strong candidate for that position,” Mark Sell, chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, said Feb. 21.
Pressed for more information about potential GOP candidates and timing, Sell would only say, “It’s not for me to announce anybody. That’s their job to announce when they’re ready … I expect it will not be too much longer before we have some announcements.”
In his interview with the Times-Mirror, Bellanca outlined a preliminary campaign agenda that he will focus on in the coming months.
His core policy issues include economic development, education, and “quality of life issues affecting Loudoun residents,” such as transportation infrastructure and funding.
Bellanca bemoaned what he called “10 years of high-vacancy rates in the Route 28 corridor,” and pressed for action in this area to expand economic opportunities that would in turn yield increased revenue for the county. “A strong case can be made for the economic development corridor of Route 28.”
In turn, Bellanca believes his position on economic development provides solutions for schools and education funding, another core focus.
“Right now the biggest problem is revenue for schools, and one of the best ways for this to be addressed is to get property values raised in the Route 28 corridor,” he said. “The rapidly growing school population needs to be addressed and there have to be results-oriented solutions to those problems.”
The Aldie businessman also plans to target transportation issues – including costs and funding for the Metro to Dulles rail project. He took aim at major components of the recently adopted Countywide Transportation Plan.
“I don’t support dumping more traffic onto already congested Loudoun roads,” he said, referencing portions of the plan that call for development of some roads in southern Loudoun that link to Prince William County.
“We can do a better job of focusing on transportation improvements, specifically the arterial roads leading to Route 28,” he said, citing Routes 7, 606, 50 and Waxpool Road.
After more than a decade of contentious debate over growth issues, as well as political controversy over ties between developers and elected officials on the board, Bellanca was asked if he was concerned about having his background in real estate and property management and commercial transactions become an issue in the campaign.
“That’s not a concern for me,” he said. “I believe that my background in commercial real estate will actually be the greatest attribute to getting things turned around in the Route 28 corridor. But there are no conflicts of interests created by what I do.”
A resident of Northern Virginia since 1993, Bellanca was born at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland to a father in the armed forces, which resulted in many family moves in his youth. Past residences include Europe, Virginia Beach, Pennsylvania and Reston.
Bellanca is married and has a 2-year old daughter, Elle. His wife works for Allegis Group Services.