Randall: State of Loudoun County strong, but challenges remain
“Loudoun, I can say with confidence that the state of our county is strong,” Randall told an audience filled with local and state officials. “We are strong and we are well-positioned for the opportunities and the challenges of our future.”
The “State of the County” was not only the first-of-its-kind for the chairwoman, but also the first-of-its-kind, free speech given by a Loudoun County Board of Supervisor chair.
During her campaign, Randall criticized former Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Scott York, who served as both a Republican and independent, for only giving paid-ticketed “State of the County” speeches at the chamber of commerce.
Randall pledged to give free and consistent updates on the state of the county – and on items beyond simply the economy.
In moving the board forward with developing its comprehensive plan – essentially the county's development road map – Randall explained that the board would need to walk the fine line between preserving rural Loudoun and maintaining necessary growth.
“It is vitally important that a new Comprehensive Plan is developed to ensure economic growth opportunities, housing diversity, and revenue-generating, mixed-use communities that attract young people to move to Loudoun and retirees to remain in Loudoun,” Randall said. “In addition, we need to put in place policies that protect our rural west from over development or commercial encroachment."
The chairwoman also stressed the importance of growing and diversifying Loudoun's business and people, but admitted that the county still had many challenges it needed to overcome.
“There is no doubt Loudoun is a county that is thriving – making its mark on the national, and even international, stage,” Randall said. “However, it is equally clear that the success story that is Loudoun is not enjoyed or felt by all of Loudoun’s residents. In Loudoun, we have not just pockets, but entire communities of people who don't feel heard, seen, or valued.”
Randall, a mental therapist by profession who quit her job to serve as a full-time chairwoman, said the county still needs to address the issue of recruiting and retaining qualified mental health professionals, workers Loudoun is often losing due to competition with other jurisdictions, the private sector and for compensation.
The chairwoman also stressed that the county needed to do a better job at funding its local nonprofits, a sector she said has been “sorely underfunded.”
Randall noted the county's firefighters were also being paid less than their counterparts in Washington, D.C. And, as a result, the county is losing many of its first-responders.
Looking ahead, Randall highlighted the addition of Metrorail into Loudoun – a project set to be complete by 2019 or 2020 – and said that it would provide the county with a wealth of opportunity.
“We can only build on these success stories to make us stronger,” Randall said. “We are well positioned for a bright and strong future. The arrival of Metrorail in Loudoun, for example, will connect us to the region in a new way and provide us with many new opportunities.”
On Nov. 3, Randall defeated in a three-way race York 24,613 to 19,891, whose reign on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors spanned over two decades.
Randall's victory made her the first African-American woman to be elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, a victory that surprised many local political observers. Randall's victory also made her the first new chairperson in the 21st century.
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