It happens every four years. Loudoun selects candidates for the Board of Supervisors, School Board, Constitutional Officers and members of the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia. Despite the attention next year’s U.S. Senate and presidential races will receive, for Loudoun this is the big one.
The past four years have seen public controversies over water protection measures and construction of a second hospital, arguments over school funding and economic development, cuts across departments because of falling property values and an increase in the tax rate. Whoever is elected Nov. 8 is likely to be tested in ways we can’t even imagine yet.
While we have no desire to supersede a voter’s self-education with our take on the respective races, the Times-Mirror has a history of taking careful stock of our elected officials and providing our recommendations to voters. Here are our endorsements.
Board of Supervisors
For Chairman, we endorse incumbent Republican candidate Scott York. While we have been concerned with York’s changing allegiances and party switch, there can be no doubt that York has been an able steward for Loudoun County and a superb representative for our community. His Democratic opponent Tom Bellanca has a good business background, but cannot compete with York’s 20 years of service to the county. A proven leader, York understands Loudoun and is dedicated to making it better.
Similarly, we support Suzanne Volpe (R) in the Algonkian District. She is willing to do the work, and she has proved it during her tenure on the Planning Commission, the Cascades Community Association and through her significant board and volunteer experience. She is never short of an opinion, but chances are she’s done the research to back it up. Her opponent Democrat Denise Moore Pierce has been hampered by a late start to her campaign and has not been able to catch up on all the issues facing Loudoun and the new Algonkian region.
For Ashburn, there are two candidates with very different assets that would be brought to the office. If there has been a deficit on the current board, it has been a lukewarm relationship with the business community. For that reason, we favor Republican Ralph Buona’s executive-level experience and sharp focus on growth and pro-business issues. Planning Commissioner Valdis Ronis (D) would bring knowledge of Loudoun planning and zoning and strong connection with the Ashburn HOAs. His intellectual approach would certainly make an acceptable alternative.
Blue Ridge proved to be a difficult selection. In endorsing independent Jim Burton, we recognize his long tenure on the Board of Supervisors and his deep understanding of county finances and the needs of the rural economy. However, we remain troubled by his distrust toward the business community and his tendency to remain deaf to opposing views. Even so, Burton is a gentleman of high integrity and he maintains a discerning nature that is likely necessary in the coming years. Republican Janet Clarke’s open and friendly nature would be a welcome change in the district. Experienced in town government and a friend to business, Clarke remains a dedicated Loudoun advocate and strong alternative.
The Broad Run District is poised for the largest amount of growth in the next four years with several developments in the planning stages. Incumbent supervisor Andrea McGimsey (D) was redistricted into this new area and may have trouble connecting with a new electorate. However, we find ourselves unable to part with McGimsey’s regular reminders on environmental and traffic impact from planned developments. With the Board of Supervisors likely moving to a Republican majority, maintaining an environmental voice gains importance. Her opponent Shawn Williams (R) is a strong alternative and may be closer to the Ashburn community through his work there. A contract attorney with a moderate viewpoint and an ability to build bridges and coalitions between the board and other organizations, Williams is an extremely strong alternative to McGimsey and would be a benefit to Loudoun from an economic development perspective. Independent Cliff Kierce, a member of the Planning Commission, has also shown a detailed understanding of the growth needs of the district, but he seems less likely to be able to build a coalition of votes than his opponents.
In Catoctin, Malcolm Baldwin (D) brings experience in environmentalism and a firsthand knowledge of the rural economy. Representative of the Catoctin District, Baldwin receives our endorsement at least partly because of his moderate views. Republican Geary Higgins brings a strong understanding of education from his tenure on the school board and pro-business mentality, but we feel that Baldwin’s background and easygoing style may be a better fit for this race.
Republican Matt Letourneau has impressed us with his insight on issues specific to the Dulles District, particularly the incomplete road network. He receives our endorsement. Employed with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he is able to speak to large companies on their level as well. Democrat Larry Roeder has significant life experience, but his campaign has hinged on his desire to work full-time. While laudable, Loudoun has not agreed that this is necessary and Roeder’s response to issues in Loudoun requires additional focus.
Kelly Burk (D) wins our endorsement in Leesburg. Finishing her first term on the board, Burk has distinguished herself as a moderating influence, finding middle ground on taxes and economic development issues in addition to kitchen table issues like transportation, support for seniors and towing oversight. Burk’s experience with the Leesburg Town Council and as a teacher also allow her to understand related issues that come before the board. Her opponent Ken Reid (R) of the Leesburg Town Council has a strong resume of accomplishments from his tenure on council, but leaves us questionable about his ability to transition to a countywide office and work cooperatively with members of the opposing party.
For Sterling, we support Eugene Delgaudio (R). His view on social issues is unsettlingly conservative and his antics distracting, but a deeper look demonstrates a public official who works tirelessly for the people of Sterling. We would be lying if we didn’t admit that a moderation of the antics in “The Eugene Show” would be welcome. However, no one works harder for their district than Delgaudio, whose strong constituent service and unabashed push for additional resources have improved life in the Sterling District. His opponent Al Nevarez (D) is a promising newcomer, but is unlikely to produce the same results. Likewise, independent candidate Ali Shahriari has good intentions, but needs to build a stronger handle on the issues.
These endorsements were decided on by the editorial board of the Loudoun Times-Mirror after countless hours of race coverage and review of the candidates’ positions. As with any election, we encourage readers to educate themselves on the candidates and make the choices which best fits their own views and priorities. The Loudoun Times-Mirror Voters’ Guide is available for this purpose at Loudountimes.com.