Chairman York stays the course
Throughout the half-hour conversation, the four-term chairman highlighted progress the current board, consisting entirely of Republicans, has made in the areas of transportation, streamlining local government and bolstering the county's economic development efforts.
“We, right now, I think, finally have the Department of Economic Development with the best team we've ever had from the top to the bottom,” York said. “We are still attracting data centers in here, that's helping with the expansion of our commercial tax base.”
Growing Loudoun's commercial tax base has been an ubiquitous initiative and talking point of the current board. The end game, supervisors say, is to draw big-industry tax revenue and, consequently, limit the tax burden on local homeowners.
“The attitude we hear from the commercial industry is so much different than where we were three years ago,” York said, noting expedience in the granting of permits and site-plan approvals. “It's just been amazing.”
Continuing with what he views as successes, or at least steps in the right direction, York said some of the most essential congestion-relief transportation projects – improvements along Route 606, Gloucester Parkway and Waxpool Road – are making headway.
York's board's hard-line approach to low taxes sparked outrage in recent months as supervisors deliberated on how much funding to allocate to Loudoun County Public Schools. While the board opted not to fully fund the LCPS budget, it did increase local funding by tens of millions dollars year-over-year.
York defended the decision to leave a funding gap between the LCPS budget and the county's allocation, saying this year's nearly $70 million increase from last year is likely the largest increase in county history.
The chairman criticized school officials and advocates for their lobbying techniques, which he called “emotional blackmail” earlier this year.
“[LCPS management] is out there sending 6,000 pink slips to teachers and telling people they're going to cut this and do this and close the small schools … they have got plenty of money to keep current programming and open up the schools that they have coming on line and still give a 3 percent raise. This is freaking ridiculous,” York said.
York did not shy away from condemning his colleague Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who has been the subject of a special grand jury investigation and is currently fighting off a recall petition signed by hundreds of his constituents.
Delgaudio was not indicted by the special grand jury looking into whether he misused public assets, but the case and other inflammatory comments from Delgaudio are frequently reported on in traditional and social media.
“I'm just more disappointed in the conduct of one member that put us in the situation of having the community more reflective on his actions as opposed to the good work I think this board has done,” York said.
When asked what he enjoys in his free time – weekends, for instance – York half-jokingly said, “You're assuming I have weekends?”
“I'm involved in a lot of church work. So that really consumes most of my time,” York went on to note.
Charitable giving and community involvement is what York seems to most cherish, York's aide Robin Bartok chimed in to say.
Bartok reflected on a project in which York helped raise money for an initiative at local Discovery Elementary School.
“When we left, he called me and goes, 'That was so much fun. I just wish every day could be like that,'” Bartok said.