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Analysis: Loudoun swinging to blue as it grows and becomes more diverse

Courtesy Image/Ellis Island Foundation
Before there was Donald J. Trump, there was Joel T. Broyhill.

A real estate developer who was elected to Congress in 1953, Broyhill brought an idealized vision of the American dream to farmland and the predominantly white, middle-class suburbs near Washington, D.C.

The vision was called Sterling Park, a planned community in Loudoun County conceived to capitalize on the post-World War II housing boom. The pre-fabricated homes included air-conditioning (uncommon at the time) and free memberships for golf, tennis and swimming pools. The cost: $17,000, about $3,000 less than a comparable home in Fairfax County. Real estate taxes were less than half of what Fairfax homeowners paid.

Broyhill even envisioned a transportation system that connected the community to Washington, about 45 minutes away. A highway was situated on the east side of the right-of-way that would become Route 28. Broyhill’s company financed and built a through-road -- today’s Sterling Boulevard. The Broyhills even envisioned a version of the Silver Line: Commuter trains were proposed on the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad tracks on the southern boundary of the development.

Except for free golf, the Broyhill vision became reality. Within a decade, 5,000 homes were sold. The development known as “The Park” became a blueprint for development that created the exurban growth in Loudoun that forever changed the character of a once rural county.

There was an inconvenient truth, however -- Sterling Park residents had to be white. And that didn’t work out the way Broyhill planned.

“He was a real estate developer elected by the middle class of northern Virginia, so he reflected a growing white middle-class throughout the South that wanted less government, lower taxes and keeping the suburbs as white as possible,” wrote Merle Black, a professor of politics at Emory University, in “The Rise of Southern Republicans.”

Growth took hold in the coming decades of Loudoun’s population surge. But the vision for Loudoun County as a planned white enclave came apart with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the steady integration of suburban society.

Fast forward to November 2017. The issues: less government, lower taxes, expansive development and white nationalism.

Sixty years after the development of Sterling Park, Loudoun now confronts a new wave of growth with familiar considerations but with demographics and leadership that reflect a more inclusive and increasingly diverse county.

A black man represents Sterling Park on the county’s Board of Supervisors. A black woman chairs the board. Four women -- all Democrats -- were elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates from Loudoun just last week, narrowing the Republican majority to the closest of margins.

Minorities now comprise nearly 44 percent of the population in Loudoun County: 19 percent are Asian, 14 percent are Hispanic and 8 percent black.

White men are losing their majority, their traditional hold on power and their exclusive role in deciding how Loudoun will grow.

Next up in the go-go development of the county: urban work-live-play enclaves -- including a tech-enhanced “smart city” -- along a growth corridor that follows the Silver Line from Washington to Dulles International Airport to two Metro stations into Ashburn. Planners are anticipating an increasingly diverse community around these population centers.

And Sterling Park? Sixty years after it was developed, it is a place where working-class families can find jobs, affordable homes, a multi-cultural lifestyle and a piece of the American dream.

But in an ironic twist of cultural politics, Joel Broyhill’s vision for white utopia was answered with a rich mix of ethnic identity that’s prominent in and around Sterling Park: One of the largest mosques in the U.S., the All Dulles Area Muslim Society on Sugarland Run, serves as a center for prayer, education and culture for the Muslim community. Politicians from both parties visit the ADAMS Center to demonstrate their support of an inclusive American society; The Mudra Arts Center on Shepard Drive provides Indian cultural enrichment through music, dance, performing arts, literature and philosophy. Nearby, Regal Countryside Cinema features movies in Hindi as well as Bollywood films; At Towncenter Plaza, Rio Cantina and Discoteca caters to young Latinos with music, salsa dancing and Latin American food.

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The number of non-whites has surged in Sterling Park since 2000, according to Census Bureau data. Countywide, the Hispanic population grew to 52,000 people from 2000 to 2006, an increase of 500 percent. Loudoun currently has the third-highest population of Hispanics in Virginia.

The community is currently at the heart of an intense debate over illegal immigration and calls to crack down on those illegal immigrants who use county services or commit crimes. The issue was a central theme in the Virginia’s governor’s race.

The governor's race was seen as the latest test of President Donald Trump’s impact on voters in suburban, affluent areas such as Loudoun County that were once the bedrock of the Republican party.

The irony of change unfolds in more complex ways just a few streets east of Sterling Park near the Potomac River. There, in the Lowes Island part of Sterling, Trump owns an elite country club and a townhome backing up to the golf course on which he frequently plays. Neighboring townhomes in Lowes Island are valued at about $1 million. The demographics are closer to Broyhill’s original vision of America: 70 percent white.

Trump’s neighbors, though, aren’t necessarily inclined to support the president, who plays fast and loose with his Sterling address -- he calls his club Trump National Golf Club, Washington D.C., though it is 26 miles from Washington -- and distorts the history of the Potomac with a tall tale about “The River of Blood” that he memorializes at Trump National.

Trump’s vision has never fully taken hold in Loudoun, where he received only 38 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential election. On Nov. 7, the numbers hit close to home: 60 percent of the voters at the Lowes Island precinct that includes Trump National voted for Democrat Ralph Northam.

The election seemed to test the power of Trump's fiery nationalism against the energy of the Trump resistance.

“Those incumbents that embraced Trumpism -- they asked for it,” said David Ramadan, a Lebanese-born businessman from South Riding who formerly served as a Republican state delegate from the 87th District. “And the ones that did not embrace Trumpism were just a victim of it just for being Republicans.”

Ramadan’s analysis was borne out in multiple exit polls conducted by news organizations: Half of Virginia voters said Trump was a reason for their vote — with twice as many saying they were voting to oppose Trump (34 percent) as to support him (17 percent). Northam won 97 percent of voters for whom opposing Trump was a factor.

The numbers were similar in Loudoun County, where 60 percent voted for Northam and where Democrats unseated incumbent Republicans in two House of Delegates races.

Minority neighborhoods were a key component for the surge for Democrats. Northam won three-quarters of the minority vote overall and more than 80 percent in African-American neighborhoods, according to the exit polls. Margins grew by 10 points in Hispanic neighborhoods. In predominantly white neighborhoods, the political divide remained about the same.

“The bigger explanation is a backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple,” explained Larry Sabato, founder and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

Trump’s shadow looms large in next year’s midterm elections, where Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10th) is seeking re-election for a seat held by Republicans since 1980.

Comstock has joined more moderate Republicans in criticizing Trump. She supported Sen. Marco Rubio in the 2016 Republican primary, and Rubio defeated Trump decisively in Virginia and Loudoun County in the primary.

Loudoun political leaders are assessing how shifting shades of politics will play amid the demographic changes of an expanding county. Each day Loudoun grows by about 31 people. That’s more than 11,000 new residents by next year’s election, a number that could provide the margin for a congressional seat and further evidence of how Loudoun's changing demographics are changing everything.

Executive Editor Dale Peskin lives in Sterling. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Why are white men singled out? Don’t women get a vote? And I bet there are a lot of white men who voted democratic. As for the governers vote in Loudoun being a comment on Trump… Hogwash. Loudoun voted blue in the presidential election. All the data suggests is trump hasn’t changed anybodys mind.

It is interesting how Loudouncommonsense asksfor conservatives highest grade/degree they have attained while not offering up their informataion.

The higher the educational level, the more an electorate skews blue.

Perhaps the conservative commentators appearing on these pages can offer contrary evidence by sharing the highest grade/degree they have attained?

More like —as the federal government grows so to does the D base in VA….unfortunately, big government breeds big liberals

Soon, the white man will become the minority and regain all its power.

Crime and diversity.

What will it take to stop using labels (other than being an American citizen) like color, previous country or area of origin, size of or lack of a bank account balance or primary language? I prefer to actually practice what a famous American said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I prefer labels like white, hispanic, Asian or black be eliminated. Either
live by exact proportions if you must (eg. 10% Congo, 15% Kuwait, 15% Italian and 60% Spain) or as I strongly prefer rely on the adjective in front of being American (generous American, employed American, Veteran American, voting American, retired American etc) When will such attempts at separating us (Americans) into boxes that should not define us stop????
Bob Ohneiser Esq.

America is partially about the opportunity to achieve and contribute back to yourself, your family, your local community and to our country.  It is not about any group of people superseding another.  Minority, majority, really who cares as long as you do your part.  This includes holding politicians of any party to their Oath of Office.  Corruption, greed and people behaving poorly happens in all countries.  South Africa included, with its violent past, apartheid, and now its current corrupt leadership is just another example.  Stand up and be the best American you can, no matter your heritage, race, religion, etc..

“Enjoy their craziness because like the Afrikaans, it is over for them.”

@Lawman:  Yes, Lawman, they are being murdered. Are you aware what is going on in South Africa? Are you happy about it? Is that what you want here?

@TrumpForever either you have a condition or you are practicing your stand-up comedy act.  Loudoun is just the tip of the iceberg for America as the population continues to change form white to Brown.  Trump is just the rear guard of the dinosaurs who don’t want to face reality.  There is an old saying that a mad dog is at its worst right before it dies, that is what you are seeing for the Alt-Right/Republican/White Conservatives, their asteroid is close.  Enjoy their craziness because like the Afrikaans, it is over for them.

Sterling Park is only affordable compared to the surrounding area.  Its still expensive and the typical SFH is in the $350-450k range.  Way too expensive for most working class families.

Why does this author assume Sterling Park was developed only for whites? I’d hate to see everything in the world with those lenses. “Joel Broyhill’s vision for white utopia”...really? Sterling’s demographics changed because Sterling houses were cheaper than next door Herndon, which had a larger range of ethnic groups, primarily Latino. Peskin reveals his biases in this analysis.

¡Nos gusta mucho vivir en este lugar!

We had 16 years of incompetence in WH(8-Bush, 8-Obama). There was a reason US citizens were fed up with status quo from both parties. Seems only ones getting rich were all the politicians. Both parties are at fault. I’m all for getting rid of all, including Supreme Court and go to 8 year max term limits across the board. The media is partly to blame for all the corruption in politics. They condone criminal actions by our politicians.

I can assure you that no Democrats living in Ashburn would ever consider living in Sterling Park. They hate even just driving through it.  They love the votes though.

Sterling Park is a place where working-class families can find jobs, affordable homes, a multi-cultural lifestyle and a piece of the American dream.

Instead of labeling people (like calling your opposition “idiots”) why don’t you propose ideas or legislation that will improve Loudoun. 

Or is it you just want to return to dominant-race rule (white) of the past.  Oops, that would be in trouble too, since the ethnic makeup of America is changing quite fast.  Soon whites will not be in the majority.

I have yet to see Trump or anyone for that matter articulate a coherent political philosophy for “fixing America.”  What we have is an assortment of reactionary and transactional stabs at a undefined campaign slogan (maga). 

As we’ve learned from the past, just appointing a conservative judiciary doesn’t necessarily improve the country nor achieve strictly conservative goals.  Cutting taxes doesn’t usually work out either; reference Kansas. 

Why not try compromise?  Seems to have worked pretty good in the past.

Crimes per square mile:

Sterling, VA = 60
Rest of Virginia = 19

Sterling most definitely has changed, but I’m not sure for the better.

Just to be certain, you are being 100% sarcastic, aren’t you?  “A ruler for the ages” really sums up Trump’s self-image.

The only way idiot liberals can get votes is to focus their attention to Sterling Park and other communities of similar in nature. This is the liberal way…keep people down economically so they always vote for social programs. Wake up people…liberals do not want to make things better for you. They will keep you down at all costs!

I don’t believe stories like this…

I’m sure most Americans had the exact same reaction I did when I heard today that President Trump was on the phone with Putin for over an hour discussing complex policy issues.  Ha!  Putin surely got his pocket picked by our President who understands these issues like no one else has ever understood them.  Historic understanding.  And I’m sure Kellyanne Conway as right there to help if it got sticky.

Don’t believe that those darn liberals are making headway.  We have a ruler for the ages and soon mostly everyone will find it hard to deny.

It is certainly correct to note that Trump’s incompetence, arrogant self-absorption and general lack of a clue or interest in uniting and leading America has accelerated the exodus from the GOP tent for many.  Probably shaving ten years off the time it would take for mere demographic change to accomplish the same thing.

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