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Citizen of the Year: Scott York leaves his fingerprints on county’s present and future

Steering Loudoun County through unprecedented growth, Citizen York creates a legacy of stability amid change. Times-Mirror/Jon Taylor
It was in November 2014 that Scott York allowed himself to take seriously the idea of leaving public office.

He was on vacation in the beautiful parts of New Zealand, a far cry from the breakneck workload he bears as chairman of Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors, when he realized he was ready to leave public office.

"After spending two weeks last year in New Zealand in November I got back and I felt it was the time to move on and look at doing something else," York said in his office May 26.

So in January he made it official; he would not seek reelection.

York, a Republican, began his initiation into Loudoun County government and growth as a member of the planning commission in 1992.

He was elected chairman in 2000, after serving a term as the Sterling District Supervisor.

The population of the county was a little over 170,000 then, as opposed to the more than 360,000 people today.

For a county constantly in flux, the head government official was a steady presence.

In 15 years the county more than doubled; dairy farms gave way to wineries; county households have the highest median income in the country; more than 70 percent of the world's Internet travels through fiber in the ground in Loudoun; and in the next few years an extension of the Washington Metro will stretch out to Loudoun's borders.

"[York's] leadership was critical to the historic change in residential and business growth," said Tony Howard, the CEO of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. "He's done so on the board, where change is the rule."

In fact York has served with 24 different supervisors as the chairman, an average of six new members every term.

When asked about his legacy York responded, "What I would hope would be remembered or read about was the fact that I had the unique opportunity to look comprehensively at the general plan. Turned around to get the zoning lined up with the general plan."

Going into 2000, York said, members of county government had great concerns about the rural economy.

Residential development was on the rise and farms of the type that once dotted the bucolic Loudoun countryside were then becoming near impossible to sustain.

"It's not enough to change the zoning we [had to] give people the opportunity to make money off their land."

Ultimately many will remember him as a champion for slower growth in perennially one of the fastest growing counties in America.

Pretty much right off the bat this stance riled some of the supervisors in his own party.

York all along was willing to let his viewpoint go toe-to-toe with those in his own party.

In 2004, during York's second term, he had certain chairman prerogatives stripped from him for his slower growth policies.

When asked about the changing viewpoints about growth in the county York said, "I never changed. My philosophy was we need to do some growth management. We were where Fairfax was at one time."

He went on to explain that the tax rate Fairfax County's residents had to take on to provide constituent services was higher than he wanted to see for Loudoun.

So during the 2007 election cycle, York ran as an independent to "give people the opportunity to vote on whether he was right or he was wrong."

He won election and eventually, in 2012, while once again running as a Republican, a board was elected that almost unanimously aligned with him on the county's growth.

And "many of those who were pushing me out are now running around pushing the same ideals I was pushing in 2000," said York.

For the first few years he was a supervisor York had a full-time job, but believes the position has evolved enough to merit making it a full-time position.

"It has come time for the Board of Supervisors to really take a look at the position itself as a full-time position, because that's what it is," said York.

If we want the individual who is the chair of the county to focus on all that needs to be done, it really does need to be considered a full-time position.

"Many people who run and get elected are shocked by the workload," he said.

When he is asked by prospective supervisor candidates what they should expect from the job, he mostly says he wants prospective board members to understand the time commitment.

Since York was elected, the perception of Loudoun has changed

"A long time ago we were the sticks. We were way out here from D.C."

Now we have the highest median household income, 70 percent of the Internet traffic running through the county, the most wineries in the state.

So what concerns him most about leaving his post?

"Right now the three [chairman candidates] that have announced they are running have not set on the board of supervisors," said York, who also pointed out the candidates lack of attendance and participation at the county meetings.

"They haven't been here to create regional partnerships and relationships," said York. "They will be drinking from a fire hose big time."

"Hopefully those who are elected have a like mind with what the last board was trying to do," said York.


Scott York is the third Sterling resident to receive the Loudoun Times Mirror Citizen of the Year award. Congratulations Scott!

If York is citizen of the year it’s enough to make me pretend I have a visa….

“And now we have ... the most wineries in the state”

Scott, are we supposed to be proud of the fact that most of us have to pay higher taxes to fund the breaks being given out to our well-to-do neighborhood winery owners?

Having a wine bar just down the street in what is still a residential neighborhood hasn’t improved the quality of my life one bit.  Doesn’t help my property value either…

“In 2004, during York’s second term, he had certain chairman prerogatives stripped from him for his slower growth policies.”

Like running the Board meetings.  They made him sit there in silence while the Vice Chairman ran the show.  You would have thought that would have been embarrassing enough for him not to re-align with the R’s.  Guess not.

I wonder if Dale Polen Myers will run for office again.

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