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Chairman Candidates Tout Leadership Skills During Chamber Forum

© Leesburg Today - 10/23/2015

The four candidates vying to serve as Loudoun County chairman for the next four years made their pitch to business leaders Thursday morning.

Each used the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce debate at National Conference Center to highlight some specific goals, but, more importantly, to explain why he or she was the best candidate to lead the community forward. Coming just 12 days before the Nov. 3 election, the event was among the final campaign forums in which they'll share the stage.

On the ballot are incumbent Scott K. York, running as an independent after initially saying he would not seek a fifth term; Republican Charles King; Democrat Phyllis Randall; and independent Tom Bellanca. They answered questions on topics ranging from how to provide more affordable housing to whether a western access road to Dulles Airport is needed.

The theme featured in Randall's responses was that she believes she could do a better job than York and the current all-Republican Board of Supervisors. That includes having a better relationship with the School Board-""don't talk down to them"" or make passive-aggressive criticisms, she said-and creating a new vision for Loudoun's development over the next 50 years. She wrapped up her comments by citing the way York described the retirement of longtime Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Edgar Hatrick in 2014: He stated that change was good and that sometimes change has to start at the top. ""I will build a better Loudoun County,"" Randall said.

King characterized York as a flip-flopper-such as running for re-election after announcing he wouldn't and opposing the creation of a police force during this campaign after supporting it in the past-and as a poor leader who was ""asleep at the switch"" on many issues. During his remarks, King suggested a transferable development rights program could help increase affordable housing and advocated the county's establishment of overseas business recruitment offices. He promised to bring high character and consistency to the county's leadership.

Bellanca, who ran for the seat as a Democrat four years ago, said simple changes could have a dramatic positive impact on Loudoun. He advocates changing the county's form of government to a charter system that provide more flexibility in the types of service it offers, including the possibility of creating a police force. ""It's time to move forward, and that's what I would do.""

York urged the business leaders to stay the course with him at the helm. ""There is still work to be done,"" he said, adding that he wants to ""continue the success story.""

Asked by moderator Mindy Williams Carlin at the end of the debate to summarize their campaigns in a single word the candidates responded with:

Randall: ""Better.""

King: ""Integrity.""

Bellanca: ""Honest.""

York: ""Success.""

Candidates for local and state offices shared their views on specific business issues in response to a questionnaire as part of the Chamber's BizVotes initiative. You can read the responses here.

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