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Transportation Mailer Divides Supervisor Candidates At Forum

© Leesburg Today - 09/29/2015

A Loudoun government transportation bulletin scheduled to be mailed to all county households next month continued to be a source of controversy Monday night, this time at an election forum for candidates for two Board of Supervisors districts.

The mailer, which has been denounced by Democratic supervisor hopefuls, was one of the main points of divide at the event for the Ashburn and Dulles districts held by the League of Women Voters of Loudoun County.

Democrats Mike Turner and Anjan Chimaladinne described the publication as a campaign piece, while their opponents said it's merely a tool to inform residents about more than 30 road and transit projects.

Turner, who is challenging incumbent Republican Ralph M. Buona in the Ashburn District, said that transportation is a political issue in Loudoun, so sending out a mailing about that subject in the month before an election makes for a political act.

To bolster his point, he referred to a move by Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling) on Sept. 16 to reconsider approval of the mailing.

""I think it's appallingly bad that this board had to get schooled by Eugene Delgaudio on ethics at the last board meeting,"" Turner said, alluding to an effort last year to remove Delgaudio from office over alleged ethical violations.

And Chimaladinne, who is challenging incumbent Republican Matthew F. Letourneau in the Dulles District, said the mailing, for which the supervisors approved up to $60,000, is an example of the current board ""abusing taxpayers' money.""

However, Buona pointed out that that the publication was an idea generated by government staff, not politicians.

""The mailer doesn't have one reference to the Board of Supervisors,"" he said at the forum at Gum Spring Library. ""The mailer doesn't have one reference to any single supervisor.""

And Letourneau described it as a method of communicating with Loudoun residents. A public relations professional, he said he's tried to ensure that he always communicates well with constituents.

He said he's confident that when residents see the finished product, they're not going to view it as campaign literature; they're going to see details about infrastructure work.

""What it does is it tells them what to expect over the coming years,"" Letourneau said.

Another contrast came on a question about land around the planned Metrorail stations near the Rt. 772 and Rt. 606 interchanges on the Dulles Greenway.

Buona said that the stop at Ashburn station at Rt. 772 should be surrounded by a ""mix of commercial, office, retail and high-density residential, just like you would see at the Courthouse Metro stop down in Arlington.""

However, he said that there shouldn't be homes near the Loudoun Gateway station at Rt. 606. The notion is that it will be too close to Dulles Airport, and if residents lived there, they would complain about noise.

Better ideas for that area would be event venues, Buona said, such as a convention center and/or a sports stadium.

Turner, though, said that it is possible to put some residences near the Loudoun Gateway station while safeguarding other areas against Dulles noise concerns.

On another topic, the candidates all said they supported Loudoun's school system expanding its full-day kindergarten program countywide, though they differed on related details. The locality is one of only three in Virginia that doesn't offer full-day kindergarten at all of its elementary schools, and the matter has become a campaign issue this year in races for county offices and for spots in the General Assembly.

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