Letourneau and Nagireddi

Matt Letourneau (R), left, and Sreedhar Nagireddi (D)

Incumbent Loudoun County Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R) is seeking re-election in the Dulles District this November against political newcomer Sreedhar Nagireddi, the Democratic nominee.

Letourneau comfortably won a second term in 2015 over Anjan Chimaladinne by claiming more than 70 percent of the vote in the southern Loudoun district.

Click here for political donation information on the race.

Here are the candidates' responses to a Times-Mirror questionnaire. 

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Matt Letourneau's responses

What would be your top three priorities if elected? 

1) Continuing the Board’s investment in transportation infrastructure. In particular, for the Dulles District, making progress on my plan for a Route 50 northern bypass connecting Tall Cedars Parkway to Route 28 at the Air and Space Parkway interchange, widening Braddock Road, widening Loudoun County Parkway between the Greenway and Ryan Road, building the next segment of Shellhorn Road, and building Arcola and Northstar Boulevards. The 50 northern bypass project would be a game changer for Dulles South commuters, but many challenges remain. I am committed to working diligently with the Airports Authority, VDOT, and my colleagues in Fairfax County to advance this project. Similarly, we have plans in place for widening Braddock on the Loudoun side, and I have been working with VDOT to spur improvements on the Fairfax side. I have also been part of favorable proffer negotiations for several of the other projects.

2) High quality development around our Metro stations. Now that the new Urban Policy Area is in place, the Board must partner with landowners on public-private partnerships to bring jobs and investment to areas around our Metro stations. When I voted to bring the Silver Line to Loudoun in 2012, it was because I understood that it was not just to provide Loudoun residents with a commuting alternative, but that it would help Loudoun become an employment destination in our own right. We’ve already attracted thousands of jobs into the Metro area, including one major federal agency, but many more opportunities exist at the Ashburn, Loudoun Gateway and Innovation Metro stations.

3) Continuing our strong financial management and internal operations: As Chairman of the Board’s Finance, Economic Development and Government Operations Committee, I spend a great deal of time working on the County’s $3.2 billion budget and capital program. The County has been a leader in Virginia in both investment and job growth. While data centers obviously have been a big part of that, we’ve also had over $2 billion in non-data center investment last year alone. One of the things I’m proudest of is the fact that we’ve grown the share of revenue from non-residential sources from 19 to 30 percent, most of which has occurred during my time on the Board. On the operations side, we are a large, increasingly complex County with a lot of diversity—in terms of people, land, needs and issues. We’ve worked hard to improve our employee compensation and will be finalizing implementation of our new classification system next year. While it may not always be top of mind for residents, it is important that the Board remain focused on the details and mechanics of government.

How are you going to balance the different viewpoints and priorities between the east and west for the overall benefit of the county?

The surroundings may be different, but a lot of issues are really the same between the east and the west. Both parts of the County are important to our future. The Board’s vision in the new Comprehensive Plan has been for a continuation of our rural policies west of Route 15, with an emphasis on smart development where infrastructure can support it in the East. I represent an Eastern district on the Board, but over the last 8 years I’ve worked on a myriad of issues in the western part of the County, including supporting our rural economy, ensuring fair regulations for Bed and Breakfasts and enacting a craft beverage ordinance. Transportation is a priority for citizens everywhere. My vote in 2012 to dedicate 2 cents of our tax rate to transportation infrastructure has the basis for a reoccurring revenue stream that benefits both the east and the west, and many of those citizens who live in the western part of the County commute to the east and will be able to take advantage of new transit and road options underway.

Do you support building another bridge from Loudoun County across the Potomac River? Explain. 

Yes. I was part of the Board majority that voted to place a connection on our Countywide Transportation Plan. One thing that gets overlooked in this discussion is how these north/south issues also impact east/west connection. Thousands of commuters travel east to the Beltway to cross into Maryland, and vice versa. An additional Potomac crossing would save countless hours of congestion, better distribute traffic, and improve the quality of life for citizens and benefit the environment. The Board has selected a pathway for a route that largely avoids impacts with existing structures.

At this point, this discussion still needs leadership in Maryland and from Richmond. While many Maryland residents and some elected officials support this discussion, there’s virtually no momentum on the Maryland side and the Hogan Administration has other priorities. Loudoun’s planning process has enabled us to be ready if and when the opportunity arises.

The 2019 Comprehensive Plan has been approved. Explain one thing you would have done differently? 

No member of the Board was in the majority on every single vote and issue during the Comprehensive Plan process. Rather than focusing on individual issues, I would say that my biggest frustration is with the first half of the process, which I think lasted too long and got off track. The Board stepped in and worked with County Administration to take corrective measures and put it on a timeline that allowed us to finish. I think the initial stakeholders group was too large and unwieldly, and there wasn’t a clear understanding of the timeline and process from everyone involved. So, at the very beginning, I would have pushed for a tighter, better defined process for public input, stakeholder involvement, and Planning Commission review.

Outgoing Vice Chairman Ralph Buona gave the Board of Supervisors a "B+" in his assessment of the current board. How would you grade the current board and why? 

In a time of extreme partisanship and government gridlock, I think this Board has functioned well and avoided a lot of the distractions and negativity. Many of the issues are not decided by partisan votes and personal relationships are friendly which needs to better collaboration and shared ideas. Individual Board members may agree or disagree with specific decisions, but I think the Board has generally struck a good balance on land use, maintained the commitment to transportation and economic development, and had smooth budget processes which have resulted in needed enhancements while keeping a reasonable tax rate. So, for those reasons I would give the Board an A-.

Explain if you agree or disagree with the board's decision to not add elementary school resource officers into the fiscal 2020 budget. 

The premise of the question isn’t accurate. The Board did add elementary school resource officers to the FY2020 budget. The Board provided funding for new SRO positions for each elementary school cluster, which ended up necessitating six additional positions at a cost of over a half million dollars in FY2020 alone. Elementary schools are much different than middle and high schools in terms of activity. There are far less issues with students—thankfully, drugs, weapons and other issues that we do sometimes see at older grades are extremely rare in elementary schools. Therefore, the needs are different. I think the Board’s actions were a good way to add more of a presence to each school community and have an officer available in every geographical area. The Board has also invested significantly in physical security at all schools, including elementary schools, including a project that I spearheaded in the Finance Committee to add a security vestibule to every school in the County.

Loudoun has grown significantly in recent decades. Should there be additional hard caps on housing? 

The County Attorney has repeatedly affirmed that a moratorium on new housing is illegal. So, that really makes the question immaterial. Virginia is a strong property rights state and there will be continue to be growth in Loudoun County. By-right development does not require the Board’s approval and, that’s been how much of the growth has occurred since I’ve been on the Board. There are disadvantages to that because it makes it much difficult to plan for growth and the County gets no proffers for development. In the new Comprehensive Plan, the Board allowed for targeted higher density in the central part of the County where infrastructure does exist in order to avoid everything being by-right. Our goal is to see the most development in the Urban Policy Area, where mixed use development including housing will support employment centers. Finally, we must address affordability through County policies and targeted development. Shutting off housing supply when there is still market demand will lead to escalating prices and exacerbate a housing shortage which already exists. Employers are increasingly having difficulty finding local employees and if we want continued retail, dining, healthcare and education options, we have to have adequate housing for those workers.

One of the major tasks for the next board will be overhauling the county's zoning ordinance. Explain one area the future board should consider revising. 

The zoning ordinance provides the detailed direction for the Comprehensive Plan. It isn’t really the place to make big changes, but it is very important. The Board signaled the areas where we expect to see changes during the Comprehensive Plan process, such as affordable housing policies, design standards and specific types of development such as the “suburban commercial” place type that I proposed and was included in the final Plan.

Loudoun has done well economically in recent years. What will be your top priority to continue economic growth? 

As I mentioned in the priority section, I think the most important thing is to spur development around our Metro areas. Our economy is strong because it is diverse. IT and data centers are obviously a major part of it, but we also have worked to develop aerospace, biomedical, federal government and contracting, and a strong rural economy. In order to maintain that diversity, we need to take the next step and attract high quality Class A office users. Those type of tenants seek to locate in dynamic, mixed use environments with access to transit which is what we can provide.

In a time filled with partisan rhetoric, please give a compliment to your opponent or opponents. 

It certainly seems like my opponent has a wonderful family. I also appreciate his interest in community and civic engagement.

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Sreedhar Nagireddi's responses 

What would be your top three priorities if elected? 

The number one issue facing Loudoun County is growth pressure. As we grow, we need to ensure that our expansion is managed well. Supervisors must work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that development is not prioritized at the expense of the surrounding infrastructure, but rather in conjunction with it. I will bring my background in civil engineering to the table and recommend that we take a moment to look to the future before we build and consider the community implications of each new project, ensuring higher sustainability. Loudoun County Public Schools need our help. We are the wealthiest county in the country, and our education system should reflect that.

I believe in fully funding our schools every year, providing adequate support for our special needs and Gifted & Talented programs, and making sure our teachers receive competitive pay and resources so they can focus on our children. Education has lost, on average, more than $30 million each year for the past three years, even though our school system is only growing. I think everyone will agree that our children are our priority, so it’s time we start making decisions more in their favor.

Transportation has been a top issue for more than a decade, and congestion is a direct result of our growth far exceeding our ability to keep pace. Loudoun's taxpayers are disproportionately burdened with paying for transportation improvements. Our debt continues to rise to accommodate this growth, and the borrowing costs negatively impact Loudoun far into the future. We must be more measured with our transportation and infrastructure investments to ensure that we have a high quality of life and can attract industries that provide quality jobs here. With the Silver Line in Loudoun, we need to build the necessary accommodations and infrastructure that will lend itself to those new stations while incentivizing telework for Loudoun businesses. Our approach to transportation must be revised so as to support the expansion of citizen-oriented complexes such as community and recreation centers, short and long-term residences, and local business venues.

How are you going to balance the different viewpoints and priorities between the east and west for the overall benefit of the county? 

Recently I was out knocking on doors in the Dulles district when I got to talking with a neighbor about his concerns as a taxpayer. He said to me that although he had friends from both sides of the divide—both political and geographic—they were all inclined to agree on many local decisions so long as one thing was provided: communication as to why. Communities in the east and the west may have certain distinct priorities, but they share much more than we give them credit for. A more transparent decision-making process and a constant flow of information from the Board to the community will allow residents across the county to better understand the benefits of each resolution and offer additional perspective where it is due.

Do you support building another bridge from Loudoun County across the Potomac River? Explain.

Yes, I do. As many are aware, Loudoun County has proposed the idea several times, and even gone so far as to endorse specific sites that would serve as prime locations for the new crossing. As our county grows, so does the level of discontentment with the current means of access to and from Washington’s metropolitan areas. And rightly so. Loudoun is the fastest growing county in Virginia, yet we’re still relying on a few roads that were designed decades ago, when the population was less than a fourth of what it is now. We owe it to our residents to fight for new alternatives to reduce the constant congestion our commuters face, and if experts believe that a second bridge crossing will help achieve that end, then we must continue pushing for that reality. While it is ultimately up to Maryland to approve any Potomac River plans, Loudoun County should maintain its commitment to the issue and be prepared to act as soon as our neighbors to the north come around.

The 2019 Comprehensive Plan has been approved. Explain one thing you would have done differently?

The 2019 Comprehensive Plan is, by nature, an umbrella guide for transportation and land use provisions to come. I commend the Board for their work in dutifully breaking down the Comprehensive Plan into two subsections, the “General Plan” and the “Countywide Transportation Plan," but I would have liked to see the zoning prospects pulled out into a separate compendium as well.

The Comprehensive Plan attempts to address the crucial issues being raised by our county’s continued growth; therefore, it would seem wise to have dedicated a much more detailed approach to how zoning will fit into and impact its various components, rather than treating it as something to be dealt with later.

Outgoing Vice Chairman Ralph Buona gave the Board of Supervisors a "B+" in his assessment of the current board. How would you grade the current board and why?

First of all, I would like to praise Chair Phyllis Randall for the incredible work she has performed for Loudoun. The Board of Supervisors under her leadership has taken on the nearly impossible task of attempting to address the ever-increasing needs of a county that is notable for its status as a unique melting pot of features and developments that are urban, rural, new, old, modern, historic, and everything in between.

However, it is evident that the relationships between the Board and some playmakers in Loudoun are no longer able to fully serve the best interest of the residents. The county has changed dramatically over the past decade, and some members of the Board still seem to be operating for the county as it was, not how it is. For this reason I would give the Board of Supervisors a “B-”, and acknowledge that the next step in advancing as a county is to elect a governing body that more thoroughly represents the its residents.

Explain if you agree or disagree with the board's decision to not add elementary school resource officers into the fiscal 2020 budget. 

Like many of my colleagues, I agree wholeheartedly with the Board’s decision not to allocate money for resource officers within our elementary schools. School resource officers are, first and foremost, trained members of the law enforcement community. Loudoun County is fortunate to have an inspiring and dedicated class of individuals serving in this role, but their time would not be well spent in elementary schools. Students that young often don’t yet understand how to properly figure out their place in the community; they need to be in an environment that nurtures education and growth, rather than legal punishment. We would be much better off investing in more counseling services for our students and allowing our law enforcement officers to operate in roles that better utilize their proficiencies.

Loudoun has grown significantly in recent decades. Should there be additional hard caps on housing? 

No. While we certainly need to address the population levels within specific zones and communities, additional hard caps are not the way to go. Instead we should consider a flexible density-based approach. Hard caps give the impression that we are afraid of new housing developments and preclude the number of units from changing with the community. By analyzing the density of the community in context with the surrounding infrastructure, we can more fairly stave off overdevelopment while still providing sustainable opportunities for housing development.

One of the major tasks for the next board will be overhauling the county's zoning ordinance. Explain one area the future board should consider revising. 

Providing affordable housing and a wide range of housing stock is critical to providing businesses a diverse workforce. Our zoning policies are a vital part of encouraging the development of affordable housing, especially in an area that is growing as rapidly as the Dulles district. Investing a half-cent of revenue to a housing trust fund would generate 8 million dollars annually. These funds would be used to incentivize developers and the private sector to build more affordable units. We should also look at innovative solutions such as removing parking minimums—which increase cost and are underutilized—building codes to encourage rehabbing older communities, and ensuring that residential development is in line with other types of growth. -Loudoun has done well economically in recent years.

What will be your top priority to continue economic growth?

A comprehensive approach to transportation—linking communities together and creating a safe and efficient multimodal network—is crucial for the future of our economy. Adequate transportation infrastructure ties into almost every other issue before the Board, and therefore should be our top priority. By providing alternatives to the old, congested roads our residents are often forced to use and incentivizing multi-person commuter travel, we will be able to build a more dynamic workforce and encourage a wider range of Northern Virginia workers to bring their families and business to Loudoun County. We have already begun this process with the promising, albeit slow, arrival of the Silver Line, but investing in even more alternative transportation options will create jobs, promote tourism, and alleviate many of the frustrations that cause our residents to consider looking elsewhere.

In a time filled with partisan rhetoric, please give a compliment to your opponent or opponents.

Supervisor Letourneau is a great man with a smart head on his shoulders. I commend him for the commitment he has shown to the projects he has taken on; it is obvious that he works hard to follow through with the priorities he lays out for his time in office. I thank him for his service to our county, and wish him only the best.

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The voter registration deadline in Loudoun County is Oct. 15. Click here for more information.

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