Tony Buffington

Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) addressed a Chairwoman Phyllis Randall-run event during Thursday’s Board of Supervisors business meeting, calling it "a political event.” Randall (D) denied the claim.

Three members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors believe an upcoming summit focused on rural issues organized by Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) is for “political purposes” and a possible “ethics violation."

Tensions about the event surfaced Thursday when Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) raised the issue during the board’s business meeting. 

“The person who is emceeing the meeting is, in fact, a declared candidate in western Loudoun to run against one of us, which I find a little interesting,” Higgins said, referring to the board's elections next year and specifically the Blue Ridge District race.

In a phone interview with the Times-Mirror, Randall denied that the event was for any political purpose and said that some Republicans may be criticizing the gathering because they are feeling frustrated after Democrats across Virginia made gains in Congress during last week's election.

“It’s been a tough week for my colleagues,” Randall said. “And, sometimes you have to put those emotions somewhere.”

She also said Board of Supervisors candidate Tia Walbridge, the emcee and a candidate for the Blue Ridge District seat in 2019, "is well qualified" to emcee the rural summit event. Walbridge is a farmer in western Loudoun County.

The purpose of the rural summit organized by Randall’s office is to discuss the challenges of and opportunities for the rural parts of the county, according to Randall.

The event will be held on Nov. 16 in Middleburg at the Salamander Resort and Spa, which is in the Blue Ridge District represented by Supervisor Tony Buffington (R).

The Blue Ridge District supervisor addressed the issue during Thursday’s business meeting and on social media.

“It does appear, unfortunately, to have become a political event,” he said at the meeting. “And I think it’s unfortunate, because we’re missing a real opportunity where we could have made progress on some of these issues in western Loudoun County.”

Higgins said neither district representative was invited to Randall’s event until they asked about it.

Randall said that the planning and scheduling for the rural event was no different than her first two summits, which were focused on faith and substance abuse. She said neither Higgins nor Buffington attended her two previous summits or questioned the events.

“My colleagues are public servants, and I’m not going to say anything negative about them,” Randall said. “They have a right to their feelings, and it is what it is.”

Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run), who was absent from the meeting because he was out of town on business, addressed the board by phone on Thursday.

“I do find it extremely troubling that it seems like we’re already becoming more partisan on the Board of Supervisors stuff more than we should be,” Meyer said. “I just think we need to keep a pledge that has been made not only on the ethics ... but to each other to try and keep the politics out of official business as much as possible, and it is troubling, like I said, to see that creep in, and I hope we can keep that out with the next election year coming up.”

Higgins pointed out that the supervisors were asked at the start of their term to sign a code of ethics conduct pledge arranged by Randall.

(6) comments

LoudounClear

Not sure I understand the logic of Supervisor Higgins and others. Is the concern that ideas might be floated by, heaven forbid, Democrats? Is this a one-party state here in Loudoun? Recent election returns suggest that's not the case. Buck up, Geary and company, we can all work together to improve Loudoun. We shouldn't care where the ideas come from, only if they're good ones.

jke

I do remember Buffington and Higgins voting for a bridge in eastern Loudoun which is against all I hold near and dear. Randall beat these two to the punch and now they whine. Makes you wonder how they got elected in the first place but the 2019 elections will take care of these two mistakes.

David Dickinson

This is obviously a political rally for Democrats on the taxpayer dime. Randall is far more partisan and less competent than she presents herself. What has she accomplished in 3 years other than meeting people and looking happy?

David Dickinson

It's time for Democrats to pretend to care about rural America.

LoudounandOut

Lord of the Flies - the cannibals are starting to devour each other. Unfortunately for the Loudoun Reds, the Blue Wave is going to be a Blue Tsunami by next November! Deservedly so!

BobOhneiserEsq

I am attending this well timed conference because I was asked to fill in for a resigning school board member who represents much of the community which is clearly rural. What I would like to hear about is as follows:
Why is VDOT not required to maintain rural roads it is responsible for at at least their own published minimum quality level?
Why are small rural lots over assessed while large urban wealthy organizations like Howard Hughes or the hospital in Ashburn exempted from paying any property taxes?
Why is Loudoun's property taxes almost three times higher than the average county in Virginia if our high density residential approvals were so efficient?
Why is nearly none of the current $4.4 Billion published future capital requirements of LCPS have any new schools, expanded schools or even land banking for future rural area schools considering how many high density residential developments are being considered by the BOS?
When will the BOS invite the federal government to intervene in the obvious commutation problems in rural areas from West Virginia and Maryland commuters?
When will the BOS appeal to the state the full freedom for rural land owners to grow whatever the land will sustain so the value of such farmland can increase and the products can help pay the property taxes?

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