Phyllis Randall

In just three minutes of remarks at the Loudoun Wine Awards Oct. 14, Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) conveyed two head-scratching sentiments.

First, the new chairwoman told the nearly 250-person crowd at Lansdowne Resrot that eastern Loudoun residents frequently approach her and say "idiotic things." She went on to assert eastern residents don't understand the economic benefits of the rural west, which features scores of wineries, breweries and farms.

??"People in the east always, always come up to me, and they say idiotic things, like, 'The west costs us so much money.' I look at them like, 'Are you out of your minds?'" the chairwoman said. "The western part of the county is our economic driver in the county."

Randall resides in Lansdowne in eastern Loudoun.

When asked about the "idiotic things" comment shortly after her address, Randall quickly expressed regret over her choice of words.??"That was a terrible thing to say. I wish I had not said that," Randall told the Times-Mirror. "What I meant was they don't understand why western Loudoun actually is the economic driver of the county."?

That - western Loudoun being "the economic driver of the county" - is the second suspect statement.

While the west is flush with wineries, breweries, farms and other rural businesses - and generates tens of millions of dollars in tourism activity - Loudoun's high-tech, government contractor-laden east is more often viewed as the economic foundation for Loudoun.

The eastern half of the county is home to offices for Orbital ATK, Verizon, AOL, Raytheon and United Airlines - all companies that employ more than 1,000 people and send millions in tax revenue to the county.

"I do think Mrs. Randall misspoke about the west being the economic driver," Loudoun County Treasurer Roger Zurn (R) told the Times-Mirror Tuesday.?

"I would just encourage you to look at the data provided by Mr. Zurn's office," Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said. "The only revenue-positive district is Broad Run. There's no need to divide the county, but that's the math."

While Zurn weighed in on the issue, examining tax revenue falls under the watch of Bob Wertz (R), the county's commissioner of the revenue. Wertz was not able to immediately provide data about eastern and western Loudoun tax revenues or economic activity.

Officials with the county's Department of Economic Development also said they do not have data that breaks down economics of east and west.

"Loudoun currently has 10,000 commercial employers and 3,000 agricultural businesses," said Lois Kirkpatrick, a spokeswoman for the Department of Economic Development. "All Loudoun businesses contribute to the strength and vitality of Loudoun's robust economy."

?There has long been a slight - some may say not-so-slight - rift between Loudoun County's suburban, high-tech east and the scenic, largely undeveloped west.

"The eastern part of the county and western part of the county are pretty different counties," Randall said at the awards dinner. "In the east you have densely packed houses and a lot of traffic. In the west " all these vistas and beauty, it's amazing."??

The chairwoman said one of her goals is to "introduce eastern Loudoun County to western Loudoun County."

"Everyone go out there and have what I call a 'countycation.' That's when you go take your vacation in the west, all the money stays in the county," the chairwoman said.

??Randall's remarks came as she was on stage to announce the Chairman's Grand Award, the top wine in the contest. That honor went to Fabbioli Cellars' 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve

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