Article VII Section 5 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia establishes that each local government must be governed by an elective body. In Loudoun County, this body takes the form of a Board of Supervisors, which has responsibility for all local legislation, budgeting, and appointments. It operates under the authorities and limits set forth by the Virginia General Assembly.
The board is composed of nine members, all of whom serve concurrent four-year terms on the same election schedule as the Virginia Senate. The chairman is elected in a county-wide at-large race, and the remaining eight members are elected by voters from each of the eight named county districts. Currently, the Republican Party holds a majority of six seats, and the Democratic Party holds three seats.
The Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is the leader of the board and the highest local elected official.
Incumbent: Phyllis Randall (D)
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Phyllis Randall (D) is nearing the end of her first term and stands for reelection. Before her election she worked as a mental health therapist. She was elected to the board with only about thirty-eight percent of the vote in an unusual three-way race that featured both a Republican candidate and the incumbent Republican chairman running as an independent, each of which garnered about thirty percent of the vote.
Randall’s leadership on the board has been reasonably inoffensive on the substantive issues, but she—especially early on—spent far too much time advocating for polarizing ‘identity politics’ issues. But when she stays focused on the issues that matter to Loudoun County, she has generally done a good job. And her position is somewhat unusual; she is a Democrat who has been asked to lead a board with a two-thirds Republican majority.
Tax rates have gone down in each year of her tenure. The board continues to cope as well as could be expected with the challenges of being one of the fastest growing counties in America. We can expect that Randall will continue to govern as she has over the last four years, although she has offered no clear vision for what she plans to do over the next four.
It is also worth noting that Randall supported a badly misguided bill in the Virginia General Assembly that would have basically served as a kick-back to the owners of the Dulles Greenway . . . and was the lone dissenting vote on the board when it condemned the plan.
John Whitbeck Jr. (R)
John Whitbeck Jr. (R) stands as the Republican Party nominee for Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Whitbeck is an owner of a small business, mental health attorney, and former adjunct professor at George Mason University. If elected, Whitbeck promises to focus on transportation, education and education safety, mental health issues, lower taxes, supporting local businesses, and a “balanced housing vision.”
On transportation, he promises to fight against price gouging tolls on the Dulles Greenway, build alternatives to the Greenway and U.S. 50, and update existing infrastructure. This is largely in-line with the efforts being made by other members of the board.
In the other areas, his proposals are more of a mixed bag. He proposes expanding the School Resource Officer program and reducing crowding in schools but does not explain how these efforts might be funded or how he expects to exert control over the schools, which are run by a separate and independent school board. And he says that he will refuse the pay raise that the Board of Supervisors recently approved for itself, even though that raise was reasonably justified by length of time since the last increase and the drastic changes in the county (and the role of the board) over that time.
And Whitbeck’s “balanced housing vision” includes a promise for a “0% net loss of farmland,” which seems to indicate the he doesn’t understand how property rights work or the role the Board of Supervisors ought to play as the county develops. It’s not up to the board to decide how much farmland there is in Loudoun County; that’s up to the people who own the land.
Robert “Bob” Ohneiser (I)
Former Loudoun County School Board Member Robert “Bob” Ohneiser (I) stands as an independent candidate for Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Ohneiser served on the school board representing the Broad Run District, and unsuccessfully sought an at-large seat on the board in 2011. In 2015 he unsuccessfully sought election as Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney. He stood in that election as the Democratic Party nominee.
Ohneiser promises to push the property tax rates down and address traffic problems on some of our major thoroughfares. He offers little detail. The main thrust of his campaign appears to be his independence from the political parties and the local developers.
This is a curious race. It lacks the bizarre rancor and party infighting and controversy that swirled around it four years ago . . . indeed it suffers from exactly the opposite problem. None of the candidates have given us much of a strong reason to vote either for them or against them. None are especially offensive, but none are especially impressive either.
Randall’s mixed record—and especially her support for the misguided Greenway bill—suggests that we may want to choose another path. Whitbeck seems much more clearheaded about the Greenway and other transportation issues but demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the human right to property. Ohneiser, for his part, offers little in the way of detail about any issue at all.
I reluctantly conclude that I can make no endorsement.
Loudoun County’s Dulles District is in southeast Loudoun, bordering Fairfax County. It includes South Riding, as well as parts of Broadlands, Stone Springs, and Washington Dulles International Airport.
Incumbent: Matt Letourneau (R)
Loudoun County Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) is nearing the end of his second term and stands for reelection.
Letourneau is the Managing Director of Communications for the Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Earlier in his career he has served as a White House intern, U.S. Senate aide, press secretary for former Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), and Republican Communications Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
I continue to be impressed by Letourneau’s approach to public service. He is a prudent, effective, and nonpartisan advocate for the interests of the Dulles District. He makes an obvious effort to weigh the issues involved and come to a serious, considered decision on every one of his votes. He is not afraid to be in the minority. He is not afraid to buck the ‘party line’ when he thinks it’s the right thing to do.
Perhaps most impressive of all is how Letourneau takes the time to explain each of those votes to his constituents in his regular newsletters and announcements, and how responsive he is to his constituents. I have reached out to him several times, and he always responds quickly and thoughtfully . . . even on those rare occasions when I have disagreed with and criticized his decisions.
Letourneau has been a tireless advocate for fiscal responsibility, for reasonable investments in transportation and education, and for economic development.
My one area of concern is that Letourneau and much of the board is, in my humble opinion, too inclined toward unduly restricting property rights. I am more libertarian (small-l) than Letourneau. I think people and businesses should be allowed to do whatever they want with the property they own, and the county should just do its best to keep pace (by using existing property taxes). I don’t subscribe to the premise that I need government approval to build whatever I want on property I own.
Sree NagiReddi (D)
Sree NagiReddi (D) stands as the Democratic Party nominee to represent the Dulles District on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
NagiReddi is an IT professional, small business owner, and real estate investor who has lived in the district for about ten years. He is a governor-appointed commissioner for Census 2020 and serves as the at-large member on the Transit Advisory Board. He has a background in civil and environmental engineering. If elected, NagiReddi promises to prioritize growth, education, and transportation. These are, indeed, three of the key issues that face the Dulles District.
On growth, he promises to “ensure that development is not prioritized at the expense of the surrounding infrastructure, but rather in conjunction with it.” Like Letourneau and the current board, NagiReddi seems to assume that it is the board’s job to control how growth and development occurs, rather than leaving it to the property owners and the free market.
On education, NagiReddi promises to “fully fund” our schools, and claims (inaccurately) that “education has lost, on average, more than $30 million each year for the past three years.” With all due respect, this is utter nonsense. Loudoun County is, if anything, over-funding its schools. The school board requests funding increases each year that far outpace the combined effects of inflation and enrollment, and it would be absurd to blindly accept those requests.
On transportation, NagiReddi says that “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.” I agree with him that we should limit our borrowing and debt. But who other than Loudoun’s taxpayers should bear the burden of funding Loudoun’s growth? New development brings in new taxpayers, after all. Growth increases the value of property, which increases property tax revenues, which should then fund the necessary infrastructure growth. Where else would the money come from?
Sree NagiReddi (D) correctly prioritizes growth, education, and transportation as the top three issues affecting Loudoun County, and the Dulles District in particular. But he offers no compelling case for why he would be a better choice than incumbent Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R).
Letourneau, too, prioritizes these issues . . . and has the track record to prove that he understands them more deeply than NagiReddi seems to.
I endorse the reelection of Matt Letourneau.
Recommendations in Other Districts
In addition to the long-form endorsements (above) for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors offices on my own ballot, I make the following recommendations for contested races in other districts.
- Algonkian District: Incumbent Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) is challenged by Juli Briskman (D). I recommend voting for Suzanne Volpe.
- Ashburn District: D.M. “Mick” Staton Jr. (R) and Michael “Mike” Turner (D) stand as the Ashburn District candidates. I recommend voting for Mick Staton Jr.
- Blue Ridge District: Incumbent Supervisor Tony Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) is challenged by Tia Walbridge (D). I recommend voting for Tony Buffington Jr.
- Broad Run District: James “Jim” Bonfils (R) and Sylvia Glass (D) stand as the Broad Run District candidates. I recommend voting for Jim Bonfils.
- Catoctin District: J. Forest Hayes (D), Caleb Kershner (R), and Sam Kroiz (I) stand as the Catoctin District candidates. I recommend voting for Caleb Kershner.
- Dulles District: See full-form endorsement above.
- Leesburg District: Incumbent Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) is running for reelection uncontested.
- Sterling District: Incumbent Supervisor Koran Saines (D-Sterling) is challenged by W. Damien Katsirubas (I). I recommend voting for Damien Katsirubas.