Government Responsiveness and Transparency
First and foremost, I believe that government should be responsive and accountable to its citizens. It should listen to all of its citizens. We have all seen too many instances where that was not the case. I am not a professional advocate or politician. I commute to work every day and sit in traffic just like you do. I do not think that I am smarter than everyone else; I am a regular citizen just like you. As your elected representative, I have been committed to listening to the citizens of Loudoun and not telling them what is best for them. It is my sincere desire is to be an effective public servant and maintain Loudoun County’s quality of life.
This current Board of Supervisors was elected on three commitments; to lower taxes and control spending, improve transportation and encourage economic development in order to lower our residential property tax rate. We have kept those promises. I would humbly ask the voters to return me to office and allow us to maintain the course.
Taxes, Spending and Budgets
The current Board of Supervisors (BOS) came into office with the commitment of improving transportation, controlling spending and economic development. We have delivered on those promises. When this board entered office, Loudoun County was in serious need of a change in direction on the Board of Supervisors. We had to get control of the endless taxing, spending and ever increasing debt.
The board’s commitment was to re-focus our attention to the core missions of local government; education, transportation and public safety. We have also worked to build a balanced approach to our tax base, bringing new business to Loudoun while retaining the old to create and maintain good local jobs. Our property taxes were the highest in our region; higher than Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria and Prince William Counties. A more balanced tax base has brought relief to the high tax burden on our homeowners.
This board has grown our commercial and industrial tax base. It has committed 2 cents of the property tax rate to transportation and currently has a $790 million CIP for road construction. The board has increased funding to Loudoun County Public Schools by almost $239 million over the past four years. These increases total about a 32% increase to the LCPS operating budget against an enrollment growth of roughly 14% for the same period. This year the board was the first BOS to fully fund the LCPS budget request since 2001. In addition, this board has also fully funded the LCPS CIP requests including the Academies of Science along with some significant previously unfunded requests that developed. And this was all accomplished while lowering the tax rates and reducing the average homeowner’s property tax bill by about $235 a year.
I am a fiscal conservative and my record as your Catoctin representative on both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board is consistent and clear; I have fought against and reduced unnecessary spending in the budget and have lowered the tax rate. I remain committed to reining in the growth of taxes, spending and unnecessary debt.
Loudoun’s reputation as a “business friendly” community has been restored and this board has worked very hard to accomplish that. We have increased our commercial and industrial square footage by over 10,000,000 square feet (estimated $3 billion investment) since taking office. This growth in our commercial and industrial tax base has also brought over 9658 new or retained jobs to Loudoun. Dulles Airport is a huge economic engine in the metropolitan area and we are working to take full advantage of it. We don’t want Loudoun to be a “bedroom community”… and we are doing something about it. We have been very serious about bringing new businesses to Loudoun while retaining those that are here in order to create and maintain good local jobs.
Closer to home in the Catoctin District, I have worked very hard with our Rural Economic Development Commission (REDC) to expand the business and farming opportunities of the “rural economy” in the western parts of the county. Our historic beauty and growing wine industry has made Loudoun, “Virginia’s Wine Country” and a popular tourist destination. I have also worked to encourage growth in the rural economy by amending overly burdensome and restrictive regulations on our Bed and Breakfast Inns along with working on reasonable regulations for our newest expansion into the Farm Brewery business.
Preserving Loudoun’s rural west cannot be accomplished without growing the rural economy. I believe one thing is certain; nothing is not going to happen in western Loudoun and if we don’t find ways for the large property owners in the west to sustain those properties and building houses become the best use… then we will get more more houses.
Ultimately, I believe that economic development is the long term solution to our budget problems while at the same time controlling unnecessary taxing and spending. By encouraging new business to settle in Loudoun County, we will create jobs, increase revenues to the county and ease the property tax burden that has been unfairly placed on backs of our homeowners.
Quality of Life
Loudoun County remains one of the most beautiful counties in the country. I support the current housing density contained in the comprehensive plan as amended by the Board in 2007. I believe that any new development should be evaluated on its own merits and considered based on what is good for the county and not what is good for the developer. This current Board has been very particular about new development and has approved fewer new homes than any of it predecessors. I also believe that all residential and commercial developers should be encouraged to use the USGBC “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Standards” (LEED) for sustainable building solutions to increase energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of new development.
I have worked for the expansion of new parks in Loudoun by obtaining the funding for the new county park in Lovettsville, a new state park in Neersville and the opening of the NVRPA Park at White’s Ford. I have also worked with the National Park Service to expand the Harpers Ferry National Park into Loudoun and the Appalachian Trail. Additionally, I have worked with a number of groups to expand the Potomac Heritage Trail and other trail connectivity throughout western Loudoun.
Lyme disease is serious health issue that is affecting the daily lives of too many of our citizens in Loudoun. Lyme’s disease is a dangerous condition that if left undetected and untreated poses a very serious health hazard to our citizens. As such, I co-sponsored legislation in Loudoun to form a Lyme Commission that developed a 10 Point Plan committed to reducing this health hazard through better awareness, prevention and treatment of the condition.
This Board of Supervisors has made transportation a priority in order to get Loudoun moving again. We have focused on road improvements over the past four years, committing $0.02 of the tax rate, or approximately another $14 million in local tax funding each year for transportation and have another $792 million in future road improvements on our six year plan. No previous board has made this commitment to transportation. We will also need to continue to work together with our state delegation to get a fair share of our tax money back from Richmond to meet our transportation needs.
When I ran for office in 2011, few significant road or safety improvements had been made to the main commuting routes west of Leesburg since the Route 7 Bypass was finished in the early 1980’s. I committed to focus on five specific areas that were transportation bottlenecks in our district. Those were; the overpass at Sycolin Road, the Route 7 climbing lanes west of Leesburg, an interchange on the Route 7 Bypass at Route 690 in Purcellville, the Route 9 and 287 intersection and completion of the 4 lane portion of Riverside Parkway at Fort Evans Road.
I am pleased to report that all of these projects are either completed, soon to be completed or in the design and development stages. The Sycolin Overpass is completed, the 4 lanes on Riverside Parkway are completed, the climbing lanes on Route 7 west on Leesburg will be completed this fall, the study and design of an interchange at Route 690 on Route 7 has been funded and a VDOT study for the design of a round-about at Route 9 and 287 has been funded.
Additionally, I have been working with VDOT to find solutions to the serious traffic problems on Route 15 north of Leesburg. Recent projects include the repaving of Route 7 north of Leesburg to Limestone School Road, two studies in that area to look at possible road improvements and other solutions including an overpass at Fort Evans Road and Battlefield Parkway.
Loudoun County has the most miles of unpaved roads in Virginia and I am committed to working with VDOT to preserve and maintain our unpaved gravel roads in Western Loudoun.
Finally, I am also very concerned by the continued rapid rise in tolls on the Dulles Toll Road and the Greenway that are predicted by some to be over $25 round trip in the near future. If these tolls continue to rise at the current rate, they will become unaffordable for most of Loudoun’s families and could have a serious economic impact on our county. This board has joined in a lawsuit over the high cost of the tolls and I am also committed to working with our state delegation to bring some much needed relief to Loudoun’s citizens.
Not all transportation solutions require more steel and asphalt. We must continue to work to improve and expand our existing telecommunications infrastructure to allow more people to work from home and take their cars off Loudoun’s roads.
Broadband Access in Western Loudoun
One of the issues that remains at the forefront of my agenda is improving broadband availability in Western Loudoun. I am sure many of you have experienced the frustration of seeking out high-speed internet and finding very few options, I am included in that list.
Since taking office, I have realized that the solution to this issue requires a multi-faceted approach and we have worked very hard in this area. We have renamed and reorganized the Communications Commission so it could address current technologies. We have conducted a communications summit and a western Loudoun Town Hall meeting to bring all the stakeholders together; providers, citizens, commission members and staff to discuss the issue. Due to the low density and rural character of Western Loudoun, the francize providers are slow to extend to those areas, because they claim they are losing money. Unfortunately, the County’s leverage is limited over what areas providers are required to service, because of the antiquated language in existing 15 year francize agreements that were negotiated with the prior board. The Board of Supervisors is currently looking into what options we may have under those existing agreements. In January our Communications Commission brought a list of recommendations to the Board which I found to be sound and practical. The county staff is currently evaluating those recommendations. The recommendations include some zoning changes which would encourage alternate providers to enter the market. I am in favor of removing certain regulatory barriers where it makes sense. In those areas where our francize agreements do not provide broadband; the best thing we can do is to work to attract alternate providers by making it cost-effective for them to extend their service to western Loudoun.
We have had success in getting Comcast to extend their service into the Paeonian Springs and Waterford areas. If you are seeking assistance in getting broadband to your home or neighborhood or have more questions, please visit my website at Loudoun.gov/ Catoctin, or contact my office.
Quality Cost Effective Schools
As a former school board member whose wife has taught in the LCPS system, I know that everyone benefits from a high quality cost effective school system. It educates our children, protects our home values and helps attract new business to our county. Loudoun County’s school children are our future and our legacy and a quality education is a key to that future.
The current Board of Supervisors has increased funding to Loudoun County Public Schools by almost $239 million over the past four years. These increases total about a 32% increase to the LCPS operating budget against an enrollment growth of roughly 14% for the same period. This year the board was the first BOS to fully fund the LCPS budget request since 2001. In addition, this board has also fully funded the LCPS CIP requests including the Academies of Science along with some significant previously unfunded requests that developed. And this was all accomplished while lowering the tax rates and reducing the average homeowner’s property tax bill by about $450 a year.
School budgets must be reasonable and appropriate, addressing the true needs of the school system and not be used as a political football. I believe that the higher the percentage of the budget directed into the classroom, the better. As I said, my wife Gail taught in the school system and I know about the challenges teachers face.
I am very encouraged at the approach taken by the new Superintendent Dr. Williams to the budget and look forward to a continued positive working relationship with him and the School Board. As a former School Board member, I strongly believe that a positive working relationship between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board will benefit the county budget process and with my experience, I bring a working knowledge of the school system to the Board of Supervisors. This year I was appointed as the Co-Chair of the Joint Board/School Board Committee and I hope to further improve our relationship in that capacity.
I strongly support Western Loudoun’s “small schools” and my record is clear that I will fight to preserve them. I am proud of our schools and I have three daughters that graduated from Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville.
Our county’s school system must also be open to non-public and home schooled children because, their families are tax payers as well. I was a strong supporter of this position when I served on the School Board.
History and preservation are my passions and I have been involved in preserving Loudoun’s heritage for almost 30 years. I strongly support creating and encouraging voluntary incentives for preservation efforts.
After moving to Loudoun, my friend Mark Walston (a former historian for the State of Maryland) and I did the research and legwork required to nominate Bluement and establish it as a Historic Landmark. We also had help from David Edwards who is now the Northern Regional Director with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Having grown up in neighboring Montgomery County, MD, I realized that towns like Bluemont should be officially preserved while they could or someday it would run the risk of being scraped off or torn down and “improved” like the old town of nearby Rockville, Maryland. My family later donated the E.E Lake store to the County, which continues to be enjoyed by Bluemont Fair goers and the citizens of Bluemont.
As a member of the Board of Supervisors, I have been an outspoken advocate for preservation of Loudoun’s history and its historic structures from the preservation of the Featherbed Bridge, to the establishment of a historic district on Edwards Ferry Road, to the preservation of the historic homes in Aldie and Leesburg. I have worked tirelessly to expand Loudoun’s park and trail system including the new NVRPA Park at Whites Ford, the county park and community center in Lovettsville, the new State park in Neersville, a new park at Point of Rocks and the expansion of the Potomac Heritage and other trails in Loudoun.
My wife Gail and I have restored two historic homes, winning an award from the Preservation Society of Loudoun County for the restoration and preservation of the Brooks Tavern House in Bluemont. Our current home is “Catalpa Grove” near Waterford.
Since 1998, I have been a member and former officer of the Loudoun Museum Board.
There is no disconnect between conservative and conservation. As your Supervisor I will continue these efforts to preserve Loudoun’s many historic treasures.