A New Day in Loudoun

Monday, January 7, 2008

LOUDOUN COUNTY, among the nation's fastest-growing jurisdictions for much of the past decade, has been ill served in recent years by a local governing body whose disdain for compromise was matched by its contempt for dissent. Upon taking office four years ago, the Republicans who then controlled the Board of Supervisors immediately launched what amounted to a coup d'etat, stripping Chairman Scott K. York (I) -- the board's only member elected countywide -- of most of his powers. They then embarked on a growth-at-all-costs policy that bore little relation to either their campaign promises or the stated desires of most county residents. So much for the will of the people.

Thus it was gratifying the other day to see a newly elected board take office, shorn now of the Republican majority that was defeated at the polls. And it was heartening to watch it take up, as its first official business, the restoration of Mr. York's albeit mostly symbolic powers. That alone will not heal the wounds caused by the last board's arrogance, but it was a start.

Like other suburban jurisdictions torn by debates over the pace of development, Loudoun has been burdened by the pendulum effect of successive governing bodies that swung from pro- to anti-growth majorities and back again. The current supervisors, elected mostly on a slow-growth platform, would be well advised to steer a middle course -- which in truth had lately been forced on their predecessors by popular demand. The county can little afford a repetition of the turmoil, backbiting, expressions of bad faith and ethical tone-deafness that characterized the past four years.

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