The three candidates for Broad Run District supervisor sparred this week over ways to slow growth and fund the county's schools and other services.
Republican Bruce E. Tulloch, Independent Timothy F. "Tim" Powers and Democrat Charles A. "Chuck" Harris debated before about 50 people Monday at Potowmack Elementary in Cascades. The debate, one in a series leading up to the Nov. 2 elections, was held by the League of Women Voters and the Sterling Foundation.
The candidates are vying for the seat held by David G. McWatters, who made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination to the Virginia House of Delegates from the 32nd District.
As in most of Loudoun's local elections, slowing the county's growth and finding money for schools and other services were the hot topics. Broad Run--which takes in Ashburn Village, Countryside and Cascades--is the most populated district in Loudoun, and all three candidates said controlling residential growth would be their priority.
The trio agreed that the county needs to seek funds from developers to pay for new schools and other infrastructure, as well as expand the commercial tax base. The three also stressed a need to revamp the county's general plan, a guide for future development.
Harris, 53, a senior engineer and project manager for Enterprise Information Systems Inc., said the county needs to be more sensible about land-use planning, preserving open space and avoiding sprawl.
"Growth is inevitable, ugliness is not," Harris said, noting that the current general plan has "20 Tysons Corners zoned for eastern Loudoun."
Powers, 35, co-chairman of the Loudoun Taxpayers Alliance and a Washington lobbyist, said "the biggest problem with the plan is we don't follow it." He said he would seek more difficult rules for getting a special exception to zoning ordinances by requiring two-thirds approval by the board instead of a simple majority.
Tulloch, 39, a general manager for Sodexho Marriott Services Inc. and president of the Countryside homeowners association, said he favors creating two land management plans, one for urban and suburban areas, the other for historic and rural areas.
Tulloch said the anti-developer sentiment brewing in the county is unfair because the growth is being approved by elected officials. "I'm sick of all this developer bogyman stuff," he said.
On the issue of education, each candidate said school construction must keep pace with growth.
Tulloch would seek to "cut the fat from the administrative budget" and supports higher salaries for teachers to keep them in Loudoun.
Powers also advocated cutting administrative costs, saying School Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III should be "ashamed" of his recent raise. Powers said the county should look at ways to cut school construction costs without adversely affecting education.
Harris said Loudoun should demand a larger share of state lottery proceeds for its schools and criticized supervisors for "squabbling" with the School Board.
The candidates also sparred over their roles in a 1994 proposal to build a racetrack in Ashburn. Harris and Tulloch fought the proposal, which was soundly defeated at referendum. Powers, who worked for a lobbying firm that supported the horse track, now calls that support a "mistake," but said that "at the time, it looked like a good economic opportunity."
Early in the debate, Powers tossed barbs at his opponents, calling Harris a "tax-and-spend liberal" and alleging that Tulloch had accepted a contribution from a Leesburg lawyer who has represented a developer.
Harris described himself as a "financial conservative" and touted his experience planning multimillion-dollar budgets in the military. Tulloch bristled at the suggestion he has taken developer money. The lawyer in question, Tulloch said, has represented his homeowners association in fighting development.
On transportation, the candidates all said they would work for mass transit in eastern Loudoun. They also supported adding interchanges and other improvements along Route 28 and elsewhere.