Tuesday's election for the county's top elected post creates another round between incumbent Board of Supervisors Chairman Dale Polen Myers, running as an independent, and Scott K. York, the slow-growth advocate and Sterling District supervisor who soundly defeated Myers in the Republican primary.
But a second independent candidate, newcomer and slow-growth advocate James G. "Jim" Kelly, will keep it from being a one-on-one bout.
Both York, 42, and Kelly, 35, have focused debate on what the county can do to slow growth and pay for services for the 1,000 new residents moving to Loudoun every month. Myers, 43, has said that if she is reelected, her top priority will be education.
Although each of the candidates views the county's growth-related problems differently, they all say one of their main goals is the same: to keep down the real estate tax rate.
The candidates all want to retool the county's land-use plans. Myers, a former real estate agent, said the county should consider readjusting how much development can occur around western towns and said additional changes could be made depending on community consensus.
York, a home improvement contractor, advocates a broader revision, saying he wants to eliminate as many future homes as possible. Kelly, a customer service supervisor for Airbus Service Co., wants the most dramatic changes and said he would favor downzoning large sections of the county.
Myers said the county should pay for schools and other needs by continuing to recruit high-technology businesses that bring high-paying jobs. She said her efforts in recent years to lure such businesses as MCI WorldCom Inc. have helped keep down real estate taxes.
She said the county should require residential development to be linked with commercial development so that one does not outpace the other. In addition, she also advocates pressing state legislators to return a portion of tax revenue to localities.
Myers said at a recent debate that the county should focus more on public transportation as a way to alleviate the county's increasing traffic congestion. "We've got to give people other choices than just cars," she said.
But she has said that her top priority would be to work on schools. She said she wants to foster a better relationship with the School Board, which has repeatedly clashed with supervisors in recent years. York also said he would work to establish better relations between the boards.
The disputes generally center around budget issues with supervisors wanting to give the School Board less money than the members request. The supervisors are responsible only for setting the school budget; they do not decide how the money is spent.
York's campaign is premised on the contention that the county cannot afford to pay for schools and other services needed to keep up with the current rate of growth since new households generate less in taxes than they cost. "The problem we're in right now is that we're growing too fast," York said. "We need to find ways to slow down the growth."
York has proposed a range of ideas to stanch residential development and make developers pay more for such infrastructure as schools and roads when they build homes. Many of York's proposals would require approval from legislators in Richmond.
York advocates an adequate public facilities ordinance, which would allow the county to shut off residential construction in areas where there are not adequate schools or roads. He also said he wants to be able to charge builders for every home they construct, which the county cannot do now. York also said he wants the state to return to localities a portion of state income-tax revenue generated locally.
York said he is not opposed to more businesses, but he said they should be located in places that "make sense."
Kelly said that the county needs to find ways to slow growth that do not involve permission from Richmond, such as reworking the county's land-use plans and downzoning as much land as is "legally justifiable." "I will leave no stone unturned in our quest to dramatically slow the rate of development and to keep taxes low," he said.
Kelly advocates allowing developers to transfer their development rights for property in western Loudoun to land in eastern Loudoun. He said he thinks that would help solve the problem the county has been trying to avoid--the proliferation of development in western Loudoun, which county plans say is supposed to remain rural.
Kelly also has called for the elimination of the county's affordable dwelling unit program, which allows developers to build more houses in exchange for agreeing to provide some at below-market rates.
He said the county should stretch out its debt over a longer time so that the annual payments would be lower, a move he said would help stave off a tax increase.
Kelly also is running for supervisor in the Dulles District, and if he wins both, he will be able to choose between the jobs. He has said, however, that he is more interested in the chairman's job.
York and Myers have extensive records. On the Planning Commission, they both approved a large number of commercial and residential developments. After they became supervisors in January 1996, their records diverged. York said that after he worked on the first budget, he became increasingly concerned about how much new homes were costing taxpayers.
York sponsored initiatives to reduce the number of houses that can be built along the Dulles Greenway by more than 50,000 and the number of houses that can be built in the Dulles South area by more than 70,000.
Myers abstained from final votes in both cases. In the Greenway decision, she said she did so because her family owns land in that area; with Dulles South, she said she supported some changes in the land-use plan but not others.
Both York and Myers have argued that the other approved more homes while serving on the board. The answer depends how the count is done. For instance, York voted for a rezoning that reduced the number of homes allowed in the Belmont development; Myers objected to the rezoning, saying it did not conform to county plans. She argues that the number of homes in the development should count toward York's total. York said the number of homes by which the development was reduced should be subtracted from his total.
Both York and Myers have supported tax increases during their tenures. In 1996, Myers voted against raising the real estate tax rate from 99 cents per $100 of assessed value to $1.03; York voted for that increase. In 1997, Myers and York voted to increase the tax rate from $1.03 to $1.06. In 1998, both voted against increasing taxes from $1.06 to $1.14 per $100 of assessed value. The board did not raise taxes this year.