All but one of the candidates elected Tuesday to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors have promised to press for new limits on residential development and try to collect more money from developers who want to build houses.
Eight of the nine winners were endorsed by a citizens group called Voters to Stop Sprawl, whose leaders attributed the results to intense dissatisfaction with the clogged roads, increased taxes and crammed classrooms that development has brought over the last four years.
The views of the newly elected board members, who will take office in January, are in contrast with the current majority.
"It's a complete upside down from what the board was before," Democrat Charles A. "Chuck" Harris said yesterday after defeating a Republican in the Broad Run District by a scant 17 votes, in unofficial results. "This is a tremendous mandate for reasoned growth in Loudoun County."
The new board also will bring a dramatic partisan shift. The current board includes one Democrat, one independent and seven Republicans. The new board will include four Democrats, two independents endorsed by the Democrats and three Republicans. (At yesterday's board meeting, the incumbent Democrat, Supervisor Eleanore C. Towe of Blue Ridge, noted cheerfully that she looked forward to working with the new board.)
The board's chairman-elect, Supervisor Scott K. York (R), announced that he would appoint a "transition team" that includes slow-growth activist Alfred P. Van Huyck and others.
"The people of Loudoun County have spoken," said York, who was elected at large. "They clearly want the county to move in a new direction to control the rate of residential growth, preserve our rural heritage, protect our natural resources and improve the quality of life."
All the supervisors-elect--with the exception of Eugene A. Delgaudio (R), who ran unopposed in the Sterling District--said they would press for several measures to limit development, many of which would need approval from lawmakers in Richmond.
Among them is a measure that would allow the county to shut off residential development in areas with inadequate roads and schools. The supervisors-elect also want to cut off residential development if the county determines it cannot afford new schools and other facilities for the new residents--a measure that some of them say they might enact even without approval from the Virginia General Assembly. And the eight slow-growth candidates said they wanted permission to charge developers fees for every new house they build.
Less clear is how new board members will approach economic development. Many said they support efforts to recruit new businesses, but they have said they want to make sure the businesses locate in places where infrastructure already exists.
Some of the slow-growth candidates who emerged victorious Tuesday were lesser known than their opponents. In the Leesburg District, for instance, lawyer Mark R. Herring (D) defeated Leesburg Mayor James E. Clem (R). Herring criticized Clem for supporting too much development in town during his tenure.
Some of the winners said they got a big boost from Voters to Stop Sprawl. The group did extensive mailings and made about 20,000 telephone calls to mobilize support for its slate. Joe Maio, a spokesman for the group, said he expects the winners to advance the slow-growth cause.
"We recognize that the new board cannot instantly reverse all the pro-growth policies of the past," Maio said. "We do expect that the board will live up to its commitment to implement smart growth policies during their first year in office."
Incumbent Chairman Dale Polen Myers suffered a crushing blow in Tuesday's voting, finishing third behind York and a little known slow-growth advocate, James G. "Jim" Kelly, who ran as an independent. At the board's meeting yesterday, Myers wished York well and promised a smooth transition, but she criticized him for failing to include experienced educators on his transition team.
Myers, who campaigned on maintaining the quality of schools as the county grows, was attacked by slow-growth activists for the surge of development that propelled Loudoun to the third fastest-growing county in the country. But she said Tuesday night that she saw no clear message about growth in the election returns.
Outgoing Supervisor Steven D. Whitener (R-Sugarland Run) praised Myers for helping lure economic development to Loudoun and making it prosperous--"perhaps too prosperous for her own good" in view of the election results. He expressed skepticism about the victors' promises.
"The people expect the Democrats and their allies to keep their word," Whitener said. "They promised to stop sprawl, which is another word for suburbia. Let them do it. They promised to stop tax increases, which they linked to development. So let them do it. I think the voters should look very very closely at the next budget to make sure they keep their promises and don't raise their taxes."