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Loudoun elections: Democrat Randall wins second term as county appears to move left

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors chair Phyllis J. Randall (D).
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors chair Phyllis J. Randall (D). (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
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Loudoun County became more blue Tuesday when Phyllis J. Randall won a second term as chair of the Board of Supervisors, beating Republican John C. Whitbeck on a night when Democrats added three seats and claimed the majority on the nine-member county board.

The elections were in part a referendum on Loudoun’s identity amid strong anti-Trump sentiment in the Washington area. One candidate who flipped a seat was Democrat Juli Briskman, 52, who launched her bid after winning some celebrity for flipping off the president’s motorcade in 2017.

Randall, the county’s first African American board chair, ran on a combination of national and local issues, drawing on Loudoun’s growing diversity, frustration over recent racist incidents in schools and opposition to President Trump.

Her victory, Randall said, proved that the country’s wealthiest county wants a local government that better reflects its steadily growing and increasingly diverse community of 413,000 residents.

“Throughout my term I’ve been straightforward with voters and honest about our challenges on road improvements, housing and other issues,” Randall, 54, said Tuesday night. “Sometimes we forget that most national issues affect local voters — local governments have to step in where the federal government won’t. I’m very excited — we ran a diverse slate, not just race, sex and ethnicity but age and experience, too.”

Full results of Virginia’s state legislative and local elections

Randall will lead a board next year whose GOP majority will be shaved by three seats, flipping to a 6-to-3 Democratic majority.

The board last held a Democratic majority from 2008 to 2012. In the 2011 election, Republicans won all nine seats.

With nearly all votes counted in Tuesday’s district races, Briskman beat Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian); Democrat Michael R. Turner beat Republican D.M. “Mick” Staton in Ashburn; Democrat Sylvia Glass beat Republican James Bonfils in Broad Run; Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) beat independent W. Damien P. Katsirubas; Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) beat Democrat Tia Walbridge; Republican Caleb Kershner beat Democrat Forest Hayes in the Catoctin district; and Republican Supervisor Matthew F. LeTourneau beat Sree Nagireddi in the Dulles district, according to unofficial results.

Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) was unopposed.

Randall vowed to make Loudoun a more active voice on issues such as gun violence, climate change and women’s rights — a message she hoped would resonate among Democrats seeking to win a majority in the General Assembly.

She also highlighted her work with the Republican-controlled board during her first term to update the county’s “Comprehensive Plan” for the first time in nearly two decades, steer higher-density development to areas near the Silver Line and add protections against development encroaching into rural areas.

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Whitbeck, 43, said keeping the county’s explosive growth in check would have been his chief priority. The former chair of Virginia’s Republican Party had vowed to focus on traffic congestion, school funding and efforts to protect the area’s steadily eroding rural corridor from future development.

Sarah Barker, 36, of Leesburg, voted for Randall as chair, saying she likes “how much time and effort she puts into engaging with her constituents.”

“I’m on a couple of Facebook groups that she’s on, and even if she doesn’t always agree with someone, she has a nice sense of humor,” Barker said as she left her polling place at Sycolin Creek Elementary School. “She’s not divisive.”

Three Republican supervisors — Ron A. Meyer (Broad Run), Geary M. Higgins (Catoctin) and Ralph M. Buona (Ashburn), the board’s vice chair, did not seek reelection.

In the Broad Run race, Glass, 54, is a special-education teacher. She said she would push for more affordable housing for county employees and try to entice people to use the Silver Line by creating more free parking near train stations.

She defeated Bonfils, 63, who echoed Whitbeck’s calls to add a police officer to every elementary school and said he would support affordable-housing development near Silver Line stations. Bonfils, who chairs the county Republican Party committee, briefly served as an interim supervisor when Supervisor Shawn M. Williams (R-Broad Run) resigned in 2015 after being charged with assaulting a neighbor.

In Catoctin, Kershner, 44, said he would foster the growth of agribusinesses in rural western Loudoun. A former assistant commonwealth’s attorney, Kershner also said he’d focus on increasing broadband Internet access in rural areas.

Hayes, 54, said he’d work to generate revenue for small-town schools in Loudoun by leasing antenna rights on those buildings to telecommunications companies.

In Ashburn, Turner, 62, a former Air Force colonel who leads a foundation for military families, said he’d advocate for the county to add walking trails, bike paths and other forms of transportation near Silver Line stations. Turner also said he’d work to prevent overdevelopment in historic Old Ashburn.

Turner beat Staton, 49, who represented the former Sugarland Run district in the early 2000s and is the son-in-law of retiring state Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun).

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He lost his insurance and turned to a cheaper form of insulin. It was a fatal decision.

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