Letter: John C. Whitbeck Jr., Lansdowne

Editor: As a long-time Loudoun resident, I am very disappointed with the lack of leadership and partisan politics on display by Phyllis Randall recently.

The Democrat chair of Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors is holding what she has advertised as a “Rural Summit” this Friday at the Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg. The event purports to be an opportunity to discuss the critical issue of Loudoun County’s rural land-use policy with key stakeholders, and county staff is being used to plan and execute it.

The reality is much different. This summit is nothing more than a re-election ploy, and Loudoun residents should be outraged that Ms. Randall is using taxpayer resources to campaign for herself and fellow Democrats.

This is not how the public’s business should be conducted in Loudoun County, or how a serious, effective leader behaves.

Here are the facts:

Despite three years of serving as chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, it is only with a re-election campaign looming that Ms. Randall is realizing the importance of western Loudoun and the unique challenges there—issues the two Republican supervisors who represent this area have been diligently working on for years. Ms. Randall even decided to exclude those two Supervisors from participating in the Summit, and only reconsidered after they read about the Summit in the newspaper and asked her office for more details. (https://www.loudounnow.com/2018/11/09/western-supervisors-decry-political-rural-summit/). Nor did she invite the mayor of Middleburg who is heavily vested in Loudoun’s rural issues, even though the summit is taking place in his town.

She named as summit “emcee” the presumed Democrat candidate for Blue Ridge District supervisor, the one running against Tony Buffington next year (the same uninvited supervisor who represents the district). (https://www.loudounnow.com/2018/09/21/walbridge-mounts-campaign-for-blue-ridge-supervisor-seat/)

As for the featured “federal” speaker on the summit panel, Ms. Randall recruited an individual who has contributed $28,887 to Democrat candidates since 1999. (https://www.vpap.org/donors/41775-robert-f-bonnie/?start_year=1999&end_year=2017).

The “state” speaker is equally partisan, as she is a former campaign aide and staffer for Democrat Senator Mark Warner and appointee of Democrat Governor Ralph Northam. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/cassidyrasnick).

Partisanship too often defines our national politics, but that’s not how most people vote when it comes to local issues. Land use, transportation, education and public safety are not Democrat or Republican issues, and a serious leader knows that partisanship has no place locally. The work of the Loudoun Board and the role of its chair must always be about doing what’s best for our citizens and county, and being honest about it.

As for the concerns of western Loudoun citizens and communities, these are among the most serious issues the Board faces. That includes the ongoing revision of Loudoun’s Comprehensive Plan, which must include efforts to stop the erosion of our rural heritage and the encroachment of suburban sprawl. Here, too, Ms. Randall has been a politically-motivated observer over the past three years, not a leader.

On Jan. 21, 2016, the Board of Supervisors adopted a Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. The preamble to the Code recognizes that being on the board “demands the highest levels of ethical, and moral conduct as well as integrity and professionalism…”  The code also states that board members must “(u)se county resources, county staff or staff that is in any way financially compensated by the County of Loudoun only to conduct county business.”

Conducting a campaign event disguised as a policy summit is a clear violation of the Code of Ethics and may be in contravention of Virginia campaign finance laws. It cannot stand.I call on Chair Randall to cancel her summit or own up to what it really is—a political event that must be paid for by her campaign, not by Loudoun taxpayers. Loudoun County needs serious leadership, not partisanship.

John C. Whitbeck, Jr., Lansdowne

6 thoughts on “Letter: John C. Whitbeck Jr., Lansdowne

  • 2018-11-13 at 8:30 am

    The letter from Mr. Whitbeck demonstrates why he will never win an election in Loudoun County (unless the one he might run in is the Catoctin District). What did we just see from last Tuesdays election results? That the alt-right, scream at everything, show nothing of substance, and be the posterchild of the “uncontrolled angry white male,” results in big loses. Nothing like doing something over and over again the same way, and expecting different results. I was not sure that Chair Randall would win re-election, due to the type of election she had in 2015. With critics like Mr. Whitbeck, Chair Randall’s victory now seems assured.

  • 2018-11-13 at 10:55 am

    Since when have Democrats cared about rural Loudoun? Sure, there is the pretense of environmentalism. But time and time and time again Loudoun’s elected Democrats vote in favor of sprawl (although they like to call it density). How about that developer authored Draft Comprehensive Plan Ms. Randall is pushing through? Is that friendly to rural Loudoun? Nooooooooo!

    Ms. Randall’s campaign rally is at taxpayer expense and is clearly partisan for all the points aptly described by Mr. Whitbeck. That also makes it illegal.

    Let’s hope the rural Republicans organize a 2nd Amendment rally and have it paid for by the County.

  • 2018-11-13 at 12:09 pm

    The federal speaker, Robert Bonnie no longer works for the federal government so I’m not sure why he qualifies to be speaking on the behalf of the federal government. He is, however, qualified to speak for the Brookings Institute. Perhaps he can speak to how his research into analyzing rural Americans in respect to their views on environmental issues and how he plans on using the citizens opinions in western Loudoun to drive government policy? That is his current research focus according to his bio on institute’s website.
    He’s also has been trying to find ways to incentivize landowners, more specifically those involved in agriculture to implement more farming practices to decrease their carbon footprint. The incentive to do so is access to the market, and avoiding having to implement a carbon tax.

    • 2018-11-13 at 12:39 pm

      Just when you thought it was not possible for western Loudoun to be more disenfranchised from the rest of the county.
      Our government will be discussing issues and ways to address them with policy but the people will not be represented in the discussion, then come to find out there is a clear liberal leaning overtone, but people are made because of the midterm election.
      Perhaps some may be, but given my votes, I have no reason to be upset about the election, so it must be my government isn’t looking out for the interest of the entire community, only those who donate to their campaign funds. And to be so smug as to say, meh, unfortunately it is what it is.
      Yeah, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the chair cant grasp why people are actually angry when they aren’t given a chance to be represented in discussions that affect them directly, discussion that are intended to help shape policy. Excuse those of us who get seem to get over the fact our tax money is literally going towards excluding us when discussing what our future tax dollars will go towards implementing what this discussion helped to create.
      This isn’t a partisan matter- every person in this community should be against their government functioning outside the power given to them. Yeah, the chair is our representative, but would it not make sense to include the two supervisors who we contact and discuss issues with directly? Would they not have meaningful input as to what they have heard from their constituents? Maybe that’s why they weren’t included on the panel? Maybe the people really doesn’t matter? Then again when it comes to growth and planning in the west the people are often or at least feel ignored, why should this be any different.

  • 2018-11-13 at 3:36 pm

    “the chair cant grasp why people are actually angry when they aren’t given a chance to be represented in discussions that affect them directly”

    Or, when they heartily and honestly participate in Envision Loudoun and overwhelmingly voice their concerns for open and green spaces and better infrastructure and then get steamrolled by the Chair’s developer friends who want to pave over the County.

    This summit should be the summit the Chair wishes she never attended because rural Loudoun shows up and tells her why her Draft Comprehensive Plan stinks worse that a cattle field.

    • 2018-11-14 at 8:13 am

      Which could explain why it’s on a work day, a Friday at that. And I suppose that may have also been a factor when choosing a venue. I mean it only makes sense if those driving rural Loudoun can’t afford to or have the luxury of taking a day off to attend then why not chose a venue where those you can RSVP will feel comfortable and in their own element? Right?

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