Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) has promised that she will create a Commission on Women and Girls from her own office after that commission was voted down by the full Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night.
The idea for the commission has received an outpouring of support at public hearings, but Randall said she went into the meeting knowing it would not pass the full board after discussing it with other board members individually.
“The citizens, most especially the women of the county, said that they wanted this,” Randall said.
Republican supervisors argued that the Commission on Women and Girls did not fit into the mission of county advisory commission.
“It seems like something that wasn’t necessarily focused on [providing] advice on specific policies, but instead more a leadership group that would try to recommend things to the greater community outside of our government,” said Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run). He said he applauds Randall’s decision to run the commission from her own office, and was one of the Republican supervisors Randall credited with the idea to handle it that way.
“Generally speaking, I’m not somebody who believes that government does things better, and that includes things like commissions,” agreed Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “It just isn’t, to me, the best way to approach societal problems that there isn’t a specific policy prescription for.”
Only Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg), who was the other supervisor to support the idea in the three-member Ad Hoc Committee on Advisory Boards, Commissions and Committees, voted in favor of creating the commission. She pointed to the gap in women entering science, technology, engineering and math fields, and said lower involvement by women and girls in technical fields or lower achievement professionally is “a terrible loss of brainpower in this society.”
“The bullying that happens in the schools, yes the schools address it, but not always effectively so,” Umstattd added. “It continues to occur, again women students are threatened with violence as my daughter was in high school, and I just see a need for the county to try to reach out to women and girls.”
“At the end of my term, just like it would have been no matter what, it is my hope that I could pass this on to a private entity,” Randall said. “Because I actually think the role of government right now is to be a place that brings all these disparate groups together,” referring to private organizations in the community that promote women’s issues.
Randall said she would have preferred to create the commission with input and involvement from other supervisors.
“I don’t want to be unclear, and I don’t want to be coy, and I want to be up front with you all, and I want to be up front with the people of Loudoun,” Randall told her colleagues. “This is too important to me for it not to happen. This will absolutely happen. Unfortunately, it will happen without your input and participation.”
The motion to create the Commission on Women and Girls failed on a 2-6-1. Only Randall and Umstattd voted yes. Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) was absent.