Editor: Your recent headline “Loudoun Committee on Committees Looks at More Committees” is an instant classic. For countless millions of Americans who have endured life-sucking meetings about meetings about meetings, it garnered knowing nods of appreciation. The article could easily be cast off as the time-wasting minutiae of small-town politics.
Yet one part of the story kept jumping out at me; Loudoun Chair Randall’s insistence on reinstating a “Commission on Women” with Randall claiming “I believe that a commission on women can have a much more powerful, much stronger place in our community.” This “powerful” and “stronger” inference caused me to look around not just at our community, but at my own life and professional experiences, and how they have been shaped by women.
Starting with my mom, of course, a single mother raising four children here in Loudoun in the early ’70s and ’80s. The majority of my teachers were women, with my fourth grade teacher at Douglass Elementary, still a pillar in my upbringing. She made it very plain I would do as I was told and work hard, and she tolerated nothing less. She was a powerful and strong woman when Ms. Randall was still in elementary school. From my sixth grade dean through college, women teachers, advisors, and professors were powerful influences.
In the military, I served under women commanders from company up to a combat aviation brigade commander; I could easily write a 5,000-word essay on just her leadership qualities alone. She became a general officer and currently serves as an under secretary of defense. She is her very own walking Commission on Women. Women instructor pilots taught me to fly. On the flight deck, I flew with exceptional pilots, who happened to be women. For most of my professional career, I have called women “boss.” More often than not, their boss was a strong woman, too.
Loudoun County was electing powerful women to the Board of Supervisors chair 20 years ago. Many remarkable women have served on our governing body, with three sitting currently. Three of the four state senators representing Loudoun are strong and powerful women. Two other women represent us in the House of Delegates. The Town of Leesburg has essentially been run governed by women for well over two decades, and is likely to elect another woman mayor in the near future. Does anyone actually believe that highly competent long time Mayor, now Supervisor, Umstattd ever needed a commission to help her with anything? We are represented in Congress by a woman, who is facing another woman in the election. Women in Loudoun are managers, supervisors, police chiefs, and sheriff’s deputies. They’re firefighters, EMTs, lawyers, judges, doctors and nurses not to mention all of the women-owned businesses in the county. And last but not least, Ms. Randall herself, a strong and powerful woman, is the elected chair of the Board of Supervisors.
Women already run Loudoun County. They don’t need a “commission” to tell them that. Rather, they need elected officials to stop the silliness and address real issues that need fixing. They need the nightmarish traffic trouble spots addressed, such as Rt. 606, Rt. 15 north of Leesburg, and the dreaded Battlefield Parkway and Evergreen Mills Road intersection in the mornings and afternoons. They need good jobs right here in Loudoun, not down the river in DC. They need a responsive and reasonable local government that doesn’t waste their tax dollars which could be better spent on their families.
Women need a local government that no longer attempts to pack 10 pounds of stuff into a 5-pound bag, thus creating the horrific overcrowding of our schools, roads, public facilities, and even simply getting into a grocery store parking lot. These are basic quality of life issues—they’re the ones I hear about every day from women.
I commend the committee on committees for casting off the dead wood committees. It frees up staff and resources to focus on real results to positively affect our quality of life. Resurrecting a defunct commission on women won’t reduce seats in a classroom, relieve traffic congestion, or create prudent spending plans. The women of Loudoun don’t need some gaggle of political flunkies to tell them they’re strong and powerful; they already know.
Chris Manthos, Leesburg