Randall: ‘Together We Are Ready and We Are Strong’

Loudoun Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said the county is strong, but pointed out shortfalls in mental health funding, county nonprofit support, and firefighter pay in a first-of-its-kind State of the County Address on Wednesday night.

“With the scourge of opiates and other equally harmful and deadly substances, our substance abuse staff has to work at peak capacity just to keep up with the growing demand,” said Randall, herself a mental health professional. “In addition, they have to contend with the lack of available inpatient treatment programs to which they can refer clients.”

Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) embrase. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) embrace. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

She pointed out the high vacancy rates in county mental health positions, exacerbated by challenges with compensation and competition from surrounding jurisdictions and the private industry.

[Read the full text of Randall’s State of the County Address, “The Strength That is Loudoun County,” here.]

Randall also called on the county to provide more support for its nonprofits.

“Our partners in the community often bridge gaps in services and are vital resources for all of us,” Randall said. “Loudoun’s nonprofit community, for example, fills in the gap for our most at risk and our most at need.”

She said the county’s nonprofits are “sorely underfunded,” with giving down to less than three dollars per Loudoun resident across 35 nonprofits in 2015. She said that although county government has adjusted its giving for inflation, it has not adjusted for population growth.

Randall said Loudoun’s 446 career firefighters are paid much less than other D.C. Metro-area departments.

“Because of this, new firefighters who are trained in Loudoun often leave and take with them their training and potential,” Randall said.

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman, LCSO Lt. Col. Mark Poland, and Combined Fire-Rescue Service Assistant Chief Matt Tobia. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman, LCSO Lt. Col. Mark Poland, and Combined Fire-Rescue Service Assistant Chief Matt Tobia. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

“It’s not a recruitment problem; it’s a retention problem,” agreed Combined Fire-Rescue System Assistant Chief Matt Tobia after the speech. “We’ve always been very successful in recruitment.”

But Randall also took the opportunity to celebrate the county’s successes, focusing on economic development, outward-facing county departments, and the county’s locally-involved residents. She told the packed boardroom about a young man who walked into a campaign event Randall held with Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) before last fall’s election.

“In the door walked this passionate young man who came up to me and said, ‘Mrs. Randall, my name is Corey Cox and I want to help.'”

Corey Cox. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Corey Cox. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

Randall recalled Cox told her “we’re being ignored out here, and people are dying.” After her election, she appointed Cox to the Advisory Commission on Youth.

“What Corey teaches us is that people in Loudoun want to be involved, they want to participate in our county,” Randall said. “Yes, it is up to them to reach out, but when they do, it is up to us to reach back, to see them, to hear them, to pull them in.”

Randall celebrated the work done by the county’s law enforcement and first responders, its Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services staff, and nongovernmental organizations such as Visit Loudoun, and Dulles Airport.

She encouraged Loudouners to get involved in this board’s largest project, a review of the county comprehensive plan, mentioning the community stakeholders group, online updates to work on the comprehensive plan, and plans for interactive public input meetings around the county.

“Please let it be known, this Board of Supervisors and this staff want to hear the opinions of residents as we take up the long and important task of rewriting our countywide Comprehensive Plan,” Randall said.

Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin). (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin). (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

Introducing the speech, Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) said Randall’s work as chairwoman has been good for the board.

“She brings to this board, I think, a grace and a level of civility that we didn’t have last board,” Higgins said.

Woodgrove High School senior Jordan Bartel. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Woodgrove High School senior Jordan Bartel. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

The event opened with a violin performance by Woodgrove High School senior Jordan Bartel, brother of Ryan Bartrel, whose death in 2014 prompted the creation of the Ryan Bartel Foundation, which seeks to reduce teenage suicide.

“Loudoun, we can only build on these success stories to make us stronger,” Randall said. “We are well positioned for a bright and strong future.”


8 thoughts on “Randall: ‘Together We Are Ready and We Are Strong’

  • 2016-05-26 at 2:00 am

    So Randall was very careful to say she and the BOS was interested in student input. She clearly left out other constitutional officers and LCSB. So how receptive are they to input?

    Well, we know that LCA Plowman blocked criticism on his official Facebook page for months. He only unblocked the critics 60 days after a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed and still claims he can censor comments at will.

    LCSB also claims they can direct all discussions to their official school board Facebook pages (like the Leesburg rezoning) and then censor comments/critics they don’t like. Exact same situation as Plowman. When questioned this week, Jill Turgeon claims she “doesn’t need to” read the constitutional rules on viewpoint neutral restrictions.

    So, Chairwoman Randall, exactly who is interested in our feedback/input?

  • 2016-05-26 at 5:05 pm

    For the first time in a State of the County speech the chair of the board of supervisors addressed all of us—not just those of us with seventy-five dollars in hand to toss at the feet of the Chamber of Commerce.

    • 2016-05-26 at 5:40 pm

      And she didn’t have anything substantive to say. Maybe that’s why the last time it was in front of the Chamber of Commerce. If there is nothing to say, best to get wealthy folks to throw money while saying nothing of import.

  • 2016-05-26 at 6:22 pm

    Mr. McKeon, This entire ”State of the County” thing is a political gimmick made up by Randall: Most likely some PR consultant came up with the scheme, and you’re paying that consultants invoice with your tax money. Happy?

    Did you hear anything you didn’t already know? The only thing I heard was the creepy “strong” mantra…again, and more tax increases, on the backs of Loudoun homeowners, are on the way.

    This is what we get when people win public office with only 37 percent of the ballots cast. 37 percent.
    The Commonwealth is in critical need of a run-off election system: Nobody wins a clear majority, then the two highest vote recipients face off again, until one candidate receives a clear majority of the vote. That’s how fair elections are supposed to work — Not the rigged system we’re all plagued with today.

  • 2016-05-28 at 3:28 pm

    Unbelievable!!!! For the first time we have a Chair of the Loudoun BOS give a State of the County Address (in an effort to make sure EVERYONE knows what the BOS is doing and what she sees as our priorities) and she gets CRITICIZED for “telling us something we did not know”???? Who are you critics to say what we do or do not know???

    I will tell you what I DO know is and that is we are fortunate to have someone like Mrs Randall as the chair of the BOS. She is doing her best to keep the lines of communication open as the leader of the BOS and to set priorities so that we are not only be one of the wealthiest counties in the USA but one of the best governed.

    Thank you Mrs. Randall for being there for the ENTIRE community.

    Tony Fasolo

  • 2016-05-29 at 9:17 am

    “The State of the County” (thing) is not something Chair Randall just invented. It’s been done for years by the Chamber of Commerce, and yes, one had to pay to attend (you’d pay more if you were not achamber member). Phyllis this year chose to deliver it at the Board hearing room so all could attend and hear. But this is not some new “gimmick.” Other counties do this and the Governor does a “state of the state” address each January.

  • 2016-05-30 at 6:30 pm

    Chairwoman Randall had a lot of important things to say during her State of the County address and a room full of interested citizens and politicians also seemed to think so. The time is now that we move towards constructive involvement to move our county forward. New voices are now being involved and all of us are being asked to participate in making our county a better place. Thank you Chairwoman Randall for leading the way!

  • 2016-05-31 at 11:19 am

    People actually paid to hear this gimmick? Astonishing. Looks like I owe you an apology Mr. McKeon for incorrectly understanding your reference to 75 bucks.

    Mr. Reid. There is no requirement for a “state of the county” report. Nor is there one in the Virginia Constitution. The U.S. Constitution (Article 2. Sec 3) only says reporting to congress “from time to time information on the state of the union.” That’s as simple as writing a letter to congress.

    Be it a “State of the county/state/union,” what we see today are preening, self-aggrandizing shows, narcissistic politicians put on for themselves. They’ve fooled the people into believing there is something important to convey, when in reality, it’s nothing more than free advertising to push whatever agenda they’re selling that day (in this case; tax hikes). Thus, they are a gimmick.

    Mr. Reid — you praise the Chair for dropping the entrance fee at the rubber chicken dinner, and holding the show at the Board room so “all could attend and hear.” Why didn’t you say something about this before, as in when you served on the Board?
    If what she has to say is so important then why not dispense with the pep rally in a room full of politicians and government employees, and codify the “state of the county” exercise, and mail a copy to every household and business in the county. Then, and only then, it might be “all of us.”

    Bet you that won’t happen. Because it’s really nothing more than a gimmick.

    The Commonwealth needs a run-off election process now. The current system is unfair and unjust to all voters.

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