Loudoun Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) has been elected chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments board of directors, the first Loudoun representative to hold that seat since 1983.
“Loudoun is becoming a very large and important presence in the Washington region,” Letourneau said at the meeting after his election, pointing out Loudoun’s importance as the home of Dulles Airport, the majority of global internet traffic, and soon, three new Metrorail stops. “… So, I think it’s fitting now to have a Loudoun chair as our county continues to grow and assume its place in the DC region.”
The Council of Governments is an independent, nonprofit association with a membership of 300 elected representatives from 24 local governments, the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. The council is the region’s designated Metropolitan Planning Organization with responsibility for air quality, federal grants, regional public safety issues and overall cooperation and communication.
“COG is a unique and special place in the Washington region,” Letourneau said during the council meeting. “It’s a place where every member jurisdiction, large and small, literally has a place at this table. We tackle the issues that are relevant to our constituents, and many of them just don’t care what the geographic lines are between our jurisdictions. They just want action.”
Letourneau has served on the council’s board since 2012, including as vice chairman. He also served as corporate president in 2014. He serves alongside Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) on the board of directors.
The only previous Loudoun County representative to hold the post was former Board of Supervisors Chairman Carl F. Henrickson, who chaired the regional council board from 1981 to 1983. Letourneau was one year old when Henrickson took that office.
After the meeting, Letourneau said the Council of Governments would be at the center of the ongoing debates around Metro.
“COG is the only place where you have DC, Maryland and Virginia in the same room,” Letourneau said. “When we look forward at both funding and reform issues, they have to be agree upon by all of the entities. So, if the Virginia General Assembly passes a bill, that’s great, but if Maryland doesn’t pass the same bill and doesn’t make the same commitment, and if DC doesn’t make the same commitment, then nothing’s going to change as far as Metro’s concerned.” He said the council will be “the repository for what’s happening, and sort of the executor of what the results actually are.”
During his yearlong tenure as chairman, Letourneau is also implementing a regional traffic incident response task force, known as TIME—“Traffic Incident Management Enhancement.”
“There are incidents that impact multiple jurisdictions that occur that the response for them is rather siloed,” Letourneau said. “And certainly, the information sharing even can be siloed.” The TIME task force will look at cooperation among first responders, utility companies, and private sector across the region to respond to those incidents. Letourneau said it will produce information that he hopes can turn into a manual for responding to those incidents.
Letourneau was first elected to represent the Dulles District on the Board of Supervisors in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. He serves as chairman of the board’s Finance/Government Operations and Economic Development Committee. In addition to serving on the COG Board, he is the newly elected vice chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for 2018 and also represents Loudoun County on the Route 28 Transportation Improvement District Commission and the Dulles Area Transportation Association.