With more than a year and a half left in his term, Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) has announced he will not seek another term, explaining that the things he ran for office to do have been done.
“Two boards back, I was very frustrated,” Buona said. “Two boards back, they were very hostile to business. We can’t create jobs and have a strong local economy when you have your elected officials hostile to business.”
At the time, he recalled, he was chairman of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and a member of its CEO cabinet. He is senior vice president of corporate development at Telos Corporation. He said he wanted to bring roads, Metrorail, business-friendly ordinances, and low taxes to Loudoun.
“The reason I wanted Metro to come was not so much as a transportation solution, but as an economic development solution,” Buona said. “Loudoun is one of the finalists for Amazon’s HQ2. We wouldn’t have been even able to submit a proposal if Metro wasn’t coming to Loudoun County.”
As to gridlock, he said, “today we have about a billion dollars in our capital budget, and we are building roads and we are building them fast. In the next two weeks, I have two ribbon cuttings in my district alone.”
Loudoun is one of the few localities that builds roads in Virginia, where roads are traditionally considered a responsibility of the state government. But with the Virginia Department of Transportation lacking the funding to keep up with the county’s needs, Loudoun has invested significantly in its roads, and this year for the first time more than half of the county’s capital budget is set aside for transportation projects.
Buona also pointed to Loudoun’s booming economy, and a 20-cent tax rate reduction since he took office, which he attributed in part to that booming economy. And he said unlike many localities, Loudoun does not have unfunded liabilities like employee pension plans, which he said has made the county a role model cited by credit ratings agencies.
“I’m leaving because I feel like the goals are either accomplished or they’re so far down the road that a future board can’t turn them back,” Buona said. “Future roads can’t stop building roads. We’ve funded them, the money’s there, they’re getting built, they’re not going to be able to stop it.”
In his eight years on the Board of Supervisors, Buona has overseen some of the most momentous decisions and meteoric growth in Loudoun’s history, including the decision to bring Metro to Loudoun, the restructuring of the county’s fire and rescue system, the beginning of a new county comprehensive plan, and as of 2017 welcomed almost 64,000 new Loudouners since he took office in 2012.
Buona has held leadership positions for much of his time on the board, including as chairman of the Finance and Government Operations Committee during his previous term and as vice chairman of the board this term.
He said he has been speaking with several possible candidates to run to replace him as a Republican on the board in the 2019 board election.
He also thanked his colleagues, his chief of staff Dorri O’Brien, and his wife Chris.
County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) allowed him to speak without a time limit, an unusual consideration, during the Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday, July 19. Other supervisors also thanked Buona.
“I don’t know of anybody who’s more thorough or works any harder or has been more dedicated to his job on the board,” said Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin).