Western Supervisors Decry ‘Political’ Rural Summit

Supervisors Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said they are “disappointed” at what they say appears to be political motivations for County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall’s (D-At Large) planned rural summit Friday, Nov. 16.

During the Nov. 8 Board of Supervisors meeting, Higgins said neither he nor Buffington were told about the summit, and were invited to attend only after asking about it. Their districts include most of the county’s rural land.

“In the past two terms, my office in conjunction with the Blue Ridge office has sponsored three rural summits, and at each one of those summits we invited the chair or chairwoman to participate and speak at those rural summits,” Higgins said.

He said he was concerned he and Buffington were invited to attend, but not participate. And, he pointed out, the person emceeing the event, Tia Walbridge, has declared she will run against Buffington in the 2019 election.

“It does appear, unfortunately, to have become a political event, and I think it’s unfortunate, because we’re missing a real opportunity where we could have made progress on some of these issues in western Loudoun County,” Buffington said.

The summit is also being organized using Randall’s office budget, which Higgins said may be an ethics violation.

Randall, who was out of town during the board meeting, said Walbridge was the clear choice to lead the event.

“While I understand the concern, if you look at her résumé, it is obvious that she knows what she’s talking about when she talks about the rural west, so it really wasn’t a hard decision,” Randall said. Walbridge, a sheep farmer, is also a founding board member of Save Rural Loudoun, an associate director with Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, and serves on the Virginia Agricultural Council. Randall said she “wasn’t thinking about politics” when she chose Walbridge.

She also said her process setting up this summit was the same as her previous events, and pointed out that Higgins and Buffington have not held a rural summit in this term so far. She put the backlash down to emotion following this week’s election, in which state Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-33) decisively defeated Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock in the 10th District Congressional race.

“Mrs. Comstock is not just their congresswoman, she’s their friend,” Randall said. “When you look at the numbers in Loudoun, they are stark, so I’m sure emotions are just very high right now.”

She said Loudoun has a “collegial” Board of Supervisors, she respects her colleagues, and “for me it’s very important to put this behind us.”

“It’s been a tough week, I get that, and emotions are high,” Randall said. “You have to put those emotions somewhere, and I am the chair of the board and I have broad shoulders, and I can handle their emotions for right now.”

The rural summit is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 16 at the Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg.

13 thoughts on “Western Supervisors Decry ‘Political’ Rural Summit

  • 2018-11-09 at 3:57 pm

    Perhaps the hyperpartisanship shown by these two Western Supervisors is the issue.

    Here’s the program for the Rural Summit, including Walbridge’s credentials. I can’t find the “political” part.

    8:30-9:00 am: Breakfast and Registration

    Summit Emcee: Tia Walbridge – Virginia Agricultural Council, Loudoun Farm Bureau Board, Associate Director Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, Sheep Farmer, and Rural Small Business Owner

    9:30 am to 10:45 am: View from the Inside: Tools available for the Rural Economy
    Moderator: Beth Erickson – President and CEO, Visit Loudoun

    11:00 to 11:30: Local Success Stories: Putting it all together

    11:30 to 11:45: Informal Farmer and Producer Market

    11:45 am to 12:45 pm: Lunch and break

    12:45 to 2:00 pm: Afternoon Breakout Sessions
    The Community: Supporting and Growing the Next Generation
    Moderator: Chris Van Vlack – Loudoun Farm Bureau, Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation

    The Land: Preserving and Maintaining Rural Loudoun County
    Moderator: Alta Jones – Chair REDC

    2:00 to 2:30 pm: Q&A, Brainstorming Solutions/Closing Session – Chair Phyllis Randall

  • 2018-11-09 at 4:46 pm

    Regrettably, this is pure politics and not statesmanship by a Chair who has single-handedly turned her leadership position into a political one. From her narcissistic and self-aggrandizing “State of the County” addresses and now this stunt, Chair Randall is showing her true political colors.

    I moved to Loudoun from Fairfax County, which also has a countywide elected chair. You would never see this kind of stuff from Sharon Bulova, the fair-minded Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

  • 2018-11-09 at 5:13 pm

    Save us the mystified shoulder shrugging — this is a campaign event plain and simple. It’s even more obvious now than when it was announced. Holding a “summit” to discuss western Loudoun and it’s “rural economy,” yet callously neglecting to invite the two sitting elected board members who represent western Loudoun? Uh huh… campaign event for sure.
    Perhaps MP can gaze into the looking glass and find nothing ‘political’ about it, but reasonable people see past the curtain.
    For Chair Randall to imply sour grapes because of the election is the height of deflection and juvenile.
    Who’s paying for all of this? Somebody is paying something. Do some digging LN. Exposure is always the best disinfectant.

  • 2018-11-10 at 10:32 am

    Eastern Loudoun gets new roads and is the focus for development and county spending.

    Western Loudoun still has unpaved roads and no broadband internet.

    Time for a change. Next year’s elections will replace these two do-nothing western supervisors.

    • 2018-11-11 at 8:31 am



      You clearly don’t follow what this board is doing. A broadband strategic plan was approved less than 5 months ago with a strong push from both Higgins and Buffington.

      You are not seriously complaining about unpaved roads when the likes of Wexton voted time and time again for our tax and roads money to be directed to the financial fiasco that is Metro, are you?

      Why do you think we had a question on the ballot regarding borrowing money to build roads?

      We are already paying an extra tax to the NVTA, then our road tax money got diverted earlier this year to metro, two measures that indiscriminately target Northern Virginians regardless of their income and their use the of the system closer to the capital, and now we have to pay more taxes on interests to pay for sorely needed roads, but it’s Buffington and Higgins’ fault we still have unpaved roads?

      Okay… Hypocrite much?

      I have not met Buffington, but you obviously have never dealt with supervisor Higgins. He for one listens to his constituents instead of playing politics. He does not hesitate to meet with groups of concerned Catoctin citizens when reached out to, and listen to what we have to say.

      Let us know when you’re done playing groupie to a supervisor at large who was elected with just 37% of the vote when her two contenders with similar ideas for our county garnered a combined 60% of the vote.

      We all look forward to reading your unbiased and constructive comments.

  • 2018-11-10 at 2:15 pm

    Give me a break. Everything this woman does is political. Her “State of the County” address was a joke – nothing more than a “look at me” attention stunt. Then she showed up at the recent Town of Leesburg Forum & went around glad-handing everyone like she was queen bee; didn’t even have the manners to introduce herself, just wanted to shake my hand & be seen. This event will be no different. Phyllis is all about Phyllis. And to lay it off on election emotions is rich. These gentleman have been asking about this well before Tuesday. I sure hope the people of the west see through this crap when next November rolls around.

  • 2018-11-11 at 10:11 am

    Who is paying for this? If Randall actually cared about this County, she would include the two Western Supervisors. Instead, she only cares about herself and for her to think that the Congressional races factor into this is absolutely ridiculous. When she is wrong, she plays a political card to take attention away from the facts. Fact is this Summit has nothing to do with Western Loudoun, it is about promoting herself and her reelection. She has no values at all. When Democrat staffer was doing political business on County and taxpayer time, she did nothing.

  • 2018-11-12 at 3:13 pm

    Is a single dime in taxpayer money being spent on this? If this is a democrat cuddlefest, that’s fine. Use party funds donated by the billionaire and millionaire one percenters you actually work for, and leave our tax money be.

    Come ‘on Loudoun Now. Is our tax money being spent on this?

  • 2018-11-12 at 7:19 pm

    @Jeff Mach

    To address your questions:

    A group of local residents has met with Mr. Higgins on more than one occasion. He was supposed to “see what he could do” to get paving of out terrible gravel road prioritized, claiming money was tight. Recently the BOS list of 5 year priorities for paving or gravel roads came out – and ours was not on it.

    The so called “broadband strategic plan” is not close to being a “plan”. Have you read it? A plan spells out deliverables, dates, budgets, and tasks. None of these are to be found in the “broadband strategic plan”. Just vague hopes in “exploring public-private partnerships”… We’ve heard this for years. We’ve had surveys, studies, public meetings, a do-nothing “communication commission”, and a BOS unwilling to pressure Verizon or Comcast to live up to their contracts . Yet, we still have most of western Loudoun without broadband internet. 3rd world countries have better internet.

    Elected officials need to deliver or be replaced. Placing blame somewhere else is no excuse.

    Datacenters seem to get built with ease, yet western Loudoun residents can’t access them, unless they knock on the door with a long ethernet cable…

  • 2018-11-13 at 12:00 pm

    Perhaps, BRP, if Loudoun’s democrat General Assembly cabal hadn’t stole our NVTA road money and given it to Metro, you might have had a better chance of having your road paved. Supervisor Higgins, like the rest of the BOS, had exactly zero say in the theft of our special road taxes. No wonder the BOS has made it the top priority to restore it in the next session (good luck with that). Didn’t it strike you as odd that voters were asked to float yet another bond to pay for road improvements this past election?

    We get to pay twice, heck, maybe three times for what was promised, thanks to the theft of our tax money. What was that you were saying about elected officials needing to deliver or be replaced? They didn’t just not “deliver” — they stole your road tax money outright, taxed you even more, and now, they want to steal even more tax money to hold a campaign event. And you’re good with it? Maybe you noticed that Broadband isn’t on the agenda of this campaign event?

    You should head on down to the salamander and ask the Chair yourself where your broadband is, and when are they going to pave over every back road in W. Loudoun.

    I’ve lived on a gravel road all my life. Loudoun’s extensive network of gravel roads is part of what makes it unique and attractive. If you don’t like the rural nature of western Loudoun, then move to Ashburn/Sterling where everything has long been paved over.

  • 2018-11-13 at 1:28 pm


    I see. You’re not really concerned about the roads in Western Loudoun in general. You want your own road paved in particular, like so many suburbanites who idealized living in the country but can’t stand dealing with a dirty car.

    I live off of a dirt road and a number of my neighbors want the road paved too. I bet Higgins hears a litany of such requests all the time.

    At the end of the day whatever funds are available for roads go to improving dangerous intersections and widening congested segments. If there’s any left, maybe our tax money can be used to cater to the demands of a few needy residents who decided they don’t like gravel after all. But there’s a cost/benefit factor to it so unless your road is short with a lot of traffic, don’t expect it paved anytime soon.

    Anyway. The kicker in your reply is that “Placing blame somewhere else is no excuse”. You mean… like blaming two of our devoted county supervisors when the decision to divert our road money to metro was made in Richmond by the likes of our freshly elected district representative?

    Huh. Okay… Hypocrite much? (yes there’s an air of déjà vu here isn’t there?)

    Regarding broadband access, the plan explores the opportunity to use other technologies, attract other providers that already have a presence in the data centers you mention, change zoning requirements to facilitate the expansion, and even offers county properties for use by said providers.

    I’m not sure what more you are asking for.

    Do you expect the County to fund bringing broadband internet to every Loudouner’s doorstep? There’s already a federal program for that.
    How do you propose we fund this? We take money from the school budget? We increase taxes some more?
    Should we subsidize bringing broadband internet access to you over paving your road or do you prefer it the other way around?
    Would you like a complimentary glass of Vidal Blanc with that or do you prefer the Viognier?

  • 2018-11-18 at 8:19 am

    Unlike others commenting, I am not interested in advancing a Republican or Democratic position or blaming “Richmond”. I hold my county supervisors accountable, regardless of party affiliation. I could care less for parties. There’s enough left-right name calling today. Politics are local. The services that I get in return for the taxes paid are my main concern. I vote for the candidate that might provide the best service, and do not blindly follow any party line. If they don’t deliver, I vote them out.

    I simply want broadband internet, so that my children are not disadvantaged as schools give out laptops and on-line homework. Broadband I can use for my home-based business and to prevent my home resale value from dropping more than it has, as buyers hears about the lack of broadband. Supervisors have the ability to pressure Verizon and Comcast to meet their contract terms. I have not seen this pressure, or even questions. Supervisors have the ability to invest in internet infrastructure – which will get paid back by ISPs leasing that infrastructure. Cost to the county is net zero. No talk or consideration of this, although is has been done in many areas of the country. I’ve not heard Verizon or Comcast or wireless ISPs asked for a proposal outlining what it would take to deliver broadband. What BOS calls a “plan” is a worthless white paper, without any defined tasks or course of action other than to hope for a “public-private” solution. We’ve heard this for years. How many “surveys” do we need to fill out, only to hear anything as a result? (I’ve gotten 3 this year alone…)

    I want a safe paved road without potholes and deep drop-offs instead of shoulders. Not a painted line highway, a simple tar and chip job with safe shoulders will do. A road where 2 cars can pass in opposite directions without one having to back up or pull off. VDOT figures show that my road is one of the most heavily traveled dirt roads in the county. I don’t care about a dirty car or dust covering my house and landscaping. I can put up with replacing tires and suspension parts regularly. What I worry about is an overturned school bus or a head-on collision on a narrow blind road. Your state money argument does not hold value. Money is there. The BOS published a road paving plan. My road was not on it, despite assurances from my supervisor that “he’s see what he could do”. VDOT finds money to do expensive projects, only to re-do them is a couple of years due to poor planning. (RT7 widening, Battlefield Parkway/Rt 7 intersection, and Rt 15 band-aids all come to mind).

    Next year, I vote for a changed supervisor. Many of my neighbors say they plan on doing the same.

  • 2018-11-24 at 12:22 pm

    Did you go to the lavish “rural policy” shindig your tax dollars paid for BRP, and demand your personal Broadband and paved roads?

    Are you cool with elected officials taxing you for a specified item (road improvements) and then taking that money and spending it on something else? You’re comfortable with Fraud?

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