Editor: I am voting straight Republican this Nov. 5 in Loudoun County because our supervisors and constitutional officers have done a stellar job managing our county and keeping spending in line while investing in key priorities like schools, transportation and public safety.
However, there is one exception where I am voting for a Democrat and that will be for the re-election of John Flannery to the Soil and Water Conservation Board.
The SWCB, whose voting members are volunteers, guide the professional staff of the state-mandated Soil and Water Conservation District to promote conservation of farmlandand implementing agricultural best management practices, among other programs.
The District and SWCB are crucial components in preserving Loudoun’s bucolic beauty and rural economy so farmers can make a living farming instead of selling out to development.
John, who lives in the Leesburg area, has served this mission well.
Recently, he stood up for the SWCB and staff in opposing the election of fellow Democrat Michelle Thomas, who is also running for the SWCB this Nov. 5.
According to John’s Facebook page, Rev. Thomas attended the board’s Sept. 16 meeting and “was warmly greeted by members and staff, yet made no effort to introduce herself, and confirmed afterwards that she cannot work with others, most particularly with the directors and staff who were present.”
According to posts from another SWCB member, and anOct. 3 article in Loudoun Now, Thomas said she was “uncomfortable in a room full of white people” and called both Flannery and his wife Holly, who serves as an associate director at the SWCD, racists and liars.
Flannery initially asked the Loudoun County Democratic Committee to not endorse her, and told Loudoun Now:“I have talked to public officials and private persons and when she does not get her way she calls them a liar and a racist.”
This is true.Thomas, who is president of the Loudoun NAACP, has been on a tirade against the Leesburg Town Council since June because they have declined to censure a fellow councilmember for defacing, rather than signing, two proclamations that he disagreed with.The council has firmed up its standards for proclamations, is reviewing its ethics policy and is discussing an agreement to have more-regular discussions with the NAACP.However, despite these concessions, she is threatening a recall of Mayor Kelly Burk, who did not support censure, and also has pulled the race card with other members of the council.
John showed a lot of guts to not only stand up to Thomas, but her predecessor as Loudoun NAACP president, Philip Thompson, who is now engaged in an anger-inspired lawsuit against the Soil & Water Conservation District. In addition, John told Councilmember Ron Campbell on Facebook: “Ron, your loyalty to Michelle exceeds your common sense. Of course, you take her part as you expect her to take yours in your prospective futile bid to unseat the Mayor [Burk] in the next election. And misty allegationsof racism have been and will continue to be charged, as that is what Michelle has been doing for the past several years.”
Hence, Thomas’ presence on SWCB will be a disruption for the worst.Loudoun Nowreports her platform for election is “toincrease diversity on the board, as well as to increase its community outreach in the ever-diversifying county. I think we all can look at the numbers and know that African Americans who have [historically] done all of the farming in Loudoun now are left out of the farming equation. We know that’s the problem. Part of the problem is systemic racism.”
The function of the board is primarily to conserve farmland whomever farms it regardless of skin color.We do not need people like this in public office.
I admire John’s performance on the SWCB and fortitude in standing up to Thomas and others who want to inject race in almost every issue.
Voters need to condemn this, too, by rejecting Thomas and re-electing John Flannery and Marina Schumacher on Nov. 5.
Ken Reid, Leesburg