The day after Democrats won majorities on the local Board of Supervisors and in the state General Assembly, returning County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) hosted a press conference where she repeated her call to create a Loudoun County Police Department.
“We don’t have to recreate this wheel,” Randall said. “We can look to Fairfax county, to Prince William county, to many other large counties around the commonwealth to understand how that is done.”
Randall pointed out that in other large counties, the sheriff’s office only supervises the courts and jail, and said law enforcement should never be political.
“Every four years, the sheriff’s deputies are always worried about whether or not they get to keep their jobs based on if they supported somebody in an election,” Randall said. “That should not happen.”
A former Loudoun detective is currently seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing for a wrongful termination lawsuit against Sheriff Michael L. Chapman after he was not re-sworn for supporting a different candidate in the Republican primary during the previous local election.
Randall also said she would wait to hear from Chapman about his campaign proposal to put a sheriff’s deputy School Resource Office in every elementary school. Chapman and Randall’s Republican challenger, John C. L. Whitbeck Jr., first proposed that during supervisors’ Fiscal Year 2020 budget deliberations in January. Chapman had not asked the board for the funding to do that. The current board asked Chapman for a proposal to begin that process this year, but none was forthcoming; it wasn’t until June that the sheriff’s office laid out a $13 million proposal.
“If the sheriff believes that SROs are what we need to do in the school system for the safety of our children, let’s have that conversation, but if it is or if it was for a talking point for a campaign, that is not appropriate and should never happen,” Randall said. “So at some point, we will hear from the sheriff, and we’ll find out if that’s something that he believes should happen, or if that ended with the campaign yesterday.”
She also said the county board would be less reticent to get involved in some state and federal issues.
“I know that there are federal issues and state issues, but I am of the belief that almost every federal issue, and almost every state issue, can impact local politics,” Randall said.
Among the new faces at the press conference: supervisor-elect Juli E. Briskman, who first made headlines two years ago when a photo of her flipping off President Donald J. Trump’s motorcade from her bike went viral, and she was subsequently fired from her job at a federal contractor. With Tuesday’s victory, she unseated second-term supervisors Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) and in January will supervise the district containing the Trump National Golf Club along on the Potomac River.
“It was actually two years ago today that the story went viral that I had actually been fired from my job for expressing my opinion about this administration, and yesterday and last night, Algonkian District backed me up on that, and all of Loudoun County rejected soundly the entire Trump agenda,” Briskman said.
The only Republican to take part in the Wednesday morning forum was Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), who on Tuesday won a third term on the board by the largest margin of victory of any local Republican. He said he came “out of respect for the chair and my new colleagues, in the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation.”
“The campaign that I ran, and the issues that I ran on, were not partisan issues,” Letourneau said. “Traffic’s not a partisan issue. Development’s not a partisan issue. All of the things that we deal with at the board, really, and I think that’s what’s made being in local government so enjoyable, particularly in a time when the national dialogue is, honestly, for me, not very enjoyable.”
And he said is not very concerned about the new board.
“Everybody who runs for this local office, if they were running for any reason other than the fact that they want to work on local issues and improve the community, they’re going to find out right away that this is not the place to be,” Letourneau said. “Because when you’re sitting in a six-hour meeting dealing with a zoning ordinance, all of those big, national, partisan issues that people fight about are the furthest things from your mind.”