Loudoun Supervisors Say Goodbyes at Term’s Final Meeting

County supervisors reflected on their past four years of service during the final meeting of their term Dec. 17. Four of the nine supervisors will not be returning in 2020.

 County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) lifted the normal time limits to let those members say their public goodbyes. Most remarked on the cooperative spirit of the board, despite differences in political party.

Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn), who chose not to run again, had tallied approximately the number of meetings he attended as a county supervisor.

“I estimate that I attended just under 3,000 meetings, so when people ask, ‘why are you retiring from this,’ do I have to say anything else?” Buona said. “It’s a big commitment, and for those of us up here, we understand the commitment behind this. But that commitment has a price tag, and that’s why I decided not to run for reelection.”

He recounted days at a time when he would not see his wife, who would be asleep by the time he got home from some meetings, or time missed with his four grandchildren. He also recounted positively his working relationship with the other eight supervisors, including Randall. He recalled that their first meeting was dominated by a fight over committee appointments.

“We did not start off on the right foot, we did not, but I think we really quickly came to respect each other,” Buona said. “We share a lot more in common than we don’t have in common. We probably voted the same on 90-plus percent of the issues, so you can’t let politics get in the way.”

Despite vigorous debate and party differences, the vast majority of votes on the Board of Supervisors have been unanimous. Split votes over the past four years were only sometimes split along party lines. Buona said his relationship with Randall “should be a model for what happens in Richmond and what happens in Washington.”

“We don’t always agree, but where we don’t, we figure it out. We compromise, we decide other ways to handle things,” Buona said. “But it has worked amazingly, and I consider you a friend. It’s been truly fun, and an honor to work with you.”

And with Metrorail stations planned to open early in the next board’s term, Buona said he considers his biggest accomplishment during his eight years on the board to be the vote to bring Metro into Loudoun.

“I just want to say thank you to my constituents, thank you to the county,” Buona said. “You have to remember in this position, you serve the people, you work for them. They don’t work for you. They put you here and they can take you out.”

Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) will also be leaving the board after losing her bid for a third term. She reflected on how Loudoun has changed since she first took office in 2012.

“Literally it was a different world eight years ago when Geary [Higgins], Ralph, Matt [Letourneau] and I came on the board,” she said. “We were coming out of the great recession. I’m sure then-Chairman Scott York looked at seven newbies coming onto the board, going, ‘oh my Lord.’”

She also reminisced on working with each of her colleagues on the board, and on the change in the board’s makeup to a Democrat majority.

“Moving forward, it’ll be a little different, having to serve the entire county, balancing the needs of the east, the west, the north, the south, all of that,” Volpe said. “It’s a great responsibility, the dramatic changes that have happened even in the last four years, and we’re still one of the fastest growing counties. … you have a lot on your plate, and it’s a heavy burden on your shoulders.”

Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), who will not be returning to the board next year after unsuccessfully running in the Republican primary for the 13th State Senate District seat, said a focus on national politics is a big reason for the country’s problems today. 

“Local government matters, and the more that we all focus on local government, the more harmonious all our communities will be,” Meyer said.

He held up Loudoun’s board as an example of bipartisan cooperation.

“Party drops off when you’re talking about land use, transportation, parks, public safety, and that’s where we need to be if we’re going to heal as a nation,” Meyer said. “If we’re going to heal extremism, that’s really where our focus needs to be.”

Meyer also thanked voters for making him the youngest-ever board member.

“Finally, I want to thank the voters of the Broad Run District, who had the courage to send a 26-year-old kid to the Board of Supervisors, the youngest in Loudoun history, to do a really important job,” Meyer said. “And I hope—my deepest hope—is that I made them proud.”

Randall predicted Meyer would be back in elected office at some point.

While other departing supervisors hailed the board’s bipartisan work, Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin), who is leaving after running unsuccessfully for state senate, attributed Loudoun’s lowering tax rates, growing business climate, high level of school funding and massive investments in roads to “good, solid, conservative leadership.”

Although unable to attend, as his daughter was having a child in North Carolina, Higgins sent a letter to the board, which Buona read aloud.

“Please don’t take the county’s successes for granted,” Higgins wrote. “As I said above, these things do not happen by accident. They happen with good governance, they happen with wise fiscal decisions, they happen with wise land use decisions, they happen with resisting the temptation to raise taxes with every good idea. One doesn’t have to look very far to see that all the jurisdictions around us have ignored economic development, run off business, and raised taxes.” 

With Buona and Volpe off the board, the longest-serving county supervisor will now be Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), who will enter his third term.

“I hope that this next board can be as productive as this one was, because when you look back at the totality of what this board has done, we got an awful lot done,” he said 

The next Board of Supervisors will begin its term with a formal swearing-in ceremony Jan. 4, and their first meeting Jan. 7 at 5 p.m.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

3 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Say Goodbyes at Term’s Final Meeting

  • 2019-12-24 at 9:02 pm
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    It’s pretty easy to find agreement when the “Republicans” on the BOS support a whopping 10% spending increase. This would make Nancy Pelosi proud. From adding $100M annual slush funds to the budget to censoring constituents who might disagree with them, many on this BOS are the absolute opposite of what ethical elected officials should be.

    They were (along with the economic development team) successful in bringing new business to Loudoun but much of that fell in their lap with the fortuitious location for datacenters. But when flooded with new tax revenues, did they return it to the people or pay off bonds? Of course not. They gave it to their friends in bureaucracy with massive raises. They have never turned down the chance to (needlessly) spend other people’s money.

  • 2019-12-27 at 12:18 pm
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    It is easy to self proclaim success especially when the top problems of the County were not openly listed nor regularly addressed. I hope the new board can be “honest” in addressing real problems and drop the self congratulatory behavior. TRAFFIC HAS GOTTEN WORSE, (RT 15, 9, 50, 7, 28), TAXES ARE 33% ABOVE MOST OF VIRGINIA, BLOATED LOCAL BUREAUCRACY, SCHOOL BULLYING AND SAFETY NOT ADDRESSED SERIOUSLY, ASSESSMENTS UNFAIR ESPECIALLY SMALL LOTS IN OVERLAY DISTRICTS, BURIAL OF GARBAGE NOT ADDRESSED, PLAZA STREET AREA STUDENTS TREATED UNFAIRLY AND LOUDOUN RESIDENT COMMUTERS TREATED UNFAIRLY. How about we start with a real list of issues and drop the courthouse statue, 100 year old grave sites and ALWAYS playing to the developers for a change. 🙂

  • 2019-12-31 at 3:01 pm
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    I guess some people, including a former elected writing here, expect so much and show such little gratitude except “thank you for your service” comments. It is a tremendous sacrifice to be a supervisor, councilmember or School Board member in a growing area! The county has a lot going for it, thanks in large part to these supervisors, three of whom I worked with regularly. Well, I wish to Thank you 4 profusely for the improved business climate, the new interchanges and road projects, and US 15 being improved . I am sure I forgot a lot of other accomplishments. I hope Geary, Ralph, Suzanne and Ron will all stay involved. Don’t be an “old soldier” and “fade away.” Or, a “young soldier” in Ron’s case 🙂 Each in your own way provided a lot of value to people over the years who don’t even realize it, but you did.

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