With Census Results Rolling In, Local Redistricting Ahead

Loudoun County continued to rank as Virginia’s fastest-growing county over the past decade, and not by a little.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Loudoun grew by about 35% over the past 10 years. The next fastest-growing county in the commonwealth was New Kent County, which grew by 24.5% over the past decade—up to a population of 156,927, well under half of Loudoun’s reported 420,959 residents. Across the state, the population grew by 7.9% over the past decade, and the national average was 4.7% growth.

That was enough growth to catapult Loudoun into the fourth-place spot among Virginia’s most populous counties. And that growth happened mostly in a relatively concentrated area of eastern Loudoun, especially southeast Loudoun.

That growth will guide electoral politics in Loudoun for the next decade, as the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors this term will draw the new local election districts for the next county board and the School Board.

Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), whose district encompasses Dulles Airport and the southeastern corner of the county, said that will mean changes in the way Loudoun government thinks about its priorities.

“I do think that the part of the county that I have represented is underrepresented in terms of focus on the board,” Letourneau said. “That’s not necessarily anybody’s fault, but the population now is such that there’s going to have to be more attention paid to how those districts are drawn.”

The new districts will have to be roughly equal in population. That’s far from the case today.

The Blue Ridge District, considered a western district, in fact reaches from Loudoun’s western border to the edge of Dulles Airport and encompasses half the county by acreage. It is also the largest district by population, with an estimated 86,000 people, more than twice as many as the least populous district, Sterling, with 41,000 people.

Current districts can also look very odd to anyone going by their names. The area most people would consider “Ashburn” is in fact divided up between the Ashburn, Broad Run, Algonkian and even Dulles districts. And the Catoctin District, the county’s northwestern district with communities like Lucketts, Neersville and Hillsboro, wraps all the way around the Leesburg District to include River Creek to the east of town.

Those districts were drawn that way in 2010 at least in part to fold in enough population to put two western Loudoun supervisors on the county board. Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (D-Blue Ridge) has said he plans to ask the board to put two western supervisors on the board again, but that becomes more difficult the larger the difference in population between east and west.

Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said, “I’m not going to gerrymander for any reason, including gerrymandering for the purpose of getting two western Loudoun seats.”

“I think the numbers are the numbers, and you can only do so much with numbers,” Randall said. “One of the things that’s always bothered me a little bit about the way districts are drawn right now is, although we have two western Loudoun County seats, the way they’re drawn, no supervisor has to live in the west.”

Loudoun’s population changes and the new districts that follow, Letourneau said, will have to be reflected in how the county spends its money—such as on road projects. While the county has completed a long-running project to convert intersections on Rt. 7 to interchanges, relieving traffic through the northern part of the county, Rt. 50 in the county’s south remains snarled in long backups.

“It made sense to do that at the time—that’s where the population was, and that’s where we had traffic congestion,” Letourneau said. “The only thing that concerns me is that I don’t want the board to now lose focus on the fact that we have the same problem on Rt. 50, except arguably it’s worse.”

And for residents of the Dulles District today, he said, the county’s services are hard to find—they are centered in Leesburg and Sterling.

“It’s great to have a wonderful trail network, I’m all for it, but we have people with mental health needs in the South Riding area that we’re not meeting, because we’re not anywhere need them,” Letourneau said.

That’s reflected in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, which contains long-range plans to put a new government center—akin to the offices on Ridgetop Circle in Sterling, a miniature version of the services gathered at the central government building in Leesburg—in southeastern Loudoun.

State and federal guidelines for drawing new districts hold that communities with similar interests should be kept together. Letourneau said that’s not the case today.

“It’s always been preposterous that StoneSprings Hospital is not in the Dulles District, even though the people that it serves are across the street,” Letourneau said.

County supervisors have already made one decision on the new districts—there will still be eight districts and one chair-at-large voted on by the entire county. The county board plans to hear a report on the new census data in October, with a publicly available mapping tool launching on Nov. 1 and taking public submissions until Nov. 30. Supervisors plan to see a summary of possible scenarios on Jan. 18, 2022, and on March 15 choose which to send to a public hearing on May 11.

6 thoughts on “With Census Results Rolling In, Local Redistricting Ahead

  • 2021-08-20 at 6:28 pm
    Permalink

    As a Democrat I hate to say it, but Phyllis Randall is something of a disappointment (pulling my punches, to be sure). Not sure how we get her out and get a more dynamic, thoughtful Democrat in that position but she has one saving grace. She’s not a “guns-everywhere, we hate government (except for that check we’re counting on) crowd.

    • 2021-08-21 at 1:44 pm
      Permalink

      Grid – your post reminds me of the managers that say we need to fire John because he terrible and always making mistakes. I say OK I’ll let him go on Friday. To which the mgr responds no we need to find a replacement first, I cant do without him until them. My responses is always if you cant do without him we’re going to keep him, have a nice day.

      She is terrible by your own admission but you’ll keep her simply because of the D after her name.

      • 2021-08-23 at 7:49 am
        Permalink

        That’s just the thing tho, right? These days (because it wasn’t always true), even the worst Democrat is better to have in power than the best Republican. At least Democrats behave in good faith.

        • 2021-08-23 at 10:51 pm
          Permalink

          No, that’s not the thing that’s the problem. The worst D is not better than the best R. And the worst R is not better than the best D. Perhaps we can actually look at the candidate and get through the nonsense we’re in.

        • 2021-08-24 at 2:53 pm
          Permalink

          Because when Jenny Wexton dressed her staff up in fake cop costumes in campaign ads, she was acting in “good faith?”

          Or when democrats demanded we defund the police, before they claimed they never,ever, ever wanted to defund the police were acting in “good faith?” Even Phyllis had enough sense to not jump on that bandwagon.

  • 2021-08-22 at 7:40 pm
    Permalink

    Grids is so typical of Democrats. It’s not the issues or the quality of the person they are voting for, it’s all about who they vote against.
    In one high profile case, they’ve voted (maybe) for someone who has a 40+ year history of accomplishing nothing in political office, but they hated the other guy so much they were willing to have the country backslide and destroy the economy just to get their way.
    Also, it’s not the Republicans who are collecting those Government checks, I think you need to check your facts on that one, Grids.
    Finally, “Guns everywhere” is not the mantra of 99% of Republicans. I would venture to say that about 75% of Republicans don’t own guns, they just believe that a person should have the right to own one if they want. You may want the Government running every aspect of your life, but I sure don’t. I’m perfectly capable of handling my own business.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: