The proposals for Loudoun’s new local electoral districts have been published online—including three plans developed by sitting county supervisors.
In all there are 20 plans, including the example plans developed by county staff members, eight submitted by community members, a plan from the Coalition of Loudoun Towns, one from the Loudoun County Republican Committee, and proposals by Supervisors Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) and Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles).
The plans reflect a variety of philosophies on how voting power in Loudoun should be divided.
Both Buffington and Turner have sought to again create two western districts—an increasingly difficult thing to achieve as the difference in population between east and west continues to grow. In the current district configuration, the Blue Ridge District stretches from Hillsboro to Brambleton.
In Turner’s proposal, one large western and northwestern district would include all of Loudoun’s towns except for Leesburg—its own district, together with some communities neighboring the town—and Middleburg. The other district would draw most of its population from east of Rt. 15, stretching from Middleburg and to north of Beaverdam Creek. But most of its population would live in the suburban communities, including drawing much of its population from Brambleton.
“The only way you can keep two rural districts, my judgment, that make any sense at all is to include Brambleton,” he said.
That was also a common feature of submissions from the public that include two western districts.
In Turner’s plan, what today is the Sterling District, south of Rt. 7 on the eastern county border, would reach down across Dulles Airport to include a portion of South Riding.
“It’s pure math,” he said. “It’s a little tiny sliver. If we go any further west with Sterling, we really start stepping into interests that really are not Sterling-specific interests, and also simultaneously as stepping on several other supervisors’ communities of interest.”
Turner said for his map, he used the existing districts as a starting place. He also said his objectives were, first, to draw two western districts; second to keep Leesburg intact as a district; third to keep all of the Algonkian District north of Rt. 7 together; and fourth to keep either communities of interest or existing precincts together.
“It was an interesting exercise,” Turner said. “The tools that county staff put together were really, really helpful, so that has really made the process better. We’ll see where the horse trading ends up.”
Buffington’s proposal takes a different approach, resembling in parts a staff proposal that would see one supervisors elected from the county’s Transition Policy Area that buffers rural west and suburban east. One western district would include every town except Leesburg, and another reaching from Lucketts, west around Leesburg, south following much of Evergreen Mills Road and including Willowsford and part of Brambleton, and then turning east to include southeastern Loudoun south of Braddock Road. Leesburg would remain together in a district.
Buffington was not immediately available for comment.
Letourneau’s proposal takes a different approach. Once again there would be a single large western district, including almost all of Loudoun west of Rt. 15. Another Leesburg District would reach north on the east side of Rt. 15, and south of Leesburg an “Evergreen” District again generally follows Evergreen Mills Road and the Transition Policy Area including Brambleton.
“Starting from Leesburg going all the way down to the southern border, you do have a lot of similarity of communities … communities that have a lot of common interests, and we frequently hear the same sort of things from those residents,” he said.
He, too, ran into difficulties balancing the district populations around Brambleton—“it’s got so many people in it that any district that you put in it with another major HOA, you’re going to have population problems.”
The southeastern Dulles District would be somewhat consolidated, removing some of the areas north of Dulles Airport from the district, with the Sterling District gaining those areas. That, he said, was to try to put all of the Loudoun Valley Estates neighborhood in one district, where it is currently divided.
“The main goal that I had was trying to keep as many communities of interest together as possible, and in doing so the difficulty is always with the specific HOAs and their lines,” Letourneau said. “So we really went as far as we could to try to keep pretty much every major HOA in the county within a single district.”
With the proposals now published online, the county is soliciting comment from the public ahead of the Board of Supervisors’ first meeting on those proposals, expected Jan. 18.
An online viewer provides access to all of the submitted plans. The plans and other data are also on the county’s Redistricting Hub. Feedback can be offered through an online comment form. The county board’s adopted redistricting guidelines and other information are at loudoun.gov/redistricting.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to narrow down its options at its Jan. 18 meeting and refer a short list of plans to the county staff members for more work. The board is expected to hear about that work again in February, and select a single plan in March to send to a public hearing in May before final adoption.