Leesburg Town Council member Ken Reid’s Web site ran a Thanksgiving week poll asking “Should Ken Run For Supervisor?” So far 61% of respondents have voted “Yes.”
While Ken is unlikely to base his decision on a very early, informal survey conducted during a period of low Web traffic, it is not too early to observe that the contest for that Board of Supervisors seat will be an interesting one. Ken would be a formidable candidate and an excellent addition to the Board, but the question right now is which community exactly would he have the opportunity to represent?
Board representation of the town of Leesburg is currently divided between two magisterial districts: Part of the town is in the Leesburg District and the other part in Catoctin District. With Leesburg having approximately 23,000 residents, it would seem reasonable to assume that next year’s redistricting might result in a Leesburg District encompassing the entire town plus some surrounding communities (it is estimated that the new census will require the revised Loudoun County districts each to include approximately 36,200 residents).
It makes sense, after all, that the entire town of Leesburg would be best represented as an entity rather than as two or more disparate communities divided among districts spanning town, residential suburbs and rural western areas as is currently the case.
We know that the population growth east of Route 15 will require a major redrawing of district boundaries with a new district likely added in the east, existing districts melded together with one or more likely defined out of existence. Depending on the result of 2011 gerrymandering in Loudoun, it is possible that Catoctin could dissolve into a broader Blue Ridge in the west and revamped sections in the east. By the same token, Leesburg District – currently represented by Kelly Burk, who has already announced her intention to run for a Board seat in 2011 – could continue to be partitioned such that there is no longer even a district called “Leesburg.”
No one knows yet how the redistricting will shake out, or to what extent Leesburg would need to be partitioned to preserve Ms. Burk’s seat on the Board. Would she be helped more by bringing the town under a single magisterial district, or by keeping it dispersed among two or more? There will be public information meetings held on December 4th and 8th (click here for details), and these would be good opportunities for Leesburg residents and other county residents to get updated on the process and express their views.
Leesburg residents would do well to review the County’s “Guidelines” for the 2011 redistricting process. Click here to download the document. You will see that guidelines include:
All districts must be compact and contiguous;
Preserve communities of interest; and
Do not split incorporated towns (when possible) – with the following explanation:
“Loudoun County’s incorporated towns should not be divided within the boundaries of any town. It should be possible to maintain all towns intact, except perhaps the Town of Leesburg.”
Surely there is some logic for denying that Leesburg deserves to be treated as a community of interest. The residents of Loudoun County’s largest town should ask to hear it.
For my part, I vote “Yes” on Ken Reid running for a Board of Supervisors seat even though he would not be representing me directly. Ken has long been a voice of reason and fiscal restraint on matters related to Dulles Rail and the boondoggle that is WMATA – a topic which I believe deserves more sunlight upon it. In the next year I believe more and more Loudoun residents will be concerned about the financial condition of our county, and important decisions will need to be made on how the proposed Metro stops here will be funded.
We all need to look carefully at how WMATA operates. Here is something Ken wrote over five years ago:
Why is Metrorail so expensive?
Because Metro does not practice (or even consider) competitive tendering of labor, nor does it bother to outsource much of its work, as do other transit systems. About 75% of Metro’s annual operating costs are union wages and benefits, but unlike Fairfax Connector and other union shops, Metro’s salaries and benefits are out of sight …
WMATA pays rail operators an average of $67,000 a year, $58,000 for bus drivers and $72,000 for transit police. This is more than the average for Fairfax County teachers, police officers and Virginia State Troopers.
In the years since Ken wrote that, all of the WMATA numbers have gotten much bigger, and Loudoun County has gone over $100 million into the red. We need more voices of reason – like that of Ken Reid – on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.