The Rural Summit – To Be or Not To Be?

On Friday, November 16, 2018. Loudoun County Chair Phyliss Randall will be conducting an all-day event billed as the Rural Summit at the Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg – the first rural summit since taking office January 1, 2016 with the new Board.

But this summit is not sitting well with the “Western” Supervisors Geary Higgins (Catoctin District) and Tony Buffington (Blue Ridge District).

“In the past two terms, my office in conjunction with the Blue Ridge office has sponsored three rural summits, and at each one of those summits we invited the chair or chairwoman to participate and speak at those rural summits,” Higgins said.

Higgins goes on to state that he was concerned that he and Buffington were invited to attend, but not participate. And, he pointed out, the person emceeing the event, Tia Walbridge, has declared she will run against Buffington in the 2019 election. NOTE: (After creation of this story, Ms. Walbridge announced her decision not to attend the event)

“It does appear, unfortunately, to have become a political event, and I think it’s unfortunate, because we’re missing a real opportunity where we could have made progress on some of these issues in western Loudoun County,” Buffington said.

The Rural Summit is also being organized using Randall’s office budget, which Higgins said may be an ethics violation.

So, what is actually happening here?  Is it petty whining by the Western Supervisors, who have not held any rural summits this term?  Will Supervisors Higgins and Buffington be taking some decisive action or are they merely going to continue to criticize others who are trying to get something done?  How can they both criticize Chair Randall without putting forward an alternative proposal for the Rural Summit?  Is this just another example of local resistance by two supervisors who are just not equipped to conduct county business in a timely manner because of the demands of their outside employment which is hindering their ability to represent their rural constituents?

It seems to us that maybe Chair Randall is tired of waiting for Supervisor Higgins to take action on the myriad of projects he seems to start but never follow up on. Whether you agree with the summit or not at least Randall is making an effort to do “something” for her constituents unlike Higgins who has let the Route 15 project drag on and on with no BEGINNING in sight. 5 months after funding approval and STILL no project plan from his office, yet he seems to have plenty of time to play political games with other supervisors who have been supportive of 15 improvements!

The Rural Summit will be addressing schools and transportation – in addition to the property rights of the farming community.  Why are these two supervisors not dealing with these pressing issues on their own rather than casting stones at Chair Randall who has initiated this summit?

Make no mistake, the continued delay of the start of the Route 15 widening project is a calculated decision by Supervisor Higgins who believes that if he delays long enough the community will forget about the whole thing and he can blame outside forces for losing the NVTA money which will be reallocated to other projects if not utilized here. It seems other Supervisors have finally caught on to his game and are taking matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, only Supervisor Higgins can move Route 15 improvements forward by producing a project plan. We urge you to contact his office and demand that he do so immediately.

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