As an early lead-in to the local November elections including those candidates running for the Board of Supervisors, the Blue Ridge Leader interviewed local businessman John Whitbeck, who is running for Chair of the BOS.
John Whitbeck, candidate for Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, has been a resident of Loudoun for nearly 20 years. John and his wife have three daughters who attend public school in Loudoun County. He started his small business, Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, P.C., in Leesburg, a law firm where John practices family and mental health law. John is running for Chair to advocate for the local issues affecting Loudoun residents.
Blue Ridge Leader: What made you decide to run for Chair of the Board of Supervisors, and how does your past experience prepare you for this role?
John Whitbeck: I have been a resident of Loudoun County for almost 20 years. My wife Laura and I have three daughters who attend Loudoun public schools. As a small business owner and a member of numerous local organizations, both private and public, I have been intimately involved with the issues affecting our County.
I decided to enter the race for Chair because the issues affecting our elderly, our working families, and our children are important to my family. Issues like taxes, high tolls, land use, and school safety affect every resident of this county. This position is, I believe, the best place to make an impact and improve the quality of life of all Loudoun residents.
BRL: The Comp Plan 2019 dramatically increases housing densities, transfers land from the Rural Policy Area to the Transition Policy Area, and changes zoning to provide more land for data centers. Where do you stand on each of these issues?
JW: As Chair, I will be committed to a balanced plan for development that will put infrastructure first, provide more attainable housing for our elderly, working families, and the next generation, while preserving our open space in the west.
I am committed to preservation of our rural west. I support a transfer of development rights program that reduces the amount of “by-right” development in western Loudoun. My opponent led the effort to convert Rural Policy Area to the Transition Policy Area for greater density near the Town of Leesburg, and I will work to reverse that mistake.
My wife and I lived in an Affordable Dwelling Unit when we first moved to Sterling nearly 20 years ago, so when I say that I am committed to attainable housing, I mean it. The attainable housing that Loudoun had 20 years ago allowed me to start my family and business. I fear this type of opportunity no longer exists in Loudoun.
As for data centers, they have been an asset for Loudoun County, generating revenue to boost our economy and fund essential services, such as our education system. However, I will work to ensure data centers are placed in the right locations outside our Rural Policy Area and away from land better used for residential development.
BRL: How would you protect western Loudoun and the Transition Policy Area?
JW: I am committed to maintaining the character of our rural west. In order to do that, we need Supervisors that are committed to maintaining the Rural Policy Area as is. I support a transfer of development rights program, and I will also reverse the recent transfer of open space to high density housing around Leesburg.
I am also committed to a redistricting plan that ensures western Loudoun maintains two Supervisors on the Board that represent rural areas.
BRL: You proposed, along with Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman, to expand our School Resource Officer Program. Why?
JW: Our School Resource Officer Program is a nationally recognized program that protects our middle schools and high schools. It’s time we gave the same protection to our teachers, staff, and students in elementary schools.
Not only do these officers protect our schools, but they also develop a positive rapport between the community and the sheriff’s office. This is a crucial and often overlooked aspect of the program. As trained professionals, they are well equipped to assist administrators with bullying, behavioral issues, and other scenarios that are common in our schools.
BRL: Tell us something about yourself, something that people may not know, that makes you suited for this job.
JW: Mental health has been a passion of mine my entire career, spanning almost 20 years. As a mental health attorney, former Adjunct Professor of Mental Health Law, and former Special Justice for mental health cases, I have worked hard to ensure individuals have access to the care they need.
I ran a pro bono mental health clinic, which was so successful that the Fairfax Board of Supervisors took it over, and funded a full-time position in their County Attorney’s office. As Chair, I will bring this program to Loudoun.
Candidates rarely, if ever, campaign on mental health, and our elected officials are not doing enough to address this crucial issue. I will make this a major part of my work as Chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
Posted with permission from the Blue Ridge Leader.