John Whitbeck, candidate for Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, faced his opponents incumbent Chair Phyllis Randall and Bob Ohneiser on Wednesday night in their first debate. Hosted by Coalition of Loudoun Towns, Loudoun Times-Mirror, and Loudoun Now, the debate featured questions submitted by Loudoun residents largely concerning issues of development and preservation.
During the debate, Whitbeck repeatedly pointed out that “land use in this campaign has become about trust.” Whitbeck referred to Randall’s vote to reclassify rural land for the purpose of building higher density housing.
On June 20, 2019, before the final vote to approve the Comprehensive Plan, Chair Randall admitted, “When we started this process, I said we wouldn’t touch the rural policy area. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Chair Randall said her entire term that she would protect the Rural Policy Area, then she voted to build high density housing in what was our rural area,” said Whitbeck.
The issue of partisanship was also discussed. Whitbeck was asked about his role as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. Whitbeck responded by expanding upon his commitment to the community he has served for 20 years.
“I have 20 years of experience at the local level serving as a substitute judge, on the criminal justice board, and on the government reform commission.”
Randall followed by attacking Whitbeck for other candidates that have run for office as Republicans and for organizations closely associated with the Republican Party.
“Ladies and Gentleman, the definition of partisan politics,” Whitbeck responded.
“This was one of the most defining moments of the night,” said Whitbeck for Chairman spokeswoman Sarah Porter. “On a question about keeping partisan politics away from the board, Phyllis Randall launched into an attack line about every republican not named John Whitbeck.”
“Randall has chosen her partisan strategy for re-election while Whitbeck has taken the high road,” concluded Porter.
In closing statements, Whitbeck brought up his plans to fight for lower tolls. Loudoun residents had shown up to protest Randall’s vote for higher tolls ahead of the debate holding signs that said “Phyllis Randall = Higher Tolls.”
On January 2, 2019, Loudoun’s board of supervisors voted to reject the Greenway’s plan for annual toll increases until 2056. The only member of the board that supported the Greenway on this motion was Phyllis Randall.
“I have said throughout the entire campaign that one of the biggest mistakes was Chair Randall’s vote for guaranteed annual toll increases until 2056.”
The next debate for the candidates for Chairman of the Board of Supervisors will be held October 22, just two weeks before election day on Tuesday, November 5.