The Biggest Mistake Of My Life …

By Loudoun Insider

… was moving to Loudoun County Virginia and getting involved in politics.

When I moved here Loudoun had just enacted strict rural zoning and seemed to be led by reasonable people.  Me being a fan of the countryside this seemed like a good match.

I should have done a bit more homework before settling here.  That rural zoning was quickly tossed aside and a band of developer whores took over the county government.

This is a horribly planned county with the horrendous traffic and taxes that come with super-heated residential growth explosions.  And on top of that we have some of the most vile self-dealing self-promoting a-hole politicians and political operatives that I have ever come across.  Watching some of those a-holes make a mockery of good governance got me involved.

While myself and others have done some good, it really hasn’t changed things much in the grand scheme of things.  Just take a look at the current Board of Supervisors to see what I’m talking about.  And after thinking getting rid of the 2003-2007 majority would put things back on track, the crew that took over was full of some huge disappointments as well.  So much so to the general voting public that they were demolished in the next election, giving us the current crop of “leaders”.

They don’t call Loudoun LoCo for nothing.

By far the biggest frustration is the shocking level of voter and citizen apathy.  This is supposed to be one of the most highly educated counties in the nation.  Yet take a good hard look at the people that have been elected to represent this county.  Not exactly inspiring.

I thought that this would be a hotbed of active interested citizens working to keep a quality way of life and a respectable government.  Boy have I been sorely disappointed.  Sure there are a few folks who do their part but they are far too few to really make anything happen.  Much of this is due to past frustrations I am sure, just like what I am feeling now.  And don’t even get me started on the local press.

To anyone considering moving to Loudoun County, I offer this sage advice, born of experience.  Don’t do it.


  • liz says:

    Do yourself a favor before you move away again and check out the local newspaper and news sites where you’re moving. ‘Cause, honey, it’s the same all over.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    LI – I don’t think anyone else in the County has the intestinal fortitude to do what you do. Look what you do did in 2007, you got the voters in Loudoun to give a shit. The bottom line is no matter how hard the LCRC establishment has tried to knocked you off the horse, you always come back stronger. Don’t let the bastards get you down and remember, they are ALL bastards.

  • wannawin says:

    Interesting side line to this post: apparently an economics prof at UMd has entoned that MD is not business-friendly as is VA.

    Hmmm. Perhaps not. But consider that OUR politicians don’t chase away business because they get campaign donations from the crony capitalism they practice ever so diligently.

    Then the Chamber (of horrors — ha ha) weights in to inform us of which candidates running for public office are the most favorable to ‘business.”

    Whose ‘business’? Lining the pockets of developers, contractors, and other well-heeled donors? Are the Chambers of Commerce stepping up to assist family farmers, small mom & pop stores owners, non-chain restaurateurs, and the like. Not so much.

    Check out VPAP for the info on donors who support the crony capitalists among us. Many who are presumed to be GOP-friendly are not quite making that cut, IMHO.

    Thus as to the original post: No, do not move. It is just time to clean house & toss out all those money-changers that have infected the people’s business. LoCo still has a fighting chance; FxCo is in a pickle, as it keeps sucking back that poisonous potion spewing from the leftist who domininate.

    Just sayn’.

  • liz says:

    Um…Mr. Wannawin? You may want to check VPAP on just who really gets more money from which donors. Like, say, OpenBand and MC Dean, and a lack of recusals from the folks they donate to.

  • liz says:

    Hint: It ain’t Democrats.

  • liz says:

    And oops! It just occurred to me that you might be Ms. Wannawin. See how even lefties like me can be unconsciously sexist?

  • So Right says:

    Ignorance is bliss, LI.

    Stop paying atttention like the politicians and elites want and you’ll feel better.

  • Leej says:

    I agree LI. Loudoun could of had it all.

    We designed and built the first homes in Ashburn farms in the late eighties. As you all know the castle homes. We had custom cabinets and wood work in those homes. Unheard of in that price range. I brought with me many excellent craftsmen from Texas.
    Because of the savings and loan crisis. Then a major recession happened to start about 1990, but of nobody in DC believed it. I moved to the beach then in southern California at Marina Del Rey. We had possibly the best years of our lives for almost 10 years my kids going to grade school and middle school at a public school in Santa Monica for the theater and arts which Dalyn also taught at. It was magical. We left california for another try at the DC area because the recession in California was hurting us financially. And the boys were about to enter high school.

    Did very well in the dc area first part of the 2000’s. Then thew recession hit hard in the end of the 2000’s. And as you all know moved back to Texas splitting my time between Austin and Houston. Houston has moved foreword in infrastructure that works better then most places especially the DC area. Landscaping the secondary roads and highways beautifully. Hell Loudoun can’t even fix waxpool and they are going to put a band aid on it instead of heart surgery? And I certainly don’t call eastern Loudoun having decent zoning building data and industrial willy nilly and horrible landscaping to boot. Only decent looking areas are the developer puds and hopefully all the new town centers will bring some decent design unlike the developer puds that you can’t tell one home from another. And I don’t understand why anyone buy a multi million dollar tract home from toll brothers with generic interiors and exteriors. Instead of having had it custom designed and built. I have designed many homes in the DC area which are true custom inside and out. Many you can’t see on large tracts of land in McLean, Potomac MD Great falls , western Loudoun and just all around the DC area.

    Anyway I can’t believe how the leaders of Loudoun have let the not so good developers ruin Loudoun. Loudouns zoning sucks.

    And actually Sterling park and Herndon are moving in the right direction instead of going backwards like most of Loudoun.

    I don’t see the rail doing much for loudoun only crowding one of the worse secondary road systems in the country with very little help for the road system to improve in the foreseeable future. The rail will be a financial nightmare for loudoun and it could of connected into the rail are a much cheaper price and I don’t want to offend anyone but that is what government thinking gets you. Build things for 2 to five times the price private enterprise could do it for. And most government contractors in my opinion are NOT real private contractors. They still have to work with the flawed government thinking. The money is getting close to be cutting off soon in a big way in government the worst is yet to come. What is good for DC is mostly horrible for the average tax payer.

  • vacliff says:

    Could it be better? Yes. But Loudoun county is still a damn fine place to live and raise a family.

  • BTownite says:

    Speak for yourself Cliff, you aren’t represented by Janet Crazy Clarke.

  • LowdowneVA says:

    LI, are you paraphrasing Samuel Adams?

    “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
    — Samuel Adams

    It’s time for the rest of us to thank you profusely for your service and act on the information you dig up. We forget that newspapers are businesses that exist to make a profit, not to permit the rest of us to stand idly by, keeping safe rather than expending the energy to go and observe our democracy in action.

    You are not even a business, but someone so passionate about the quality of government that you spent your time and effort in its defense.
    As we all should, simply because we are lucky enough to be Americans. Thank you for all you have done to educate me. I am today redoubling my efforts to make government serve the people rather than the other way around. No wonder your blog is always a more valuable read than the so-called local newspapers.
    No one seems sure who said “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” but it is. No one else will do it for us.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    Loudoun has turned into a crazy reality show train wreck. Fairfax got smart and they drove the corrupt developers etc out of their County straight into in Loudoun.

    Yes Loudoun is a nice place to live and raise a family. If you don’t mind the insane traffic congestion, sky rocketing taxes, paying $11 a day in tolls to get to your job. Or the numerous self-entitled people, who have a “me first” mentality. Who are often sanctimonious-judgmental (who espouse their Christianity and are typically the least Christian people I have ever met). These same people that have a running list of folks “who owe them”. Case in point, look at the Government Reform Commission, that is cast of characters whom optimize my a fore mention description of a typical power hungry loudounite.

    Hell we are thinking about moving to PG County to escape the madness that has become Loudoun.

  • TCJohnson says:

    “Could it be better? Yes. But Loudoun county is still a damn fine place to live and raise a family.”

    I don’t know. I am just starting a family (a pair of twins only 7 months old.) I am really thinking of moving out of the county because I am worried about the school system here.

  • LowdowneVA says:

    Why does that plan sound like retreating from cowards? Is someone in Prince George’s waiting to make it what you want? What will they want from you for doing that?

    Government BY the people means you play an active role, not hang back passively while somebody else fights for your rights.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    Lowdown, No it’s not retreating. The only reason PG is attractive is its close proximity to my work, I could “gamble” and it has substantially lower taxes. The corruption is more under control, based on the take down of both Johnsons. But this madness in Loudoun has no end it sight and the GOBGN is a live and kicking. Sick of the crap in Loudoun and I am getting sick of the people.

  • Leej says:

    Baron “””” Or the numerous self-entitled people””””””

    Boy does that wring a bell with me and my numerous friends that visited over the years. Don’t get me wrong but a lot of the government people and contractors sure have that attitude. Of course many are don’t have that attitude. But this self entitlement is extremely evident in Loudoun compared to all the places I have lived. 😉 Including Los Angeles and Hollywood. 😉 The education my kids got in high school in Loudoun was very generic and boring compared to Santa Monica. I hate saying bad things about Loudoun, but it has become a town of entitled most being paid from the american taxes one way or another. Yet I have many friends there most do not have much to do with the government.

    I am designing at the moment a large home for one of the top people of a fortune 500 company in the DC area and his business has almost nothing to do with government. And this is the third home I have designed for them. 🙂

    Barbra Munsey is one of the few people I respect back there or at least entertained by. Especially the stories she tells about her daughter. Unique in Loudoun county 🙂 I guess because my boys are somewhat like her daughter. ha ha ha

    And again I am not trying to offend anyone there. 😉

    LI we could use a personality like you and your beautiful wife here in Texas especially in Austin. Let me and Dalyn show some big Texas hospitality if you come out this way. Life is excellent here. 🙂

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Who knows, Lee, maybe we’ll see you there one day!

    My biggest frustration isn’t so much the shitty politicians – that’s pretty much standard, it’s the severe voter apathy and citizen ignorance when it comes to civil affairs that gets me the most. With the general level of intelligence of this citizenry you would think we could do better. But everyone is too busy with everything else.

    I can’t tell you how many hours I have wasted on this BS. Far too many. But the biggest thing that keeps me going is the thought that no one else will do it if I stop. Sure, you know where to go to get party hacks bashing one side or the other, but they are almost all silent when it comes to their own party. I must say, however, that I was pleasantly surprised with the LCRC uprising against Metro. But of course the GOBGN won the day.

    I should have found a nice place in northern Fauquier County when I was looking to move into NOVA. Slow growth common sense Republicans run the show there with very little in the way of Delgaudio-style nonsense or PHC-Farris-Black morality police BS. Growth is minimal and so are the taxes, with lots of nice countryside. I definitely made the wrong choice.

  • Loudoun's Soul says:

    Actually, with the extension of VRS ever closer to Fauquier and the BRAC decision to move jobs out of Crystal City and down to Quantico, Fauquier is poised to be the next Loudoun.

    If you watch the rezonings that are coming in the last few months and the Board’s willingness to actually entertain some of them seriously, you can see where this is heading. The only advantate Fauquier has is starting out with more land already in easement and a voter-supported PDR program.

    Yes, your last decade would have been more peaceful, but the next decade is likely to be more of the same.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I really don’t think Fauquier will ever be as bad as Loudoun. Of course I could be wrong (I was wrong about Loudoun!).

  • BlackOut says:

    The grass is always greener on the other side.

  • Malcolm Baldwin says:

    I appreciate your perspective, LI, and your engagement in Loudoun’s affairs that has often proved fruitful and important.

    Loudoun politics reflects a host of unusual complexities. We’re at the edge of the nation’s most dynamic and stable economies, albeit shaped primarily by the federal government and the private investment it stimulates. So we have land development interests profiting from rapid growth and continued sprawl, which disrupts traditional life, and farms, and breeds rapidly rising costs of government

    Given Virginia’s history of weak local government, unlike town government in the North East, Loudoun lacks adequate powers to manage its growth. That breeds civic frustration. Meanwhile, Loudoun retains a traditional element favorable to evangelical and libertarian perspectives, and low taxes, evident now in western Loudoun. But with the influx of newer, more liberal residents we have regular political flux and inevitable political and cultural conflict.

    Our political debate gets nasty, and it discourages many good folk to run for office, although perhaps the same can be said elsewhere in the nation. While I experienced some of that, I remain happy to have tried; rewards outweighed the punishment!

    We mustn’t give up on Loudoun. Political conflict is a fact of life here that I hope younger folks than I will constructively embrace. Low turnout remains a vexing problem. So does the need for a more investigative, analytical local press, and for more readers to attend it. Western Loudoun’s values remain unique and important to manage well.

    My hope is that somehow Loudoun politics can, with the encouragement of TC, refocus far more on issues than on events and personalities. That will bring a more civil debate that has been sorely lacking.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Thanks for your words, Malcolm. There has been talk of others putting together a more issues-oriented blog. I will once again encourage them to do so. You would be an excellent contributor to such a site.

    I spend way too much time on this stuff as it is and just don’t have the time to write in-depth analytical blog posts. Unfortunately personalities are a huge part of politics and we have some horrible ones in public office and running the political machines behind the scenes. My specialty has been exposing the BS of horrendous “public servants”. I do so irreverently and with as much humor as I can. TC has always been a bit sensationalistic and I try to make it a fun stop for people. I write enough dry technical stuff for work, this is a different kind of outlet.

    There absolutely is a need for a more civil debate, but please don’t blame me for making things uncivil. I merely react to the nonsense that is committed by out elected “leaders”. If things were run in a professional respectable manner I wouldn’t have much to complain about, would I? Unfortunately this supposedly well educated well off county elects some of the most petty and craven politicians I have ever seen.

    If people want a more issues focused blog, the blogosphere is wide open. Several local blogs have started in the last year only to wither away after a couple months. Realloudoun has been a good addition, but is sporadic and the lack of commenting makes it a less vibrant outlet. As I have been saying, it is well past time for others to step up to the plate.

  • Joe Budzinski says:

    Speaking here from the environs of the Future Crown Jewel of Loudoun County, Sterling Park, I simply cannot share your pessimism, although your frustration is totally understandable.

    (As I have said more than once, you should start your own blog and charge for advertising, you might feel better about your work if you got some money for it).

    The notion that there are well-governed locales where the political debate is edifying and stimulating, that you could move to, might prove disappointing. Having lived in a variety of areas around the country, that has been my experience with local and state government.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I have been involved and very informed in political matters everywhere I have lived, and I pay attention to surrounding localities as well. Loudoun has a reputation statewide as a planning disaster and a political hell hole. It’s well deserved. Yes other localities have their problems too, but this place ranks near the bottom of the cesspool in many areas that are important to me.

  • BlackOut says:

    Delgaudio has a knack for taking that the distasteful portion of our reputation nationwide.

  • LoudouninNC says:

    “Loudoun has a reputation statewide as a planning disaster and a political hell hole.”

    That’s why I got out of politics and went to school for planning. A good chunk of my research and writing in grad school was geared toward preventing future Loudouns.

  • At least Eugene Delgaudio keeps things, uh, “entertaining” for the rest of us in the NOVA region! LOL

  • Leej says:

    LoudouninNC you are destined to be a great planner 🙂 Glad to see someone with vision and sees Loudoun as NOT a well planned county which it could of been. A little story I met with Cliff (planning commisioner then) and some county traffic guy at Panera Bread last year. I drew a a grade separated intersection that I beautifully designed 🙂 at countryside BLVD and rt 7. Their lack of vision was comical at what I drew. Basically saying it would never happen..

    This was a chance to get Lerner to build this interchange in exchange for approval of their new town center. It also shows the lack of insight of our last board for approving this town center without getting a major interchange which is destined to become a nightmare in the future.

    Just shows the kind of people without correct vision or any vision that are in power planning our county. Just like the lack of vision to tie shellhorn into the rt 28 and sterling blvd a 30 million half used interchange or the brain deads that designed the the rt 28 and waxpool interchange. And taking out the right hand turn lanes at pacific and LCP when they widened waxpool
    that is 101 planning to have those right hand turn lanes.

    “Loudoun has a reputation statewide as a planning disaster and a political hell hole.” Joe when you look at who is planning Loudoun both professionally and as planning commissioners doing their so called community service which I call that title mostly a joke in Loudoun . And of course the politicians in Loudoun you end up with a nightmare.

    High school and collage students can do a better job in planning Loudoun then what has and is happening to loudoun today.

    What is really funny the core of downtown DC is a extremely well planned hundreds of years ago by Pierre-Charles
    L’Enfant’s in 1791. What has happened to the DC suburbs is a is a crime and insult to Pierre’s original vision for DC only western Loudoun has kept some of it’s character.

  • Leej says:

    Move over LA Austin NYC and DC according to forbes Houston is to coolest city in the nation 🙂

  • Elder Berry says:

    Part of the problem with Loudoun is the state that it’s in. Richmond is owned by the developers just as much as Loudoun is. Local governments do not have the powers they need to really manage development pressure. Fauquier does hold the developers feet to the fire more than Loudoun does and their concept of service districts along with sliding scale zoning prevented a lot of grid-sprawl across their county.

    Leej, I think its funny that you compare a middle-income suburb like Ashburn with Santa Monica, one of the most expensive places to live in the US in one of the heaviest taxed states! I also think its funny you think everyone should be living in custom built houses. Aren’t you one of the people who call Democrats elitists?

  • LoudouninNC says:

    Thanks LeeJ, though I’ve taken my planning knowledge and appetite into the world of affordable housing the past few years. I’m moving toward eventually being my own ‘evil’ developer, except motivated by Loudoun’s failings and what I learned through planning school/experience. I sat on the planning board of the Town of Carrboro, NC for a little while, which was a refreshingly far cry from LoCo.
    My tendencies in development are more toward adaptive reuse and infill development, which are regretfully not a big part of the push in Loudoun.

  • vacliff says:

    Hey Lee-
    And that was a very good plan you had!

  • Leej says:

    Thanks Cliff and sorry to sound so frustrated over the fact that Loudoun didn’t get a interchange from Lerner in the approval of their town center. Missed opportunity for Loudoun. The beauty of my design it wold of looked good because rt7 would go under countryside and fairly simple because rt 7 goes downhill quite a bit there.

    And it would take no land from private land owners except a little bit from Lerners town center and it would of been not enough to hardly affect if at all.

    So much easier to get things and beautiful designs done in Texas 😉 And far cheaper

  • Leej says:

    I will add my design has been done in Norfolk Virginia beach area as well as many parts of the USA, yet is fairly old yet is a beautiful for the surrounding residential neighborhoods in Norfolk. A phenomenal way to get non stop traffic thru a sensitive residential area. 🙂 It would of been a great solution to the countryside / rt seven intersection and very little intrusive the roads are at below and at ground level compared to most interchanges. Well you can see traffic engineers how they think when you see the monstrosities they have built including the Springfield interchange and waxpool and rt 7. You can still save the roads around the Loudoun metros by getting shellhorn to the rt 28 sterling interchange and another road close to the south side of the greenway to rt 606.. Right now that proposed road system around our metros i is a maze and a disaster waiting to happen. And you could of got a straight shot to shellhorn from leesburg via sycolin but the braindeads on the last BOS ruinewd that when they approved that apartment or condo complex at shellhorn and waxpool. I also sent them drawings how that could be done. No response. Too late now. You will just have the traffic from the west all dumping onto waxpool if you don’t take the greedway and using the broadlands as a cut thru. Too difficult to gate the broadlands like gating my old neighborhood which they are looking at at this very moment and most likely do which should of been done years ago when I suggested it and warned the HOA the Regency will become a major traffic cut thru as it now has become soon to become a million times worse. I guess the civilians that take power over the hoa’s and know zero about planning are like little kids that have to be burned to know they need a another correct approach before they get burned again.

  • Leej says:

    rt 28 and waxpool interchange is what I meant to say. sorry

  • Ellie Lockwood says:

    Loudoun Insider seems to be in danger of breaking his/her arm patting him/her self on the back for all of his/her activism. He/she is hanging out with the wrong crew.

    I’m relatively new to LoCo but I’ve met people who are incredibly involved and expending hours of free time working on trying to make difference. I’d find it more motivating if these blogs, which do have valuable information, focused less on what individual elected leaders are doing/not doing in the opinion of the bloggers, and more on what does/does not need to be done. IMHO 😉

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I am not patting myself on the back, I am expressing frustration. Yes there are activists in this county, but most of them are blind party hacks or single issue activists. And to many are preoccupied with hanging out with the proper crew, and too worried about being seen as “hanging out with the wrong crew” as you accuse me of doing. There’s way too much of the junior high school clique BS in this county, and it looks like you’ve bought right into it.

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