In a recent column, I noted that the Democratic Party appeared to be having trouble coming up with candidates for some local races, and wondered if they would even field a full slate.
Since then, they have made only a small amount of progress. Denise Moore Pierce has announced that she is running for Supervisor in the Algonkian District against Republican Suzanne Volpe.
However, as I write this, the Democrats do not yet have an announced challenger for Sheriff, Treasurer, Commissioner of the Revenue, or the Blue Ridge District seat on the Board of Supervisors.
Furthermore, and perhaps most significantly, the Democratic Party does not have challengers for many seats in the Virginia General Assembly, including several of the seats representing Loudoun County in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. This is extremely disappointing, because voters simply deserve to have a choice, especially since the elections across Virginia will decide which party will control each of the two legislative bodies.
Sheriff Steve Simpson is an independent who left the Republican Party. He will face opposition from a Republican, but it appears increasingly unlikely that the Democrats will field a candidate in that race. If the race boils down to a choice between a Republican candidate and the incumbent, it will boil down to a referendum on Simpson’s performance.
Treasurer Roger Zurn and Commissioner of the Revenue Robert Wertz, both Republicans, are also running unopposed so far. Historically, races for these offices don’t usually draw much attention from the media, or interest from the voters.
I believe this is partly due to the fact that most people don’t know much about what these two constitutional offices do. I’ll have to admit, it is a little confusing. Even after two decades working in the county government, I was still sometimes unsure whether a particular function was a responsibility of the Treasurer, the Commissioner of the Revenue, or the Department of Management and Financial Services, which reports to the County Administrator.
From time to time, someone raises the suggestion that these offices should be merged and consolidated under the Department of Management and Financial Services, as a means of streamlining government.
I don’t know if this would result in any efficiencies. But eliminating these two constitutional offices would involve changing Loudoun County’s form of government, which would require a voter referendum. Absent a compelling reason for such a change, it’s hard to see that ballot initiative materializing.
Zurn and Wertz have both held their respective offices for several years, and both have avoided controversy or, worse, scandal. So it’s not entirely surprising that candidates aren’t lining up to throw their hats in the ring for either of those races.
The Blue Ridge District is the only district remaining without a Democratic candidate for the Board of Supervisors. Incumbent Blue Ridge Supervisor Jim Burton, an independent who is running for re-election, was formerly a Republican, but has been more closely allied with Democrats in recent years. He will be opposed by Republican candidate Janet Clarke.
The Democratic Party may well be satisfied with Burton, who has represented his district and served the county very well during his tenure on the Board of Supervisors.
In one respect, it would be fitting if no Democratic challenger steps forward to run in the Blue Ridge District. In my opinion, the party owes Burton a vote of thanks for taking the controversial Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act off the table during this election year.
Burton was roundly criticized, especially by environmentalists, when he changed his position and cast the swing vote in May to suspend discussions on amendments to the act, at least temporarily, earlier this year.
When the Board was discussing the act last year, it seemed to me that the Republican opponents of the act relished the prospect of using the issue to beat up Democrats in 2011. Burton may have disarmed them when he cast the deciding vote to shelve the issue.
In particular, this could help incumbent Democrats Andrea McGimsey and Kelly Burk as they seek re-election in November. For this and other reasons, I wouldn’t blame the local Democrats if they give their tacit support to Burton.
However, the General Assembly races are another matter. As it stands now, Republican Senator Jill Vogel and Delegates Thomas A. Greason, Joe T. May, James M. LeMunyon and Tom Rust are all running without opposition.
I hope that voters have more choices by the time of the November 8 election.