- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2003

LEESBURG (AP) — When Loudoun County voters on Tuesday abandoned the leadership they had elected four years ago to slow the county’s growth, they demonstrated more than just a change of heart. They revealed a county deeply divided by party ideology and geography.

In the populous eastern side of the county near Washington Dulles International Airport, voters elected six Republican candidates who promised to reverse or relax restrictions on home building imposed by the Board of Supervisors. Those voters complained that the board’s efforts to slow the march of subdivisions in rural western Loudoun had come at the expense of the more-crowded eastern communities.

Meanwhile, voters in picturesque western Loudoun turned out in such large numbers that they propelled to victory board Chairman Scott K. York, a contractor from Sterling who has become the face of the slow-growth movement. Voters there also elected two district supervisors who promised to keep the restrictions on growth.

The result pits the suburban east’s planned communities against the rural west, still home to horse farms and rolling estates.

“It’s just been so one-sided,” newly elected Dulles Supervisor Stephen J. Snow said, referring to the board’s efforts to preserve the rural character of western Loudoun. “The present board thought they had a mandate to impose everything they could upon the east. They found out that’s not the case, didn’t they?”

The current board was elected in 1999 on a pledge to slow home building. While supervisors reduced the number of homes that could be built in a 300-square-mile swath of western Loudoun, they declined to make sharp reductions in eastern Loudoun, citing what they called sound environmental and planning principles that call for directing building to existing communities rather than the countryside.

Mr. York’s narrow victory over Republican challenger Robert M. Gordon illustrates the county’s geographical divide over growth.

Mr. York, who ran as an independent, won all but two of 22 precincts in western Loudoun and Leesburg, and lost all but two of the 30 precincts in eastern Loudoun, where he lives.

A larger proportion of registered voters turned out in the west than in the east, which put Mr. York over the top, according to results released Wednesday after an early-morning count of absentee ballots.

Mr. York defeated Mr. Gordon by about one percentage point, and Mr. Gordon conceded the race Wednesday.


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