Katz: Accountability is on the ballot

As election season nears completion, voters have much to consider. I entered this race to lead the county, which has veered dangerously off track, and do the right thing for you, your kids and future generations. The great thing about doing the right thing is that it’s the always right thing to do. I think many of us in Loudoun would agree they’d like to see more of that being done.

So what went wrong? Years ago, Phyllis Randall seemed to be an idealistic Democratic candidate who was sincere in her convictions. Today, after eight years in power, she has succumbed to the cynical corruption that all too often plagues longtime politicians: lying to the press, doing favors for cronies at taxpayer expense, and blaming everyone else when she gets caught. She has spread that corruption to her colleagues on the board, while undermining the ability of the county’s professional staff to do their job.

When others try to hold her accountable, Ms. Randall attacks them. WJLA’s investigative reporting was decried as “yellow journalism”. Loudoun Now was accused of racism after it ran an article, an editorial and a cartoon criticizing her lavish spending. Supervisor Umstattd was accused of “grandstanding” by Ms. Randall’s allies after attempting to tighten travel policies, all while a parliamentarian trick was used to quash the motion. The message is clear: if you disagree with Ms. Randall, or dare attempt to hold her accountable, then you’re the problem.

This level of fraud, waste, and abuse does not happen in a vacuum. Many could have blown the whistle, but didn’t. A sign of an unhealthy organization is the silence of its people in the face of wrongdoing. This is often the result of a pervasive culture of fear and failure of leadership to instill values of honesty, integrity, transparency, and strong moral fiber.

It is all too much. Ms. Randall has betrayed the public trust, disgraced the office she holds, and failed to lead. As such, this election may be one of the most consequential in our county’s history. If she prevails, then the kleptocracy will continue. It will further signal to the board, and by extension the entire county, that self-serving lies are the order of the day in Loudoun.

Indeed, accountability is on the ballot.

Loudoun deserves better. We deserve to have leadership whom we can trust to do the right thing even — and especially — when no one is looking. It shouldn’t require gubernatorial executive orders, special grand jury reports, or media exposés to achieve transparency and accountability. This is why instituting an Office of the Inspector General is so critically important to a county with scandals across many of its divisions — another of which appears to be unfolding regarding fentanyl overdoses being covered up in our schools. Enough is enough.

Running for elected office is a rare honor and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so. If I am fortunate to prevail on Nov. 7, then I will put my skills working with state and local governments to use here at home for the betterment of Loudoun and its residents. I will lead with integrity and work hard to improve the quality of life for you and your families. Most importantly, I will listen to you, and serve with the principled leadership you deserve and of which you can be proud.

—Gary Katz

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