Less than 24 hours before the Loudoun Board of Supervisors is set to vote on whether Metro’s Silver Line extends beyond Dulles International Airport to Ashburn, opponents of the project stepped up pressure on Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) and Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian).
Both were considered to be leaning against the project at one point, but have since offered more conciliatory comments. And both are specifically identified on the Loudoun Opt Out website. Reminding Reid of his past statements and past employer, members of group spoke during the board’s public input session Monday directly to Reid.
, several years ago, Reid co-founded notollincrease.org with Chris Walker, a developer who died in 2011. Walker constructed the 1 Dulles Corridor building in Fairfax, which he struggled to lease. The building sits near the Dulles Toll Road/Hunter Mill interchange where planners declined to place a rail station. Walker, at some point, became an opponent of the rail project. Walker also gave Reid $3,500 for his campaign for supervisor.
“Mr. Reid, I spoke with the widow of the late Chris Walker. She asked me to remind you that he gave and gave and gave working with you and many others to protect the public from this push to burden taxpayers to benefit a few special interests,” said Loudoun Opt Out spokesman David LaRock in a statement his wife had to finish because of time limits on speakers. “Mrs. Walker asked me to ask you to please do what you know is right.”
John Grigsby, another Loudoun Opt Out member, continued to work the angle.
“Ken, I wish that Chris could be here tomorrow to look you in the eye,” Grigsby said, adding that Reid could be the “John Roberts” of the Metro vote, alluding to U.S. Supreme Chief Justice John Roberts who disappointed many conservatives by becoming the deciding vote upholding the Affordable Health Care Act, also commonly referred to as Obamacare.
LaRock had also recommended that residents visit Ken Reid’s website to see his views, pointing to past anti-rail sentiments.
“I really recommend that you go to KenReid.org. He’s got some great stuff there,” he said, pointing out one statement where Reid wrote that Metro “’is a land use scheme masquerading as a transportation project.’ I agree. Good Quote. Solid quote. Thank you, Supervisor Reid.”
Reid seemed unphased by the comments, disclosing that he had met with one of the landowners around the Route 772 station during the past week.
“I’d like to praise the opt out group,” Reid said, commending their persistence. “They even found my rabbi’s email and they got him to talk to me about this.”
Supervisor Shawn Williams said the comments against Reid were unnecessary.
“I didn’t appreciate the personal attacks on my colleague Ken Reid tonight,” he said. “I really think you do a disservice to your cause by attacking people personally.”
County Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) explained his understanding of Walker’s opposition to rail.
“I knew Chris Walker,” York said. “Chris Walker supported rail, up until the time he was denied having a station at the location where his property is in Reston. It was at that time after that he fought against. That’s his right to do so, but let’s put all the information on the table.”
But Volpe said opponents and supporters have targeted her, too.
“’A former elected official said to me, ‘If Metro doesn’t go through, you’re all dead,’” she explained. “I looked back and said, ‘Well, we all have to die one day.’”
And with the vote coming Tuesday, the pressure has ramped up, Volpe said.
“I find it interesting that within a 12-hour period I can go from being the hard-core, anti-tax, right-wing extremist freak to the she’s cut a deal with a bunch of developers and there’s a promise of money.”