Six local races appear on this year’s Loudoun County ballots, including five races for local constitutional offices and one for the three elective seats on the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors.
Article VII Section 4 of the Virginia Constitution establishes five offices that are generally filled by elections in each locality—treasurer, sheriff, commonwealth’s attorney, clerk of the circuit court, and commissioner of revenue. Those elected to these offices serve four-year terms, except the circuit court clerk who serves an eight-year term. In Loudoun County this year, all five offices are up for election.
Incumbent Loudoun County Treasurer Roger Zurn (R) is not seeking reelection. Zurn served as treasurer since he was first elected in 1995. Henry Eickelberg (R) and Robin Roopnarine (D) are running for the open seat.
Treasurers have legal responsibility for monitoring the county’s money, including collecting taxes and disbursements from the state, distributing funds as directed by county officials, and keeping the financial books. The term of office is four years.
Henry Eickelberg (R)
Henry Eickelberg (R) stands as the Republican Party nominee for this open seat.
Eickelberg is an experienced financial professional. Early in his career he worked as a consultant with William M. Mercer Inc., then as a partner at the law firm of Jenner & Block. From there he went to General Dynamics as vice president of human resources and shared services. Now he is a senior fellow at the H.R. Policy Association, an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the Washington University in Saint Louis.
If elected, Eickelberg promises to utilize his experience managing large organizations, focus on continuous improvement, engage with the community, and be a good financial steward of the taxpayers’ money. In short, he intends to keep doing what Zurn did.
Robin Roopnarine (D)
Robin Roopnarine (D) stands as the Democratic Party nominee for this open seat.
Roopnarine began his career as a bank auditor and member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. As a reservist during the first Persian Gulf War, he was deployed to Saudia Arabia and Kuwait and received several commendations and awards. He later became a certified public accountant (CPA) and attorney. Roopnarine has worked for major firms like Deloitte, and as an independent tax professional.
If elected, Roopnarine intends to “maintain the financial stability of . . . Zurn’s tenure while improving cooperation and efficiencies across Loudoun County government.” He emphasizes maintaining fiscal stability, optimizing performance in the treasurer’s office, and collaborating with other local offices.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Roopnarine worked as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney under Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) from May 2022 to June 2023.
The treasurer’s office under Zurn has been quietly stable and competent. Both Eickelberg and Roopnarine are financial professionals and attorneys who promise to generally stay-the-course and keep doing what Zurn was doing.
There are three factors tilting me toward Eickelberg over Roopnarine.
First, Eickelberg is the more experienced of the two. Second, although Roopnarine talks about continuing what Zurn was doing, he also says he intends to “bring positive change” (to an office that is already working beautifully?) and that he wants to “generate greater faith in government” (ha!). Third, although Roopnarine tries to downplay it, he spent a year in Biberaj’s commonwealth’s attorney office and has campaigned with Biberaj as recently as this last February.
Roopnarine is not responsible for any of Biberaj’s debacles as far as I know (refer to my review of the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney race below for details). But he served in her office, saw what she was doing first-hand, and said nothing.
Vote Henry Eickelberg for Loudoun County Treasurer.
Incumbent Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) is challenged by Craig Buckley (D). Chapman has served as sheriff since he was first elected in 2011.
Sheriffs have legal responsibility to “enforce the law or see that it is enforced in the locality,” assist in the judicial process, and run the local jail. In Loudoun County, the Sheriff’s Office is the primary law enforcement agency. The term of office is four years.
Incumbent: Mike Chapman (R)
Three-term incumbent Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) stands for reelection as the Republican Party nominee.
Chapman was a police officer in Howard County, Maryland, from 1978 to 1984. He then served in several roles with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from 1985 to 2008, including periods as attaché to South Korea, Acting Regional Director for the Far East, and Chief of Public Affairs. From there he became a subject matter expert in global security and law enforcement at Booz Allen Hamilton. He served in that role until he was elected Loudoun County Sheriff.
The former sheriff—Steve Simpson (I)—left office under a cloud of failure and corruption. When Chapman came in, he cleaned things up at the Sheriff’s Office, improved its effectiveness and accountability, and has kept it mostly on the right track ever since.
Loudoun County has been less affected by national trends than our neighboring jurisdictions. Crime is still relatively low even in the middle of a nationwide crime spike, and even as our commonwealth’s attorney pushes to let criminals out as early as possible (when she bothers to prosecute them at all). This is a testament to the diligence of the sheriff’s office under Chapman.
If reelected, Chapman intends to stay the course: enforce the law, catch the bad guys, and keep the community safe.
Craig Buckley (D)
Craig Buckley stands as the Democratic Party nominee to challenge Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman (R).
Buckley has had a long career in law enforcement, having served as a uniformed officer, detective, instructor, supervisor, commander, and chief. He was a police officer with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department and the City of Fairfax Police Department, and then became the chief of the Town of Louisa Police Department.
If elected, Buckley promises that he will bring “a more innovative and updated approach to leadership;” recommit to accountability, excellence, and transparency; make the office a more “welcoming, rewarding, and inclusive work environment;” and improve collaboration with the community.
Buckley was one of many local candidates and officials who participated in the “Loudoun Love Warriors” online hate group, which “doxxed” and launched harassment campaigns against parents who spoke at school board meetings. There is no evidence that Buckley himself participated in the “doxxing” or harassment; he later joined other local Democrats in condemning the group’s hateful rhetoric (but only after it had become public knowledge).
Chapman is doing a fine job. The county is reasonably safe, and we have been partially insulated from the destructive behavior of our commonwealth’s attorney. The only significant recurring political criticism of Chapman is that he sometimes attends political campaign events. Imagine that! An elected official participates in electoral politics! How awful!
Buckley appears to be a capable and experienced law enforcement professional, but he is promising to fix things that are not broken. His association with the “Loudoun Love Warriors” scandal concerns me. What concerns me more is that he has not, to my knowledge, publicly condemned Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) for any of her many debacles. This makes it difficult to believe that Buckley will serve with the “integrity and honor” he promises.
Vote Mike Chapman for Loudoun County Sheriff.
Incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) is challenged by former Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Anderson (R). Biberaj has served as commonwealth’s attorney since she was first elected in 2019.
Commonwealth’s attorneys have legal responsibility for prosecuting criminals on behalf of the state, including handling warrants, indictments, civil forfeitures, and petitions for appeal. It is the Virginia equivalent of a district attorney or state prosecutor. The term of office is four years.
The race for Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney requires special attention.
We have had unusually poor commonwealth’s attorneys for many years. In 2019, when former Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman (R) was not seeking reelection after having served for the preceding sixteen years, I said he “repeatedly showed poor judgement and favoritism, and there are serious indications that he is corrupt.” Four years earlier I described several examples of frivolous charges, biased investigations, and suspicious inconsistencies during Plowman’s tenure.
I was pleased when Plowman left office—though troubled that he had “failed upwards” into an appointment as a circuit court judge. No matter which of the two candidates to replace him had won, I hoped we would have a period of relative normalcy. We cannot accept a bunch of drama and nonsense in an office that handles the prosecution of criminals. It’s dangerous.
The 2019 race went to Buta Biberaj (D), who defeated Nicole Wittman (R) by a relatively narrow 2.5 percentage-point margin. Biberaj was not my preferred candidate; I described her as “more focused on nonsensical social justice buzzwords than on the proper execution of the law.” I did not expect her to do a great job, but I thought she would at least be . . . normal. I was wrong.
Biberaj’s tenure has been an almost incomprehensible disaster. She is the most dangerously incompetent public official by whom I have ever been represented.
She manages the office so poorly that it had a turnover rate more than seven-times the county average in 2021. During that year, half her office quit. She has been removed from cases for prosecutorial misconduct. She refuses to prosecute “minor” crimes like trespassing and reckless driving. Criminals go free under her watch while innocent people—including a father whose daughter was raped in a school bathroom—are brought up on absurd false charges. An unethical attempt to switch courts resulted in a paperwork snafu that set an accused murderer free and triggered a nationwide manhunt. Her office approved the release of an abusive husband on an unsecured bond—against the recommendation of the court services office—and he promptly bludgeoned his estranged wife to death with a hammer.
These are just some of Biberaj’s most notable debacles. There are others.
Citizens attempted to impeach and remove Biberaj; they failed. Elizabeth Lancaster (D) challenged Biberaj in the Democratic primary; she lost. This election is the only thing left standing between the people of Loudoun and four more years of Biberaj’s civil rights violations, abuses of power, and threats to public safety.
If you normally don’t vote in off-year local elections (or at all), do it this year. Leave everything else blank if you want, but please at least vote against Biberaj. If you’re a Democrat who normally just votes for anybody with a “D” after their name, I beg you to make an exception this time.
I have never made a plea like this before. I may never do so again. This is a unique situation, and we cannot allow it to continue.
Incumbent: Buta Biberaj (D)
One-term incumbent Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) stands for reelection as the Democratic Party nominee.
Before her election, Biberaj was a defense attorney and substitute judge. She claims that she “ensured that justice [was] delivered fairly to all members of the Loudoun community” over the last four years, and promises that, if reelected, she will prioritize justice, prevention, protection, prosecution, equity, transparency, and integrity.
This time around, she has reduced her campaign’s use of empty social justice slogans. Some of them remain—trendy but misguided claims about nonexistent inequities—but they are at a lower simmer. Once you get past that, she says good things about justice and integrity. I don’t believe a single word of it.
As described above, Biberaj’s tenure has been a dismal failure. At every juncture, she has made bad decisions, abused her powers, and violated citizens’ civil rights. When she gets caught, she lies. When she gets criticized, she deflects.
Bob Anderson (R)
Former Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Anderson (R) stands as the Republican Party nominee to challenge Biberaj. Anderson was first elected to this seat in 1995 and was reelected in 1999. After two terms as a Republican, Anderson ran for reelection as an independent in 2003 and was defeated by Jim Plowman (R).
Anderson has been an attorney in private practice for most of his career; his law office is in Leesburg. He says he is reentering politics now because “the current Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office is broken and non-functioning.” He promises transparency, cooperation, and a recommitment to the pursuit of justice.
I did not live in Loudoun County during Anderson’s time in office, but the fact that he has campaigned against two awful commonwealth’s attorneys—Plowman and Biberaj—argues in his favor.
In case it wasn’t clear from the special statement included above, in which I referred to Biberaj as the most “dangerously incompetent public official by whom I have ever been represented,” I think you should vote against her.
You should tell all your friends about her and invite them to vote against her too. If you know people who don’t usually vote, you should motivate them to show up in November just to vote against her.
Anderson seems to be a fine, competent alternative . . . but frankly, I would vote for a bowl of cold mashed potatoes if voting for them would bring Biberaj’s time in office to its inglorious end.
Vote Bob Anderson for Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Incumbent Circuit Court Clerk Gary Clemens (R) is challenged by Brian Allman (I). The Democratic Party has not made a nomination. Clemens has served as the clerk of the Loudoun County Circuit Court since he was first elected in 1999.
Circuit court clerks have legal responsibility for managing jury service, issuing summonses and other documents, managing court deposits and payouts, and maintaining court records. Records managed by the clerk include case files, wills and probate, concealed handgun permits, marriage licenses, and land records. The term of office is eight years.
Incumbent: Gary Clemens (R)
Three-term incumbent Loudoun County Circuit Court Clerk Gary Clemens (R) stands for reelection as the Republican Party nominee.
Clemens began his career as a litigation paralegal, and later became a senior deputy clerk in the Fairfax County Circuit Court clerk’s office. From 1996 to 1999 he was an investigator and case manager for the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.
The office of Circuit Court Clerk has been well-managed by Clemens; it never makes the news, it just . . . works. There is not much more to say about it. That’s a good thing. I wish more government agencies just did their jobs without a bunch of unnecessary drama.
Brian Allman (I)
Brian Allman stands as an independent candidate to challenge Clemens.
Allman is a former contractor, police officer, and real estate agent. He ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic Party nominee for sheriff in 2015. The website for this campaign is . . .. . . . He alleges that Clemens should be thrown out because he’s “Trump lovin,” says that deputy clerks “starve and almost qualify for food stamps,” and promises “NO MORE WHITE JURIES!” (caps in original).
In my 2015 endorsements I said, “Allman has shown signs of instability.” In one notable case, he was convicted of obscenity for calling a defense attorney “a term for part of the female anatomy” (the conviction was later overturned). When that incident came up at a local Democratic Party meeting in 2015, Allman made threats and was kicked out.
Clemens is doing a fine job and should be reelected. Even if there was reason to consider an alternative, the only one on the ballot has a history of erratic behavior and has based his whole campaign on memes that don’t make any sense.
Vote Gary Clemens for Clerk of the Loudoun County Circuit Court.
Commissioner of Revenue
Incumbent Revenue Commissioner Bob Wertz (R) is challenged by Sri Amudhanar (D). Wertz has served as revenue commissioner since he was first elected in 2003.
Revenue commissioners have legal responsibility for personal property tax assessments, business licenses, revenue collection, and maintaining official records relating to taxes and revenue. The term of office is four years.
Incumbent: Bob Wertz (R)
Five-term incumbent Loudoun County Commissioner of Revenue Bob Wertz (R) stands for reelection as the Republican Party nominee.
Wertz has worked for Loudoun County for most of his career, and served in the revenue commissioner’s office for a number of years before being elected to lead it. If reelected, Wertz intends to continue providing reliable service to the county’s citizens, make further technical improvements, and keep the office’s administrative expenses as low as possible.
This is another office that just sort of works. It has been managed in a quiet, competent way. No drama. No controversy. No abuses of power. No violations of trust.
Sri Amudhanar (D)
Sri Amudhanar stands as the Democratic Party nominee to challenge Loudoun County Commissioner of Revenue Bob Wertz (R). Amudhanar owns a business that sells information technology solutions.
If elected, Amudhanar promises to improve employee retention, reduce errors, “improve revenue office customer service,” “prioritize retention of our investment” in the schools, and “bring the rigor of federal processes to Loudoun revenue operations.”
The first few aren’t needed, and the last two make no sense. The office has nothing to do with “investment” in schools. And our incoherent federal processes are many things, but they are not “rigorous.” The federal government is the one that recently made a $6.2 billion accounting error, remember? And it “corrected” that error by sending all that money to Ukraine for some reason.
Wertz, like other incumbents in Loudoun’s less glorious offices, has proved himself competent. There is no reason to replace him. Amudhanar says he will bring “the rigor of federal processes” to Loudoun; that’s not a promise, it’s a threat.
Vote Bob Wertz for Loudoun County Commissioner of Revenue.
Soil & Water Conservation District
Soil and Water Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of the Commonwealth of Virginia that, like school districts, are overlaid with the “true” localities. The borders of the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District exactly match the borders of Loudoun County.
The purpose of these districts is . . . well . . . uh . . . nobody seems to be sure. The Code of Virginia gives them the authority to consult with localities, conduct surveys and publish their results, demonstrate methods of conservation, assist other governments in “preventative and control measures,” and develop plans and programs. It has no apparent authority to raise revenue, make policy, or really do . . . anything.
Board of Directors
Soil and Water Conservation Districts are overseen by a board of directors. In cases like Loudoun’s where the district “embraces” only one locality, the board consists of five members. Three are elected by the voters, and two are appointed by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board, whose members are appointed by the governor.
Six candidates appear on this year’s ballot for the three elective seats on the board. Citizens of Loudoun County may vote for up to three candidates, and the three who receive the highest number of votes will be elected.
This is a nonpartisan office; none of the candidates will be identified with a political party on the ballot. Political parties may, however, make endorsements. The term of office is four years.
Two incumbent members of the board are seeking reelection—John Flannery and Marina Schumacher. Four other candidates also appear on the ballot—Derrick Clarke, Jonathan Erickson, Peter Holden, and Uzma Rasheed.
The Loudoun County Democratic Committee has endorsed John Flannery, Peter Holden, and Uzma Rasheed. The Loudoun County Republican Committee has made no endorsements.
This is a pointless election for pointless offices on a pointless board that runs a pointless political entity. If it does serve any useful functions, there’s no reason they can’t be done by the ”true” localities and the state’s conservation agencies.
I make no endorsement. You might as well just leave it blank.
If you really don’t want to do that, vote for the three candidates who have not been endorsed by the local Democratic Party: Marina Schumacher, Derrick Clarke, and Jonathan Erickson. Given how wacky the Democrats’ nominees and endorsees in other races have been for the last few election cycles, it’s probably safe to assume they’re backing the worst ones.