In this Q&A, COG Board Chairman and Loudoun County Supervisor Matthew Letourneau discusses his regional focus areas for the year, including managing traffic incidents and securing local government buildings.
1. How did you get into public service?
As a resident in a very fast-growing county, I began to ask questions about how we were handling our growth and what our plans were for infrastructure and for economic development. At the time, I didn’t feel the board was focused enough on those issues, and I decided that instead of just complaining about it, I would try to make a difference myself. The more that I got involved, the more that I realized just how important local government was. The opportunity came where I decided to run for office for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and now seven years later I am still at it.
2. As Chairman of the COG Board of Directors, you identified two priorities for the year.
Why is traffic incident management an important regional priority?
I think it is important for elected officials to be in tune with the constituents that we serve. And when you talk to people in this region, traffic and congestion are by far the things that we hear most about. We are working on some of those issues through local and state efforts, for example building roads, but there is a component that is regional in nature, which is those roads that go between jurisdictions that have accidents or incidents on them and how we respond to them. The question is: can we do a better job handling those situations? For example, if there is an incident in D.C., then that can create a backup into Virginia or Maryland. Currently, we are a little bit siloed in how we approach incident management from a public safety, law enforcement, and transportation perspective. This year at COG, we are working on identifying what we can do from sharing resources and information to allow us to address incidents faster.
Why did you identify physical security of local government buildings as a focus area of the board this year?
On the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, we have been discussing security of county and school facilities and what the best practices are for ensuring safety not only of officials, but also of all employees, occupants, and people that we serve. It became clear that there is not one standard across the region, but that every jurisdiction handles security differently. This year at COG, we hope to better understand the physical security measures of local government buildings and identify best practices and strategies. At COG, we have resources and staff experienced in public safety. I think this initiative will help each jurisdiction determine what their own policies will be for physical security in local government facilities.
3. How does Loudoun County benefit from membership with COG?
I think it is increasingly important for Loudoun County to have a voice in the metropolitan Washington region. We are one of the fastest growing jurisdictions in the entire country, and especially here in the D.C. region. As our population continues to grow and Metro trains start to come to Loudoun in a few years, it is more important than ever that we have a seat at the table in regional issues. All of the issues that affect the D.C. region also affect Loudoun, whether that’s traffic, jobs, or housing. Through participation at COG, it has been helpful for Loudoun to hear what other jurisdictions are doing. Because much of our county is newer within the region, a lot of places have experienced some of the issues that we are dealing with and we can learn from that. The dialogue we have at COG as well as the policy aspects are beneficial for Loudoun County.
MORE: COG Board Chairman Matt Letourneau talks infrastructure, transportation on Kojo Nnamdi Show