Leesburg Vice Mayor Kelly Burk will be looking to lead the town come November.
Burk announced in a Facebook post today that she will be running for mayor in the next Town Council elections in November 2016. The post began with her remarks in regard to the upcoming mayoral appointment process, set to commence at the council’s first work session on Jan. 11, 2016.
Current Mayor Kristen Umstattd is expected to submit resignation officially in the coming days, as she prepares for her four-year term as Leesburg District supervisor on Jan. 1, 2016. The Town Council will then be tasked with appointing someone to fill the remainder of her term, which expires Dec. 31, 2016. In her absence, Burk, the town’s vice mayor, will serve as acting mayor until a new mayor is appointed.
In today’s post, Burk said some members of the current council are advocating that a sitting council member be appointed to fill Umstattd’s term. That person would then inherit Umstattd’s term and lose the remainder of theirs.
“I feel very strongly that it is not in the town’s best interest,” Burk wrote. “By having a council member fill the interim seat, it necessitates yet another temporary appointment for the council member’s slot that might be followed by a special election. Therefore, I will not be putting my name in for the interim mayor. I will continue to serve as vice mayor till November 2016.”
But Burk made her future intentions clear.
“I wanted you to know that I will be running for mayor in the November 2016 election,” the post reads. “Believing that Leesburg is a great place to live and work, I want to serve as mayor to continue to guide Leesburg toward more inclusive and vibrant economy. This includes putting residents first with an emphasis on managing growth and improving all aspects of transportation.”
When reached by phone Tuesday night, Burk said one reason she did not want to be considered for the interim mayoral appointment is because she believes that no one person should be anointed by the council for a future election.
“I think it should be a fair process and in the past it’s always been that the council has selected someone temporary that is qualified but not interested in pursuing running for that particular position,” she said.
Burk was first elected to the Town Council in 2004, serving three years of the four-year term before winning election to the Board of Supervisors as its Leesburg District representative in November 2007. She lost her re-election bid for that seat to current Leesburg Supervisor Ken Reid (R) four years later. However, Burk was successful in a special election bid to fill the remainder of Reid’s council term. She most recently won election to a new four-year council term in November 2014.
Burk said she believes that it is her experience serving on both the Town Council and Board of Supervisors that makes her well qualified to become Leesburg’s 48th mayor.
“Experience is invaluable,” she said. “Having been in two positions, seeing issues from both sides I most certainly have more experience with various issues and concerns within the town. I think I’ve made quite a contribution to the town. I’ve worked hard to listen to residents and find out what their concerns are.”
Should Burk’s mayoral bid be successful, she will forfeit the remaining two years of her current council term. While Leesburg council members run for four-year terms, the mayor’s seat is up for election every two years.