Purcellville Vice Mayor Ben Packard resigned from the Town Council on Tuesday. He is moving out of town.
Packard was elected to a four-year term in May 2014. His plans to move were finalized last month, but he has not closed on the purchase.
Although he has not moved, he decided to resign now.
“Let me point out, that as a town resident I am legally eligible to remain on Town Council until I am no longer a resident,” he said.
Packard said he had spoken with a number of people whose judgment he respected, and that the “vast majority suggested I stay on council until and if my house closes.”
However, Packard said that since he plans to put his house up for sale shortly, he recognized that if he had to move before this year’s budget is finalized it would be unfair to ask someone else to step in at short notice on such an important issue.
After thinking it over during the Christmas break, Packard said Tuesday, “while I would love to continue town service, the factors to step down tonight outweigh the factors to stay on.”
It was not immediately clear whether the council would appoint someone to fill his seat until a special election is held in May.
Town Attorney Sally Hankins said Wednesday she would prepare a petition to the Loudoun County Circuit Court asking to add the election of an individual to complete the two years remaining on Packard’s term to the May ballot, which also will include the mayor’s seat and three other council seats.
The council voted Tuesday to appoint Councilman Patrick McConville as the town’s new vice mayor.
At the meeting, Packard thanked his fellow council members for their collaboration, as well as that of “the amazing” town staff.
“I wish them the best of luck. Election season is coming up again, and I would encourage Council to be civil and positive,” Packard said.
Reached for comment on Wednesday, Packard said his decision had not been affected by the uncivil tone of some of the online comments demanding he step down from council. “I’m a lawyer. I have a thick skin,” he said, laughing.
Asked if he had any parting thoughts for his colleagues, Packard urged council members to be serious about their new annexation policy. Noting disagreement on the council over whether to allow any expansion of the town boundaries, Packard said the council needed to make up its mind whether it wished to follow the policy that allows landowners to make annexation proposals. It was not fair to invite applicants to go through the process if there was no real intent to follow it through to the end, he said.
Packard also urged council members to try to make a positive statement about the town’s finances, which, he said, are in good shape despite criticism by some about the amount of outstanding debt.
“They need to explain that debts can’t always be transferred from fund to fund, and come up with ways that could minimize the debt,” he said. “Don’t whine, just come up with a viable plan.”