The Leesburg Town Council finally has its seventh member.
Bruce Gemmill was appointed to the council Monday night, filling a seat vacated by the appointment of David Butler to mayor earlier this month. Sixteen town residents applied to be considered for the post.
Gemmill is the senior vice president for marketing and public relations at John Marshall Bank, and serves on the boards for both Visit Loudoun and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. He was also the Board of Supervisors’ appointee to the Leesburg Airport Commission and served on the town Economic Development Commission’s Performing Arts Center Task Force and Commission on Public Art. Prior to joining John Marshall Bank, Gemmill was the owner and operator of Campbell Communications, an advertising and public relations agency, for 21 years. He has lived in Leesburg since 2005.
On his appointment to the council, Gemmill stated in a town press release that he was “flattered” to have been chosen. In applying for the position, he stated in his expression of interest that he was not interested in seeking a council seat in November’s general elections.
“Over the next 10 months, if the best thing said about my temporary position on the Council is ‘Bruce brought civility back to public discourse, respect towards those with competing interests, and improvement to the process of getting things done,’ then I will feel my time has been well spent,” he stated. “And by ‘getting things done,’ I mean that which will improve the business climate in Leesburg and the quality of life for its residents.”
The council vacancy was initially triggered by the election of Mayor Kristen Umstattd to serve as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. She resigned her town post when she took up her county duties Jan. 1. Butler was appointed to her seat during a special meeting two weeks ago, so Gemmill will now fill the remainder of Butler’s term, which expires Dec. 31.
Monday night’s special meeting to fill the vacancy was brief, as Gemmill was the first person put forward for nomination. Councilman Tom Dunn made the initial motion and was seconded by Councilwoman Suzanne Fox. Only Vice Mayor Kelly Burk and Councilman Marty Martinez voted against the motion to appoint Gemmill. The council had the option of discussing the applicants and the council appointment process in closed session, but only Fox expressed support for that.
At least one councilmember was unhappy about the process to appoint Gemmill. In an emailed statement Tuesday, Vice Mayor Kelly Burk called the meeting an “abysmal failure.”
She said there should have been public discussion about candidates’ qualifications and the process by which a candidate assumes office, as well why the council chose one candidate over the others.
“Though it had nothing to do with me, I have been apologizing to those fifteen people who did not get to be considered in this misguided process. … It was callous and disrespectful to the remaining candidates and the public sitting there watching this process unfold,” she wrote.
Burk, who is running for Mayor in the November election, said she hopes the other candidates who expressed interest will also run for office in the fall.
Others who applied to fill Butler’s seat were: Brett Burk, Ron Campbell, James Csizmadia, Victoria Daly, Rusty Foster, Jay Greeley, John Hilton, Rebecca Hoey, Edward Kiley, Gwen Pangle, Mary Pellicano, Oliver Peters, Douglas Skinner, Terry Titus and Giovanna Untalan.