A downtown Leesburg businesswoman and economic development advocate has thrown her hat into the Town Council race.
Gwen Pangle confirmed this week that she has filed paperwork to run in November’s council elections. She is gunning for one of three council seats on the ballot.
A 20-year Leesburg resident, Pangle is the owner of Pangle & Associates real estate firm. She serves as the chairwoman of both the Leesburg Downtown Business Association and the Leesburg Economic Development Commission. She also serves on the board of the Friends of Leesburg Public Art, the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and holds leadership positions in her industry at the local, state and national levels.
“I don’t know that there’s ever a good time to do this,” Pangle joked, referring to her council run. She said she’s been encouraged to run for a Town Council seat in the past because of her extensive community involvement, but it was a recent conversation with a good friend that got her in the race this year.
“I didn’t really see the cohesiveness I would like to see [on council]. I kept yammering about it to one of my girlfriends and she said ‘I’ve known you a long time. When you start complaining, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,’” Pangle recalled. “We can either accept what’s happening, try to change it or leave it. I couldn’t accept it, I decided that I probably was never going to leave it. The only option was to try to help change it.”
Although she admits that she never thought herself “a political person,” she is one who “loves to help affect change.” And one area she would like to help affect change is where her company resides and she spends much of her professional time now—downtown Leesburg.
“We have a lovely, charming, historic town but lovely, charming and historic won’t keep the shops open downtown. We need for our businesses to thrive. We need to give people a reason to come downtown, make it a destination place. And what’s happening around us with the growth of the airport, the extension of the Silver Line, the growth in Loudoun County…. that’s all going to affect us. Are we going to be a part of it and fit in with it, flourish as a historic, charming, little town, but add the things we need to add to keep people coming into Leesburg and spending money here? That’s the delicate balance and conversation that needs to be had,” she said. Pangle said she would love to see more “collaboration and cooperation” on the council, and said she is one who favors compromise.
“I don’t believe there’s anyone who sits on council and wants to do harm. We just have different ways of achieving the same goal. I think we get tied up in the tug of war that pits one against the other,” she said. “We have an obligation to serve the people of Leesburg and I believe they will feel better if the people serving them like and respect each other and work well together.”
Pangle said she believes she brings several important perspectives to the council—one of a business owner and woman entrepreneur; a single mother who raised both her and her sister’s children in Loudoun County; and a longtime active participant in her community.
“I enjoy trying to make a difference, being a part of my community, and having a seat at the table to try to make things better,” she said. “You live here, you want your children to live here, things are rapidly changing. It’s a good thing to be involved and try to shape that.”
Pangle is aiming for a campaign kickoff in June, hopefully at her son-in-law’s new venture, Dog Money Brewery and Restaurant, at the former Vintage 50 building. A website and Facebook page are also in the works, she said.
Pangle joins Ron Campbell and John Hilton as council candidates. The seats of Katie Hammler, Tom Dunn and Bruce Gemmill expire Dec. 31. The council incumbents have not announced their plans.