Editorial: Beyond the Litmus Tests

There were both opportunities and dangers when the Town of Leesburg opted to move its elections from May to November.

The biggest benefit was to have more town residents participate in the process of selecting their municipal leaders.

Before the change was made in 2012, fewer than one in 10 Leesburg voters was stopping at the polls during May balloting. In 2008, only 1,900 votes were cast in the Town Council races—fewer votes than were cast in 1992, even though the town’s population had doubled over that span. That year also marked the lowest voter turnout in the town’s history, at a paltry 8 percent.

In the town’s first November election, in 2012, more than 20,000 voters participated. That was a presidential election and turnout was expected to be high, but more than 10,000 voters cast ballots in 2014. Clearly, there is more voter participation.

Among the concerns about moving the town’s balloting to the fall general election was that races could become more overtly partisan. They have.

That’s not necessarily a good thing. But it doesn’t become a bad thing unless voters—and candidates—allow it.

Local elections are about ideas, not ideology. Candidates’ positions on abortion rights, gun control, the presidential campaign or other political party litmus tests reveal nothing about their ability to effectively manage the town’s financial resources, ensure the public safety and guide development. Yet, those are the tasks required by this community service.

Over the next two months there is ample opportunity for voters to learn what each of Leesburg’s 10 candidates stand for and their goals for the town in the coming years. Leesburg needs pragmatic community builders of all political stripes, and town voters will have to look beyond the sample ballots provided by political activists to find them.

5 thoughts on “Editorial: Beyond the Litmus Tests

  • Pingback: Letter: Katie Sheldon Hammler, Leesburg – Loudoun Now

  • 2016-09-03 at 11:02 am

    I agree that we need better voter participation in the electoral process but we also need voters to have information about the current Town issues that require their careful consideration of which candidates to vote for. Having more voters and less qualified candidates is not a solution to achieve better government. In this election cycle I hope that we can get to the issues that are at stake in our community and the qualifications of those who have put themselves forward for election.

    It’s time for our conversation to become more civil and as one person running for office, it is my desire to represent the best interests of all in our community.

    I am running because I am qualified and I want to help my Town move forward and embrace the challenges of growth that impact our taxes, town services, roads and future business and residential development. I am running for a chance to help preserve the best of our history and make wise investments in our future.

    I hope you will visit http://www.electroncampbell.com to learn about my background that I believe qualifies me to participate in Town management.

    Please send me any questions you might have and I will be sure to answer them honestly and hopefully earn your trust and your Vote on November 8th.

  • 2016-08-26 at 8:24 am

    My, my! A short editorial, my comment, and then boom. In comes the really, really, really long rant from Leesburgsfinest (Not!) demonstrating the exact point raised by the editorial, and my comments. Tom Dunn and Ken Reid, smear those around them with the word “liberal” used in a snide fashion. Notice, Leesburgsfinest(Not!) does the exact same thing? The nasty tones adopted by Tom Dunn, and Ken Reid, and their supporter, Leesburgsfinest(Not!) have been there for years. Long before any change to a November election. So, we see the new reality, which is really the old reality, just continued.

  • 2016-08-25 at 6:16 pm

    Lawgh/laugh – you continue to be a bitter liberal and support every liberal politician, blindly, regardless of their shortcomings without ever mentioning any of THEIR records. Look, probably 50% of the Town Council work and votes are merely non-partisan are have essentially zero to do with party affiliation and the folks get along fine. Kelly (and the likes of Butler, Martinez, etc.) votes for approval of these 5 massive construction projects, then votes down this one tiny project comparatively speaking, and she has done here liberal good deed???….. She and the others vote to widen the one (1) strip of sidewalk for $3,000,000.00 when for 4 months it can’t be used for the intended purpose of DINING due to the Winter months, and during much of the summer it can’t be used either as it is in the direct sunlight, as it is too uncomfortable for patrons. Please feel free to visit and see for yourself. Our expected ROI will be the year 3000, which equates to never with maintenance and replacement. The other projects such as connecting the communities where they wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars by approving the architectural design before knocking on doors and asking residents/tenants their thoughts on bridges, paths, etc. coming through their front yards was the biggest utter waste of money that has never been discussed in this Town. The skateboard park is another project as Tom, Ken, etc. were opposed (Ken unofficially, obviously) as the low volume of use, high construction cost and high cost of the land, could have netted the Town a significant amount of $$$$ for other projects. The liberals were in opposition and feared collusion or some delusional attachment to the $1,000,000+ price tag plus the negative drain on our Town. Don’t mention our new “water features”, at a cost of hundreds of several thousand dollars, which are assured to attract a new breed by the millions downtown to openly spend their money…. Ken and Tom and fiscal guys, which is what we need to keep the liberals in check….. Please don’t preach to me about the ex-Mayor as we have unrealized large bills rolling in that we’re deferred from her reign….. Ken has a much more pleasant personality than Tom, but he doesn’t sugar-coat his perspective on matters. With the incoming breed of Evan MacBeth, and Ron Campbell, who want to pander to many of the non tax-paying residents, and in Evan’s situation, with pandering to all of the illegal aliens, our Town has alot to fear from liberals as our money will be siphoned into pet projects and not spread throughout the Town the way it should be. I already see that our incoming Police Chief has made a commitment to value property crime, at the mall, over the MS-13 murders, extortion, drug, gun and other issues which is a massive liberal shakedown of our Town and tells me what the emphasis of the Acting-Mayor (Dave Butler) and those who interviewed him are, sadly……. Kevin has positioned him well, right in between two democrats probably with equal votes. Last go around Kristin got elected 2-1, there are now 3 candidates, with 2 democrats and 1 republican (Kevin is a wanna-be republican), which should make it an interesting race. I will do my best to ensure Kelly Burk stays put as I want her Council seat to remain dead….. I don’t support Kevin and Butler couldn’t even manage the snowstorm, which a man died due to main roads being unplowed. Butler and Kelly were all part of all the other issues cited above. These are all facts… Please support your local liberals and support open borders, failing schools, my daughter learning Spanish as her primary language in school, my daughter learning at a slower rate, my daughter being forced into a school with kids who aren’t vetted for illnesses, forcing my son into a school with MS-13 gang members, criminality, higher crime, increased taxes via many ways, the DNC and Lawgh…….

  • 2016-08-25 at 10:58 am

    Point one: Notice that after the change to a November election, the very same office holder won. Oh, I am sorry. One did not. Kevin Wright. The only one. Interesting. Point Two. For years and years, Leesburg has had to put up with Tom Dunn, and Ken Reid when he was on the council, calling everyone else on council “liberals” in that snide way they have when they are insulting people. The voters always have the final say. Party endorsements do not. So, if it is all to be settled by who has the best ideas, than Tom Dunn and Ken Reid will not win. Lets see how it really works.

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