A baker’s dozen of town residents have applied to be Leesburg’s next Town Council member, at least for a little bit.
Mayor-elect Kelly Burk’s victory in November means that someone will need to fill the remaining two years of her council term, set to expire Dec. 31, 2018.
A special election will be held to fill her seat, most likely in November. However, council members must appoint someone to serve on an interim basis until then. They have 90 days from the date the council vacancy is created to do so. That clock likely starts on or near Dec. 31, as Burk will resign her council seat by that date to begin her post as mayor Jan. 1, 2017.
Headlining the list of candidates is Katie Sheldon Hammler, whose council term will expire at year’s end. Hammler was unsuccessful in her November re-election bid, but is hoping to extend her council term and to retain Leesburg’s leadership seat at the Virginia Municipal League. Hammler is the president-elect of the VML and set to move to the top spot in the organization next year; she would be the first representative in the town’s history. However, if she is not appointed to the interim seat, a representative from another municipality will take her place. Hammler has also said she plans to run in the special election.
Other applicants include Gwen Pangle, who also ran in November’s election, finishing fourth behind Ken Reid, Ron Campbell, and Tom Dunn. Pangle, too, has expressed interest in running in the special election.
Rounding out the list of applicants are Jed Babbin, Michael Decker, Sean Duarte, Hugh Forsythe, Rusty Foster, Jay Greeley, Edward Kiley, Oliver Peters, Jeffrey Phillips, Paige Reitz, and Joshua Thiel.
The next step in the selection process is for council members to pick their top three from the candidate list. The candidates who receive the most support will be given an opportunity to speak and answer questions from the council at its organizational meeting on Jan. 9. An appointment could be made as early as that meeting.
The timing of the special election is another big decision that awaits this council in the New Year. The council must petition the Circuit Court for a writ of election. Council members may request a special election ahead of November’s general election, but doing so will come at a cost. General Registrar Judy Brown estimates that holding a special election at a date other than November’s general election will cost the town upwards of $30,000.