Leesburg Council Candidates Make Their Case

The four candidates vying to join Leesburg Town Council members on the dais lay out compelling cases, as far as their professional résumés and community involvement are concerned.

The name that may be most recognizable to Leesburg voters is Gwen Pangle, who was on November’s council ballot, finishing in fourth place behind incumbent Tom Dunn by 42 votes. The chairwoman of the Leesburg Economic Development Commission, Pangle is also the president of the Leesburg Downtown Business Association, and serves on the board of directors for the Friends of Leesburg Public Arts.

A downtown business owner, Pangle opened her real estate brokerage, Pangle & Associates, in 2011. She has made no secret of her intentions to run in the special election to ultimately fill the remainder of Mayor Kelly Burk’s council term, and restated her intentions in the expression of interest provided to council members in advance of Monday’s organizational meeting.

One who does not appear to be joining her on the special election ballot is fellow interim council candidate Jed Babbin. In his expression of interest for the interim appointment, Babbin emphatically stated that he “will not run” in the special election. Babbin serves on the town’s Diversity Commission. He has spent the better part of the past 20 years as a author and commentator, with expertise in domestic politics, defense, national security, and foreign affairs. Babbin served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

Rusty Foster, the vice chairman of the Commission on Public Art, has also thrown his hat in the ring for the council seat. Foster is the board chairman of the YMCA of Loudoun County, the chairman of the Loudoun County Family Services Advisory Board, and is also an active member of the LDBA and Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. Professionally, he is the owner and operator of Bow Tie Strategies, a public relations firm based in town.

Hugh “Bugs” Forsythe, a retired major general in the U.S. Air Force, is the final candidate up for consideration. The current chairman of the board of directors for Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers, Forsythe continues to work as an operations controller for United Airlines. His career spans the commercial/civilian and military sectors in the aviation industry. He has also helped to plan the town’s annual Air Show.

The council will meet beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, for its organizational meeting when the four candidates will each give a presentation. An appointment could come as early as that evening.