Election season is well underway in Leesburg, with Josh Thiel rallying supporters for his Town Council campaign kick-off Tuesday night.
Throngs of supporters turned out to Foxridge Park to hear Thiel’s campaign platform and what his priorities will be if elected in November. Thiel is running to fill the remainder of Kelly Burk’s council term, vacated he she was elected mayor last fall. The term expires Dec. 31, 2018.
Thiel noted his long history in the town, as a 17-year resident and alumnus of Cool Spring Elementary, Harper Park Middle, and Heritage High schools. He and his wife, Abigail, are now property owners in town, residing in Crescent Place.
“I’m looking to give back to the community that’s given so much back to me over the years,” he explained in his justification for entering the council race.
He said the town is in a fairly good position, not necessarily having “issues” but rather “things that need to get ironed out.”
Top among his priorities is tackling transportation concerns with a proactive, rather than reactive, approach. Thiel pointed to the 2,000 houses set to be built in town through the end of 2018, and said there are “better ways we can develop roads” rather than reacting to the congestion that follows development.
Economic development and stability is another pillar of his campaign. And this could take a little thinking outside of the box, the economic development commissioner said.
“Just because we’ve done something for 30 years doesn’t mean it’s right,” Thiel said.
Preserving the town’s heritage while investing in its future is of equal importance, he said. And, for the sake of future generations, “we need a plan that’s going to be sustainable for 20 to 30 years.”
A third priority for Thiel is addressing the nationwide opioid and heroin epidemic. Thiel has been personally affected by this crisis, with five of his fellow Heritage High School alumni losing their battles to the addiction. A better educational effort is needed, he said, and Thiel said he has already reached out to both Leesburg Police Chief Gregory Brown and Loudoun Sheriff Michael Chapman to see “what can I do as a citizen to help?”
“I’m not a pedestal guy,” Thiel said. “I want you to see me right there with you.”
Thiel ended his stump speech with a “kick off” for his kick-off. The former kicker, who attended training camps with several NFL teams, launched a pigskin far into an adjoining field.
Thiel joins two other first-time candidates on November’s ballot: Neil Steinberg and Vanessa Maddox. The deadline to file to run in the special election is Aug. 18.