Middleburg’s Town Council elections are still more than 10 months away, but it already is clear this will not be a typical sleepy campaign.
Next May, voters will be asked to select a new mayor and four council members. One name that won’t be on the ballot is that of the town’s 12-year mayor, Betsy Davis, who won’t seek a seventh term.
Already, Vincent Bataoel, chairman of the town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, has announced his mayoral campaign and at least two incumbent council members are said to be considering a run for the seat.
Davis, 65, a lifelong town resident and longtime business owner, was first elected to the Town Council in 1998. When Mayor Tim Dimos decided to give up the gavel, she was elected to that seat in 2006.
“It’s certainly time to let others take over and run the town,” Davis said. “It’s time for me to relax a little.”
Davis says she made it clear when she campaigned in 2016 that it would be her last time. In fact, she almost didn’t run last year. It was the town’s Rt. 50 Traffic Calming Project that kept her in office.
“That was something that I had really wanted to get done,” she said. “That’s why I went ahead and ran one more time so I could kind of see it to completion.”
The project was completed in October.
She ran unopposed in all six of her campaigns—a tradition in the town’s mayoral elections. The last contested race was in 1992, when Caroline Bowersock was elected over Helen Hyre.
When her term ends next June, Davis said she plans to work full time at her family-owned business in town, The Fun Shop.
Bataoel, 35, opened his campaign last week. As co-founder of the LEED consulting company Above Green, he brings with him 10 years of experience as a business owner. He was appointed to the town’s EDAC in 2014.
According to Bataoel, there are two reasons he is running for mayor.
He points to his work this spring, through the EDAC, to help facilitate a deal that brought the King Street Oyster Bar to Middleburg.
“Recruiting that one business had such a big positive impact on the community,” he said. “It kind of got my wheels turning.”
His other reason for running is because Davis is not.
“If Betsy would have run, I wouldn’t run,” he said. “I wouldn’t dream of running if Betsy was not moving on.”
According to his campaign website, Bataoel plans to keep the town from becoming just a tourist attraction, keep utility and tax rates low, reinvest in the historic downtown area, fill vacant spaces with new businesses and bring the town’s popular equestrian community to the forefront.
“The highest priority for me is to keep Middleburg a small town,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind that’s totally the most important and critical thing.”
Bataoel’s feelings toward the town reflect those of a life-long resident, such as Davis. Bataoel, however, is not a town native. He and his wife, Nelina, moved to Middleburg from Iowa in 2010. As more of his company’s work was beginning to emerge on the East Coast than in the Midwest, he suggested they move.
Being a horse rider, Nelina was already acquainted with Middleburg’s equestrian community.
“My wife said, ‘fine but it has to be Middleburg,’” Bataoel said. “It was that simple.”
Bataoel plans to meet with residents as much as possible during the next 10 months. The election will be held May 1, 2018.
For more information on Bataoel’s campaign, go to middleburg2018.com.