Hours after learning that Ken Reid is stepping down from his seat, Leesburg Town Council members laid out their priorities for next steps to fill the vacancy.
Reid announced his resignation Tuesday afternoon; it is effective Dec. 1.
Council members appear intent to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible. They have 15 days from when the vacancy begins to petition the Circuit Court to authorize a special election and 90 days to appoint a representative on an interim basis. In years past, the selection of interim appointees has proven to be a thorny process in Leesburg, as council members debated how applicants for the seat should be vetted and voted upon.
In their vote Tuesday night, council members hoped to avoid that process altogether.
Councilman Tom Dunn found support for his proposal to hold a special election on Feb. 6. Dunn noted that it would avoid the council having to appoint an interim council member, as the election would occur in less than 90 days. It also does not fall during a holiday nor in proximity to another election or primary.
“By acting quickly we can avoid the six- to eight-week process on how to [select] an appointment,” he said. “We owe it to the citizens to allow them to pick their representative.”
Dunn acknowledged that holding a special election outside of November’s general election will come at a cost—in years past General Registrar Judy Brown has estimated that setting up and staffing polling places outside of a regularly scheduled election can cost tens of thousands of dollars—but said the funds are available without impacting taxpayers. Holding an earlier special election may also do away with considerable confusion, as three other council seats, along with the mayor’s post, will be on next November’s ballot.
The proposal found unanimous support, with Reid absent from the meeting. The Circuit Court ultimately will sign off on the date, or assign a new one, and in the agreed upon motion the council acknowledged it would go along with whatever date was set by the court.
Town Manager Kaj Dentler noted that he will be presenting the next fiscal year’s budget at the end of February and it would be ideal to have all seven seats on the council filled prior to then.
In a separate motion, the council also voted to accept Reid’s resignation. Several council members took time on Tuesday night to thank him for his service to the town. Reid was not present for this week’s council meetings and it is not known if he will attend the council’s second set of November meetings before his resignation takes effect.