On the Ballot: Leesburg Votes on Tuesday

The Leesburg Town Council special election scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6, brings with it three familiar faces.

It will be the second time on the council ballot for Gwen Pangle and Joshua Thiel, runners-up in the council elections of November 2016 and November 2017, respectively. It will be the first time on a ballot for Neil Steinberg, although he considered running last fall.

None of the three could have predicted a winter-time special election, triggered by former Town Council member Ken Reid’s surprise resignation announcement in mid-November. The winner Tuesday will serve the almost three years remaining on his council term, which expires Dec. 31, 2020. A swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, prior to the victor’s first Town Council meeting.

For Leesburg, it will be the first time a Town Council election has been held outside of November in almost six years. The county seat had traditionally held its Town Council elections in May of even-numbered years before a successful voter referendum in 2011 prompted the switch to November. Turnout—and, perhaps, weather—promises to be a major factor in who will be Leesburg’s next council member, and the three candidates in line for the job have spent the condensed campaigning period beating the streets, knocking doors, and getting their messages out there.

Below is a glimpse at these council member-hopefuls’ priorities and promises.

Polls open Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. For more information on where to vote, visit loudoun.gov/voting.

Gwen Pangle

Gwen Pangle
(Photo by Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now)

Occupation: President and CEO of Pangle & Associates, Realtor, retired registered nurse

Neighborhood: Lowenbach

Campaign website/Facebook page: pangleforcouncil.com, facebook.com/pangleforcouncil

Loudoun Now: What are your top three priorities if elected to the Town Council?

  1. Work with council, staff and residents to make sure Leesburg has an updated plan and a clear vision about where we are headed and what we want Leesburg to be.
  2. Make sure our budget reflects our priorities for the future.
  3. Encourage conversations about our nighttime economy and promote measured, well thought out economic development.

LN: What do you believe your strengths as a council member would be, and how would you differentiate yourself from the other candidates?

Leesburg is fortunate to have three candidates who bring varied skill sets and who seek a more moderate, people-focused council, willing to work together, respect each other, and find solutions to issues that benefit the citizens and not the party.

My leadership and communication skills coupled with my consistent involvement in the downtown are notable strengths. I am a champion for small business, women in business, and property rights to name the ones that come immediately to mind. Injustice, divisiveness, inequality and intolerance tend to get me fired up as well.

I am a seeker of truth and I understand that our lives and experiences shape our “truths”. Willingness to listen to perspectives that aren’t like yours makes for conversations and solutions that ultimately drive change at every level of our lives.

Each of us must be the change, live the change, and not settle for silence at any level of government or in our personal lives.

Neil Steinberg

Neil Steinberg

Occupation: Professional photographer and owner of Photoworks

Neighborhood: Woodberry Road

Campaign website/Facebook page: forsteinberg.com, facebook.com/ForSteinberg

LN: What are your top three priorities if elected to the Town Council?

1. Leesburg’s future: The future of Leesburg is a matter of concern to all residents. I oppose the current effort to fast track development applications because it will reduce the opportunity for residents to become informed and to provide input. It is the responsibility of members of the council to listen to the concerns of residents, such as those who live in the vicinity of Westpark. The council should not turn many of our most important decisions about development over to staff, as has been proposed. In the end it is the elected representatives who are held accountable for the town’s progress.

My vision for the future of Leesburg includes protecting our historic past and planning for a future that welcomes people of different incomes, different backgrounds, different talents; single people and people with children. Planning for Leesburg’s future must include consideration of 21st century technology. Is Internet access in Leesburg satisfactory and within reach of all Leesburg residents? Will access be satisfactory in five years? Do we have the appropriate security for our systems? As the Internet expands, can we improve services available online?

2. Transportation: Good transportation planning is essential for Leesburg with its growing population. Leesburg needs a comprehensive transportation system that includes buses, walking trails and bike lanes and finished sidewalks. Are we prepared for the future, which will include autonomous vehicles? All transportation must be designed for the safety of pedestrians and bike riders. The bus system has to meet the needs of those who are unable to drive or choose not to, including stops at the newer shopping locations and covered shelters. I will evaluate proposals for future development in light of its impact on traffic, bike and pedestrian safety, and parking. The Town Council should honor its promises to residents, such as its commitment to Kincaid Boulevard residents that Crosstrail Boulevard be completed before opening the southern end of Kincaid.

3. Meeting Needs of Leesburg Residents: The Town Council must ensure that the needs of our residents are being met. This includes basic services such as water and sewer, road maintenance, snow removal, and trash pickup. However, as a member of the Town Council, I will also consider how to meet other needs and desires of residents. I supported the expansion of sidewalks in downtown Leesburg because people wanted King Street to be more welcoming to pedestrians and diners. Leesburg needs a balance of shopping locations, restaurants, open space, public art and options for entertainment both for adults and our youth.

LN: What do you believe your strengths as a council member would be, and how would you differentiate yourself from the other candidates?

I intend to be a well-prepared, patient listener who has a 40-year perspective on Leesburg and Loudoun County. I started Photoworks, my downtown small business, with my wife KD Kidder in 1979, and I have watched as Leesburg has changed dramatically. I love living and working in Leesburg and I am committed to its economic well-being and its environment. Leesburg must be a community where all of us want to work and live, now and in the future.

Joshua

Joshua Thiel
[Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now]
Occupation: Project Manager and senior consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton

Neighborhood: Crescent Place

Campaign website/Facebook page: ThielforLeesburg.com, facebook.com/ThielforLeesburg

LN: What are your top three priorities if elected to the Town Council?

I am running on a platform of safe streets, ending double taxation, and turning around our traffic congestion for good. We are spending more time in our cars than with our families and we need to fix that. I want to save Westpark Golf Course from development. I also am very skeptical of the county considering building a 5,000-seat stadium south of Leesburg, which could overwhelm neighborhoods with traffic. Also, to support/defend both business and private citizen personal property rights.

LN: What do you believe your strengths as a council member would be, and how would you differentiate yourself from the other candidates?

I grew up in Leesburg and hope to help everyone who helped me get to where I am today. As a youth leader at Leesburg Presbyterian and member of our town’s Economic Development Commission, I have learned the value of serving the public and intend to do more as a council member. I also wish to give back to my community, having lived in Leesburg since grade school, attended Loudoun Public Schools and becoming a great soccer player due to our youth programs, which helped me to secure two seasons in the NFL as a place kicker.

The council and taxpayers will benefit from my managerial experience, and willingness to keep an open mind on issues, while scrutinizing taxes, spending and regulations that keep business and jobs from locating to our town. I will bring the balance back to the Town Council so it represents you better.


View the Forum: Candidates for Leesburg’s Special Election Josh Thiel, Gwen Pangle and Neil Steinberg take part in Monday’s candidate forum sponsored by Loudoun Now.

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