Leesburg Town Councilman and mayoral candidate Ron Campbell has fired back regarding the fallout from a council special meeting.
In a press conference Tuesday evening on the Town Green, Campbell denounced recent allegations that he said had conducted a smear campaign against Mayor Kelly Burk.
The council convened in a special meeting June 1, which was called at the request of Campbell and council colleague Joshua Thiel. After the council voted not to enter into closed session to discuss allegations about a public official, Campbell revealed to reporters that the person in question was Burk. He said he had been told by witnesses that the mayor was seen intoxicated the evening of May 16 leaving Tuscarora Mill Restaurant and was even seen falling in the parking lot before driving away. Burk strongly denied the allegations.
On Tuesday, Campbell responded specifically to a Loudoun Times-Mirror article from last week where comments attributed to Thiel alleged that this may have been part of a political maneuver by Burk’s challenger. Campbell said it is he who is now the victim of a smear campaign.
“The mayor told a bold lie in saying that I asked Councilman Thiel to conspire to smear her for political purposes and somehow got the Loudoun Times-Mirror to participate in her conspiracy to try to politically assassinate me. These same allegations are now being repeated in an email sent out yesterday by the Loudoun County Democratic chair, Al Nevarez, who is attempting to maliciously defame my character and provide partisan support to influence the outcome of the November election in Leesburg. This is what a real political smear campaign looks like, the spreading of lies to influence party members to gain an endorsement for the mayor,” Campbell said.
In recent months, Campbell started an online petition to encourage the LCDC to change its bylaws to allow its members to support independents and not just the Democratic-endorsed candidates for election. Both he and Burk were endorsed by the LCDC in the November 2016 Town Council elections, but Campbell is running in this year’s mayoral contest as an independent. Officially, town races are nonpartisan.
Campbell noted that the emails sent back and forth among council members are available via the Freedom of Information Act and back up his claim that he sought only to have a closed-door meeting of the council to discuss the incident, rather than airing it publicly.
“At this time, I profess that I have no confidence in the mayor or any elected officials who would willfully tell such blatant lies and conspire with others to challenge the integrity of other elected officials, just to cover up their own behaviors that fall short,” Campbell said. “I believe that the issues that have been exposed show weaknesses in the current Mayor of the Town of Leesburg at a time when we have many important decisions that will impact future generations to come.”
Campbell also accused council members Tom Dunn and Marty Martinez, who also voted against entering into a closed session along with Burk and Councilwoman Vanessa Maddox, of contributing “to these lies of a smear campaign for their own political purposes.” Dunn has also announced his intentions to run for the mayoral seat in November.
In his closing comments, Campbell vowed to continue to work for residents, and not a political party, with honesty and integrity.
Thiel has declined to publicly address the allegations against Burk, or the comments attributed to him in the Loudoun Times-Mirror article. Reached after the press conference, Thiel said his focus “is getting back to the business of the people and helping to run the town.”