The Leesburg Town Council has too many important items on its agenda to get bogged down in clumsy political maneuvering over who should hold the gavel at meetings and lead ribbon-cutting ceremonies over the next 11 months.
Yet that was the situation heading into Tuesday’s meeting when council members found themselves divided by a blend of partisan stonewalling and personal ambition while attempting to choose the town’s next mayor.
The one thing on which the majority agreed is that it was only one of them who was qualified to serve as the interim mayor, filling the seat held by Kristen Umstattd for 13 years, until voters have their say in November. Yet when it came time to vote, a majority couldn’t find one.
It didn’t take long to miss Mayor Umstattd’s leadership.
The Town Council chambers shouldn’t be a playground for Democrats or Republicans to champion partisan agendas. And those believing they are best qualified to serve as mayor shouldn’t be worried about who might get a leg up on them at the dais, but should be demonstrating their best leadership qualities to voters.
A council that includes members who want to take on more government complexity by operating as an independent city can’t even assemble four votes to appoint a stand-in mayor? That’s disappointing.
Also disappointing is that this council would rather have a county judge make the appointment than to invite other town residents to temporarily fill the post.
The council members’ high opinion of their unique abilities notwithstanding, there certainly are plenty of qualified, and less partisan, candidates willing to step in. Wading into that pool of resources—not deferring to the courts—should be the next step in the mayoral search.