Butler Tapped as Leesburg’s Next Mayor

The Town of Leesburg has a new mayor following a Monday night special meeting.

Councilman David Butler will slide down the Town Council dais a few seats, as he won the four votes to be appointed mayor. He was supported by council members Tom Dunn, Katie Hammler and Suzanne Fox.

The vote followed a debate that lasted almost a month over who would be best to fill the seat formerly occupied by Kristen Umstattd, who won election as the Leesburg District representative for the county Board of Supervisors in November. Her resignation was effective Dec. 31, 2015, and Vice Mayor Kelly Burk has served as acting town mayor since then.

The matter of appointing a mayor to fill the remainder of Umstattd’s term, which will expire on Dec. 31, was first discussed at the council’s Jan. 11 work session. While it seemed to be the will of the majority of the council at that work session was that a sitting council member be appointed to the mayor’s seat, the following night no council member nominated for appointment received the necessary four votes. Another try at a vote was anticipated for two weeks later, but the council’s second set of January meetings was cancelled because of the winter storm.

Councilmen Dave Butler (right) and Tom Dunn confer during a special meeting to elect Leesburg's new mayor.
Councilmen Dave Butler (right) and Tom Dunn confer during a special meeting to elect Leesburg’s new mayor.

Butler and Fox called for a special meeting. It was initially scheduled for last Wednesday but was rescheduled to allow all six council members to be present.

Tonight’s meeting began much the way the Jan. 11 meeting ended. Several motions were put forward that deadlocked and did not receive the four votes necessary to make the appointment. Burk introduced an initial motion to solicit residents interested in being considered for the mayor’s post. That motion failed 3-3, with Hammler, Fox and Dunn opposed. Hammler then made a motion to appoint former Town Council member Terry Titus, who served as council member for several terms in the 1970s, as well as for a four-month interim appointment in 2012. That motion also deadlocked, with Fox, Butler and Dunn opposed.

Hammler made the motion to appoint Butler. She noted that she believed Butler would make an “effective” mayor, having served on the Town Council for almost eight years and was previously vice mayor. She noted her preference to have a sitting member of the council appointed as mayor, and said she was not able to find four votes to support herself, Councilman Marty Martinez or Burk, all of whom have also been on the council for an extended time and were prior vice mayors.

Leesburg Vice Mayor Kelly Burk
Leesburg Vice Mayor Kelly Burk

Following the vote to appoint Butler, the meeting recessed in anticipation of Clerk of the Circuit Court Gary Clemens’ arrival to formally swear in Butler as the town’s new mayor. Butler was sworn in and then the six-member council found what has been eluding them for a month—a unanimous vote.

The council agreed unanimously to advertise for residents interested in serving the remainder of Butler’s council term to apply.

The motion, made by Hammler, will allow the town to advertise for the open council seat for five business days. Hammler asked that town staff coordinate with council members to find a time to hold an additional special meeting next week to make that appointment. The member of the public selected for Butler’s former council seat will serve until Dec. 31. A special election is not needed to fill that seat, as Butler’s council term will be up for election in November’s general elections.



3 thoughts on “Butler Tapped as Leesburg’s Next Mayor

  • 2016-02-08 at 9:24 pm

    Congratulations to Interim Mayor Butler. Glad the Council got this issue over with so they can move on to confronting pressing town business.

  • 2016-02-09 at 4:55 pm

    I agree with Ken Reid that it is a good thing that Leesburg Town Council has finally found a person to back-fill the mayor’s chair vacated by Kristen Umstaddt when she became a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on 1 January and Dave Butler is a good choice. However, I am puzzled why it took so long and by several things that happened at the Monday meeting (which I attended). I am also wondering what is next and what went on behind the scenes so that Democrat Dave Butler received all three votes from the Republican members of the Leesburg Town council? I also wonder why it is ok to now go outside of council members to find someone to fill a vacated council seat (Mayor Butler’s) but it was not ok to go out side of council members to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Umstaddt. Lastly, your reporter did not mention that both Dave Butler and Vice Mayor Kelly Burk are candidates for mayor in November so did this have any bearing on the issue? (stay tuned as they used to say on the Saturday Afternoon Chapters), I also wondered why Kelly Burk, as the vice mayor did not automatically become mayor? I did hear Councilman Dunn say that since Kelly Burk had not been elected to the Vice Mayor’s position by the People of Leesburg (she was voted in by the members of the council) this could not happen. I was waiting to hear from the Town Attorney, who was present, on this issue but she was never asked to comment (perhaps silence is consent?). Lastly I did not hear anyone mention that the council was waiting for Clerk of the Court Gary Clemons to come and administer the oath. All I heard was a call for a FIVE minute break (which lasted much longer) and then there was a lot of “milling around mill” a very uncomfortable wait, mostly in silence. I think there is a bigger story here and I can hardly wait for the next meeting to see who does become the person who will fill the seat that Dave Butler held. (FULL DISCLOSURE I am not applying). “…and the adventure continues”.

  • 2016-02-10 at 12:02 am

    The grown-ups in the room last night were Kelly Burk and Marty Martinez. There is plenty of politics here with Butler taking the seat. Marty Martinez urged this Council to allow public input last night yet his pleading was recognized as being opened to the thought yet ultimately ignored by the rush and excitement of the moment which included side bar meetings, whispers, and back room dealing Dave Butler and his flock of sheep that chased him down as if he was the Sheppard. It was really something to watch if you were there in person. We have a council driven by big egos and you saw once again leaders who say they are change agents ignoring the voice of the people to take a vote without public input. Think about that when you vote and when these individuals are up for reelection. After it was suggested by Marty Martinez to have public input his motion was silenced by the junior council person who was rushed to move the process along. And so it went with a room full of whispers and side dealing going on, a weird and very awkward 5 minute recess called by Dave Butler that lasted 30+ minutes and ultimately his swearing in. Many who attended the meeting were once again left disappointed and stunned and that lack of common courtesy this Council showed. but should it be a shock? No because they react time and time again the same way as if they are elitists yet crawl back to the public asking for cash when it is their turn for reelection. 2016 has to be the year Leesburg wakes up and votes those that are up for reelection out. No more tired retreads. How about candidates who actually live by the words of their campaign and respect the people of their community seeking advice not just from a small coalition but by all those door knocks they are so proud to document during the campaign season yet you never hear about during non-election years. Our town can do so much better. Thank you Kelly Burk and Marty Martinez for recognizing the voice of the town’s citizens yet was silenced by the rest of council. Town business must move on but the stink will last until November until the people demand change in leadership and the juvenile almost high school like gossip sessions are called out for what they are.

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