Letter: Ron Campbell, Leesburg

Editor:  I am usually never surprised when it comes to what politicians are capable of when they plot to deceive the public but Monday night at the Leesburg Town Council meeting, I was astonished at the speed of the deception. The special meeting was called to review the applications of the Leesburg residents who had expressed an interest in the vacant town council seat and I was one of those who had expressed interest.

From the beginning it was clear that there was not going to be a proper process for vetting the résumés and Mayor Dave Butler said that they would simply nominate a name and keep voting until one person received four votes. Tom Dunn nominated someone with no introduction of that person or discussion of why he nominated them or how they would bring value to the citizens of Leesburg. On the first and only ballot that person received the four votes. Period. It was all over.

If the democratic process is to represent a fair and open process, then the Town Council failed miserably. This set-up was in long before the vote and the same four that voted for Dave Butler to fill the mayor’s seat voted again to replace Butler’s open seat with a candidate of their choosing. In fact, a nameplate had already been prepared for this person long before the vote was taken. This could be witnessed as I watched the rest of the Town Council meeting on television.

The process tonight was an insult to the 16 qualified people that took time to submit their letters of interest and résumés for the open position. Monday night’s action should be a wake up call to all of us in Leesburg that the once non-partisan desire for the Town Council maybe was never a reality but has clearly become partisan. This fact should concern the residents of Leesburg as it limits the ability of all voices to be heard and limits the effectiveness of your elected leaders to properly represent your concerns on the local, county and state levels.

I am running for Leesburg Town Council in November to bring Leesburg back to the citizens. I want to represent all the voices of Leesburg and not the few in power. I am running to engage the residents of Leesburg in a meaningful way so that we can develop a governing relationship and hear your voice when we vote on issues that affect the communities you live in, the budget, the taxes you pay and the services and programs you receive. Monday night’s process and outcome reinforced the fact  that your voice does not matter. Your vote is the only thing that these politicians will listen to and only if they fear being voted out.

I hope to earn your vote in November and ask that all of us pay closer attention to the important matters before the Town Council between now and then. Please understand that your vote matters if you want to keep Leesburg moving forward.

The time has come for change.

Ron Campbell, Leesburg

2 thoughts on “Letter: Ron Campbell, Leesburg

  • 2016-02-23 at 3:45 pm

    I certainly agree with Ron that the process we have for appointing interim Council Members could be improved, and I was also surprised at the short length of the meeting. The council uses the normal process from Robert’s Rules where the first person nominated that receives a majority is selected. This is unfair to other applicants, especially when it occurs on the first nomination (as it also did in 2008 when Dave Schmidt was selected as interim council member). As Mayor, I will be asking the Town Attorney for legal alternatives that we can codify for the next time we have a position to fill.

    I would also like to point out a couple of items in Ron’s letter that might give people the wrong impression:
    (1) While the process we followed was the default one, the council had the opportunity to discuss all 16 candidates in a closed session, which is allowed in Virginia, and often used. Unfortunately, only Suzanne Fox and I were willing to do this. The other four council members preferred the approach we took.

    (2) The nameplate in question was not previously created. It consists of a sheet of paper, printed off of a laser printer immediately after the meeting, folded around a core, and inserted into the plate. Mine is still like that. I do agree that they look very good and can fool from a distance.

    (3) The interim appointment process is rarely partisan. We’ve had four appointments since 2008. In all four cases, the person was appointed with at least one Democrat, one Republican, and one Independent. In fact, very few council decisions are strongly partisan, especially when compared with Richmond or D.C.

    I wish Ron good luck this fall, it’s great to see enthusiasm in council candidates.

    Dave Butler
    Mayor, Leesburg
    (703) 771-0996

  • 2016-02-25 at 8:34 pm

    Mr. Butler,
    Just a few thoughts for your consideration;
    (1) You could call what happened on Monday night a default process but that would mean that you had a real process in place that somehow failed. The closed session idea was brought up by Council member Fox because there was no plan on how the applications would be reviewed before the meeting began. None of the council members knew what the plan was to process the 16 applications in a public forum.
    (2) If you want to point to the past interim appointments since 2008, then you are implying that you should have learned something from these experiences to produce a better process.
    (3) You can’t be serious to suggest that the actions of the council are rarely partisan because Leesburg is not Richmond or DC. I don’t think it is in their charters to elect members to a non partisan council. To suggest that there was no partisanship in your appointment or the appointment on Monday night is surprising given the alignment of the votes it took to accomplish both appointments.
    (4) And finally, as we all move past what happened Monday night, rest assured that the lessons learned in 2016 will not be soon forgotten and many will work hard to make sure that changes are made so that history does not repeat itself.

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