Editorial: A Big Job

Tuesday is another Election Day in Leesburg.

By November, the town’s voters will have been called to the polls four times in two years and every seat at the council dais will have been on the ballot—some twice.

That level of campaigning leaves the Town Council in a remarkable state of flux and uncertainty, and adds significantly to the challenge of leading a municipality in the midst of a growth surge. The current council slate is divided on many development issues, and frequently a single vote determines the scale and design of Leesburg’s newest communities.

Construction is underway at two of the town’s largest new residential neighborhoods—Meadowbrook and Crescent Parke—on what had been two of the town’s few remaining large undeveloped tracts. In the short term, the council will be asked to set the vision for the rest—including vacant land in the East Market Street corridor, now under study in the Eastern Gateway planning exercise; and key redevelopment sites, including the Shenandoah Square shopping center as Walmart plans its move to a new store on the south side of town, and the former Times-Mirror property downtown. As the town reaches buildout, these projects take on increased importance. They represent some of the final opportunities to ensure the town’s residential and business needs will be met in the long term. It will be critical to get the planning and zoning done right.

Yes, development issues are just a part of the council’s regimen. Fiscal prudence, a dedication to public safety and health, and promoting a high quality of life are basic requirements to guide the day-to-day operations of government leaders. But if the development decisions go wrong, the impact is long lasting, with the fallout felt by generations.

Thus the importance, at this point in the town’s history, of getting the right people in the seats to make those decisions. Council work is a serious, roll-up-your-sleeves style of community service. Residents haven’t been—and won’t be—well served by partisan panderers or political opportunists; the job is bigger than that.

And that brings us back to Tuesday. Three longtime town residents have stepped up to do their part in guiding Leesburg’s future. Voters have two responsibilities: learn more about the capabilities and priorities of each candidate, and don’t leave the decision on who should serve to a relative handful of their neighbors.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6. We hope to see you there.

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