Thiel Wins Leesburg Council Seat

In his second campaign for town office, Joshua P. Thiel has landed a seat on the Leesburg Town Council, according to unofficial tallies in Tuesday’s special election.

In a three-way race, the 27-year-old outpaced Neil R. Steinberg and Gwen Pangle. Thiel and Steinberg traded the lead as votes were reported by election officers in the town’s 12 voting precincts. In the end, Thiel got 1,484 votes, Steinberg 1,334, and Pangle 423.

Turnout was 11.38 percent.

Thiel will fill the seat vacated by Councilman Ken Reid, who stepped down when he took a job out of the region. The term will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

Reid came to Black Hoof Brewing on Tuesday night to congratulate Thiel in person. Reid, in tears, told him, “You don’t know what it means to see you win this council seat.”

Thiel is now the youngest elected official in Northern Virginia, 28-year-old Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) announced at the victory party after the results were announced. “It’s good to see fresh faces in local politics—fresh faces, fresh ideas,” Meyer said.

Thiel’s family moved to Leesburg when he was 10. He attended Cool Spring Elementary, Harper Park Middle, and Heritage High schools. After college, he pursued an NFL kicking career before returning to Leesburg where he and his wife, Abigail, bought a home in the Crescent Place neighborhood.

Leesburg Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox said that she first met Thiel a little over a year ago when he asked that she consider appointing him to the council seat vacated by Mayor Kelly Burk.     “I knew right away that he’d make a great councilmember,” she said, adding that he’s energetic and hard working. “We have a lot of diversity on the council, but we don’t have a millennial.”

Thiel told supporters gathered at the King Street brewery that they can expect him to fight against the opening of Kincaid Boulevard to traffic created by the future DC United stadium and against the development of the Westpark Golf Club property—two of the hot button issues in recent weeks.

From left, School Board members Jill Turgeon and Eric DeKenipp watch the results roll in with Barbara Nixon at Josh Thiel’s victory party at Black Hoof Brewing. [Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now]
“Now it is time to get to work. I look forward to serving the town that I grew up in, be a part of a wonderful place, and being the next councilman of a great town.”

He commended Pangle and Steinberg for a hard-fought campaign. “They love this town and it showed throughout the entire campaign,” he said.

He also thanked his wife, parents, siblings, friends and supporters. “I wouldn’t be here without you all. So this is actually the town’s win.”

Although Steinberg told his supporters gathered at King’s Tavern that the loss was a “bummer,” he said he felt the election might play out the way it did—with the vote being split between he and Pangle. “We had a feeling if anything we might see exactly what we saw … and that would hand Josh the election,” he said.

When asked whether he would run again in November when three council seats along with the mayor’s chair will be on the ballot, Steinberg didn’t shut down the idea. “All I would say now is it’s a possibility,” he said. “There’s nothing definitive yet—no snap decisions right away.”

Reached for comment late Tuesday, Pangle said, “I want to thank everyone who helped me and believed in me over the last 10 weeks. I believe Josh will serve Leesburg well.”

Although municipal elections in Virginia are nonpartisan, Steinberg was formally endorsed by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee and Thiel was supported by Loudoun Republicans, although not officially endorsed in the race by the party’s county committee.

Thiel had also campaigned for a council seat in November, but lost to Vanessa Maddox in the bid to serve the final year of Kelly Burk’s term following her election as mayor. In that race, Maddox, who won by 356 votes over Thiel, will be back on the campaign trail this fall. In addition to Burk and Maddox, the seats held by Fox and Councilman Marty Martinez will be on the ballot in November. After that, the next scheduled town election is November 2020—perhaps a welcome reprieve to town leaders and voters alike.

Neil Steinberg watches results come in for the Leesburg Town Council election at King’s Tavern. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]
Josh Thiel, right, takes a selfie with supporter Michael Walsh at his victory party Tuesday. [Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now]

Leesburg Special Election Unofficial Results, Feb. 6, 2018

5 thoughts on “Thiel Wins Leesburg Council Seat

  • 2018-02-06 at 10:40 pm

    Congratulations to Josh for running a superlative campaign Also, many thanks to Councilmembers Suzanne Fox, Ron Campbell, Tom Dunn, and Rep Comstock and many other elected officials stopping by to wish Josh the best. I fully expect the three of them to work with Josh and dialog with him and hope Mayor Burk, Mr. Martinez and Ms. Maddox will do the same. Local government needs to be collaborative. Also, best wishes to Neil Steinberg and Gwen Pangle for their efforts. I fully expect them to stay involved. They are terrific business people and activists. Leesburg is blessed to have honest and great people in local government.

    • 2018-02-07 at 2:10 pm

      Mr Reid, I hope with your comment you are not implying Republican vs Democrat… I wish Theil had not looked for the Republican (or Democrat)
      endorsement. I would prefer he not be bought, and hopefully he won’t!

  • 2018-02-07 at 1:19 pm

    Congrats to Josh. Turns out this seat is better than the previous one since it lasts longer. Good things come to those that wait.

    Glad to see Leesburg has become so competitive. We are all better for it.

  • 2018-02-07 at 8:09 pm

    Good to see a new face. Need 4 new faces in november and 4 more new faces in 3 years. The current is really lacking on leadership and knowledge. If Council is going to be so ill informed then we ought to have all new people all the time.

  • 2018-02-08 at 9:04 am

    Congratulations Josh! Re: Westpark development – NO ZONING CHANGES! NO TEXT AMENDMENTS!

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