The ballot for November’s Leesburg Town Council election is quickly filling up in advance of the June 12 filing deadline.
And it appears the mayor’s race will be a three-person contest, with Councilman Tom Dunn the latest to announce his intention to challenge first-term mayor Kelly Burk.
Dunn confirmed his mayoral aspirations this week. It will be the third time the three-term council member has run for mayor. He lost to Kristen Umstattd, now the Leesburg District supervisor, in his previous bids.
Dunn said his decision to run for mayor is to give town residents an alternative to both Burk and fellow challenger Councilman Ron Campbell whom he described as “two liberal candidates.” His candidacy, he said, “gives people a chance on Election Day to choose someone other than two candidates who are basically the same.”
He cited the “lack of leadership” currently at the mayor’s post as an impetus for him to throw his hat in the ring. He criticized, in particular, the move to limit council member discussion, saying it was a way of limiting the input of “citizen representatives.”
“If you’re having a tough time running meetings, you get a bunch of regulations to run meetings the way you’d like them to be,” Dunn said.
Dunn, who was first elected to the council a decade ago, also said the council needs to be brought back to a “citizen representative body” rather than a “town government bureaucrat support body.”
“The Town Council of late has seemed to be one that thinks its job is to completely endorse town staff’s opinions and decisions rather than looking at the needs of citizens,” Dunn said. “I really want to see us get back to the way I see councils act. There are only 300 members of staff and most don’t live in town. We really need to represent the citizens.”
He cited traffic, economic development and the town’s regulatory process as key concerns for him. But Dunn said he believed the thing most at stake currently is historic preservation.
“Many people move to Leesburg because they say how quaint it is. There are efforts coming forward to slowly chip away at the foundation of the historic district,” he said. “If we lose that we really just become anywhere USA. We need to put a stronger focus back on historic preservation.”
Dunn said he was planning to have a campaign kickoff, but no date has been set as of yet. A campaign website is also in the works. He encouraged anyone interested in volunteering for his campaign to email firstname.lastname@example.org.