The Year in Review: A Year of Leadership Shakeups for Loudoun’s Towns

The landscape in western Loudoun’s six town offices this year was a bit more transformative than it’s been in the recent years, even with the anticipated shakeups from the May 1 municipal elections.

In addition to 16 new faces emerging across all six town councils, there was a good deal of town staff turnover in all but two of the towns. That included town manager hires in Purcellville and Lovettsville and town administrator hires in Round Hill and Middleburg.

On the Purcellville Town Council, Karen Jimmerson was the first to step down in April. In the May elections, Mayor Kwasi Fraser was re-elected for a third consecutive term, beating out lifetime town resident Chris Thompson. Tip Stinnette and Joel Grewe were elected for their first times alongside Councilman Ted Greenly, who was appointed to fill a vacancy in November 2017 when Kelli Grim resigned. Doug McCollum opted to not run for a second term on the council.

In the town office, David Mekarski was hired in March as the town’s eighth permanent town manager. He replaced John Anzivino, who worked in the role on an interim basis for four months until Mekarski’s first day on April 16.

Purcellville Town Manager David Mekarski.

The town in February also hired Dawn Ashbacher, the former town manager of Sykesville, MD, as its interim public works director. Ashbacher held that role until October, when the town hired Buster Nicholson, Round Hill’s former town administrator, as the new full-time public works director.

The Lovettsville Town Council and office saw even more turnover in 2018, with 13 different councilmembers casting their votes on the dais at one point or another and three different town managers leading the town.

It started in February, when Councilman Mike Dunlap was appointed to fill a vacancy left by Rob Gentile’s December resignation. A month later, Tony Quintana was appointed to fill a vacancy left by Tiffany Carder when she stepped down to fulfill her duties as the Lovettsville Library assistant librarian.

In the May elections, former councilman Nate Fontaine was elected as mayor, beating out Kris Consaul and replacing three-term mayor Bob Zoldos. Renee Edmonston and Councilmen Chris Hornbaker and Matthew Schilling were also elected for a first time, with Dunlap winning a seat in an unopposed special election.

Former councilwoman Kimberly Allar did not seek re-election, while Vice Mayor Jim McIntyre was the only councilmember not on the ballot to remain on the dais.

The council’s complexion changed just 67 days later when Edmonston resigned on Sept. 6, citing Dunlap’s “demeaning, degrading, borderline harassment behavior” as her motivation to do so. Mike Senate also announced his resignation that same day.

Lovettsville Town Manager Rob Ritter.

On Oct. 18, the Town Council voted to appoint Rebekah Ontiveros and David Steadman to fill those vacancies until the Feb. 5, 2019 special election. While Steadman will run unopposed for the seat with a term that expires in 2022, Ontiveros and former planning commissioner Buchanan Smith will run for the seat with a term that expires in 2020.

In Lovettsville’s town office, Larry Hughes was appointed in August to serve as interim town manager, following Sam Finz’s July 6 retirement. The council voted in November to appoint Rob Ritter as permanent town manager.

The Town of Middleburg was also subject to more change than it’s seen in recent years and was home to the most heavily contested Town Council race in the county.

Lifelong town resident and former councilman Bridge Littleton was elected as mayor, beating out Economic Development Advisory Committee Chairman Vincent Bataoel and former Councilman Mark Snyder to replace Betsy Davis after 12 consecutive years. On the council, Vice Mayor Darlene Kirk and Councilmen Peter Leonard-Morgan and Kevin Hazard were re-elected, with Cindy Pearson elected for a first time. The council appointed former councilwoman Bundles Murdock to fill the seat vacated by Littleton, until Chris Bernard was elected in the Nov. 6 special election to take over until the term expires in June 2020.

Town Administrator Danny Davis.

In Middleburg’s office, Danny Davis was appointed as town administrator on Oct. 31 to replace Martha Semmes, who retired in December after serving in the role for eight years.

The shakeups continued in the Town of Round Hill, as three new Town Councilmembers came in and a new town administrator took charge.

In the May 1 elections, Mayor Scott Ramsey was re-elected for a fifth term in an unopposed race. Councilman Fred Lyne also ran unopposed and was re-elected. With Chris Prack and Janet Heston not running for re-election, Amy Evers and Donald Allen were voted onto the council via write-in ballots. Melissa Hoffmann was also appointed to the Town Council in December to fill a vacancy by Michael Minshall’s September resignation. Hoffmann will serve until the Nov. 5, 2019 special election.

In the town office, the council voted on Oct. 4 to appoint former Town Planner Melissa Hynes as town administrator, replacing Buster Nicholson after he left to become Purcellville’s Public Works Director.

Round Hill Town Administrator Melissa Hynes.

The Towns of Hillsboro and Hamilton were on the other side of all the turnover in 2018, with Hillsboro seeing only two changes to its council and Hamilton seeing none.

In Hillsboro, Stephen Moskal was appointed in February to fill a vacancy left by Belle Ware. In May, Laney Oxman was appointed to fill a vacancy left by John Dean. In the Nov. 6 election, Moskal and Oxman were voted in for a first time, with Mayor Roger Vance, Vice Mayor Amy Marasco and Councilmembers Claudia Forbes and Bill Johnston all re-elected.

In Hamilton’s May 1 election, Mayor David Simpson was re-elected for a second four-year term, with Councilmembers Rebecca Jones, Craig Green and Michael Snyder all voted back in. All four ran unopposed.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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