Purcellville residents will head to the polls in May to decide if they’d like to see Mayor Kwasi Fraser extend his six-year tenure on the dais by another two years.
Fraser announced Monday he would seek re-election in the May 5 town elections. He will go up against former councilwoman Beverly Chiasson, who announced her run for mayor on Dec. 30.
“I will continue to provide an innovative approach to government, to monetize our assets, and to construct creative ways to reduce the town’s debt without imposing additional financial burdens to our citizens,” Fraser stated in the Feb. 24 announcement. “The pressure from the development community is never ending, and we need a strong leader who will keep promises and remain committed once elected.”
According to his statement, in Fraser’s six years as mayor, the town has increased its non-tax revenue, reduced its debt by more than $7 million dollars and welcomed over 80 new businesses in the past two years. Fraser also re-established the Purcellville Train Station Advisory Board, helped to reorganize the Coalition of Loudoun Towns—a non-legislative group comprised of the county’s seven town mayors—and initiated a Comprehensive Plan update, which the Town Council is expected to adopt before July.
Fraser stated he is focused on transparency, innovation and fiscal responsibility, along with slow growth, low tax rates, infrastructure enhancement and working to generate revenue from town-owned properties. “He will stand firm on slow growth, prudent economic development, operational efficiencies, sensible zoning, and working with officials to improve transportation and other infrastructure needs,” his statement reads.
“Over the next two years, the town will be working on the all-important zoning ordinance,” Fraser stated. “It is essential to have a leader who, adhering to the will of the people, will guide Purcellville in the right direction.”
Fraser’s slow-growth policy has led the Town Council in recent years to reject multiple annexation requests. One of those was for a 50-acre Purcellville Crossroads mixed-use development adjacent to the Wright Farm neighborhood, which the council voted to reject for annexation in November 2016. Another came in October 2018, when the council voted to reject annexation of the 131-acre Warner Brook Property.
Since Fraser was first elected in May 2014, the town has also dealt with controversy stemming from multiple investigations into allegations of town staff misconduct and mismanagement.
In late summer 2017, the former interim town manager initiated an investigation into now-discredited claims of misconduct against the police chief. That ended with the chief’s firing and subsequent re-instatement when it was found that the interim town manager mismanaged the investigation.
Those incidents led to multiple other investigations and lawsuits. The town has since settled with the police chief, and another unidentified police department employee, but continues to sort through Cpl. Kristopher Fraley’s lawsuit.
Fraser has beaten his opponents in each of the last three mayoral elections by an average of 400 votes. In 2014, he beat one-term councilman J. Keith Melton, Jr. by 329 votes. In 2016, he beat two-term councilwoman Joan Lehr by 651 votes. And in 2018, he beat Purcellville native Chris Thompson by 221 votes.
In each of the last three town elections, voter turnout for the mayoral race has increased by 21 percent, from 1,410 in 2014 to 1,711 in 2018.
In the four other towns that will hold elections this May—Hamilton, Lovettsville, Middleburg and Round Hill—first-term Lovettsville Mayor Nate Fontaine, first-term Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton and five-term Round Hill Mayor Scott Ramsey have already filed their candidacy paperwork for re-election.