A majority of the Leesburg Town Council has sent Gov. Ralph Northam a letter expressing its viewpoints on the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Four members of the council signed the letter—council members Tom Dunn, Ron Campbell, Suzanne Fox, and Josh Thiel. Signatures from Mayor Kelly Burk, Vice Mayor Marty Martinez, and Councilman Neil Steinberg do not appear on the letter. When the council voted last Tuesday to send the letter to Northam, the motion noted that it was optional for council members to sign it.
The letter does request that Northam review the stay-at-home order date of June 10 every seven to 15 days.
“We want to be able to communicate with the public the progress of our Commonwealth’s timely decision making,” the letter said. “We believe that this will provide hope to many people across the Commonwealth. This review should be based on factual COVID-19 information as it impacts Virginia.”
The crux of the letter revolves around the desire for more information, particularly regarding the stay-at-home order.
“We believe, as you do, that the private sector has been asked to make sacrifices, and citizens by the thousands have lost jobs. The longer everyone is ordered to stay at home, the longer the recovery time. There may also be confusion when businesses are allowed to be re-opened, but their customers are still being told to remain home until June 10,” the letter said.
The letter also asks for data to be shared regarding the financial impact of the stay-at-home order and ban on non-essential businesses which have been forced to close.
The letter ends with a plea for Northam to consider the impacts of the pandemic on the November elections, and to either push back the June 9 filing deadline to July 15, or waive the signature requirement for candidates. Currently, Town Council candidates are required to obtain a minimum of 125 signatures of registered town voters on their petitions, which must also be notarized.
“It is not reasonable that potential candidates who are seeking to serve their community must place themselves at risk while asking voters to place themselves at risk to get signatures for their petitions,” the letter said.