Burk Will Seek Third Mayoral Term in Leesburg

Leesburg’s 2020 election landscape continues to take shape, with Kelly Burk announcing that she will seek another mayoral term.

A re-election victory would bring Burk closer to the two-decade mark of public service. She was first elected to the Town Council in 2004 and served three years of her four-year council term before being elected as the Leesburg District representative on the county Board of Supervisors. After losing her re-election bid to Ken Reid four years later, she had only a brief hiatus from political life, as she was re-elected to the Town Council in an April 2011 special election to fill Reid’s unexpired council term. She won a 2014 re-election bid to that seat before throwing her hat in the ring for mayor for the first time in 2016. In both the 2016 and 2018 mayoral races she won by large margins in three-person races to both sitting and former council members.

Although the town has grown considerably since her first council run, and many can argue she is now a household name throughout Loudoun, her campaign strategy remains the same. 

“I run as myself and I don’t consider who’s running against me,” she said. “It’s all about what vision do I have, what do I want to accomplish, and how am I going to do it. It doesn’t matter to me who’s the opposition.”

But while running campaigns is nothing new to Burk, this year looks to be entirely different than previous campaigns, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. She plans to forego campaign events, including a kickoff, for now, and is also asking residents to donate to Loudoun Hunger Relief rather than making a campaign contribution. 

During her first three years as mayor, the retired special education teacher has learned it’s a full-time job being the county seat’s top elected representative. Although she feels much has been accomplished in the past few years, there is still more work to be done. She says fiscal management and strong leadership are “crucial” as the town deals with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

Looking towards the future, Burk points to the environment as a top priority.

“Environmental issues are going to be front and center for me this year,” she said. “I want to make Leesburg the greenest town in Virginia with programs that enhance and protect our environment.”

Outside of the physical environment, she also wants to make sure Leesburg is a welcoming environment to do business in and grow the economic base, and that development does not negatively infringe on the quality of life for existing residents and businesses but instead positively contributes to the community. On quality of life, Burk said she would also like to continue to foster the growth of the local arts movement.

Finally, she points to public safety and a multi-pronged transportation solution as important areas of focus.

Although she acknowledges the town’s considerable growth, and current top ranking as the commonwealth’s largest town, Burk said she wants to hold on to the town’s special identity.

“Even as Leesburg grows it most certainly still has that feel of a small town where people feel like they’re part of something important and significant,” she said.

Although she has many goals for her time as mayor, one achievement she has no aims on pursuing is beating the mayoral service record of one of her predecessors and close personal friends, longtime former mayor and current Leesburg District Supervisor Kristen Umstattd. Umstattd served as mayor for 14 years before her election to the county board, and was a member of the council for a decade prior to that.

“I think Kristen will hold the record for many more years to come. I am very pleased to bow to her fortitude in running seven re-election campaigns every two years,” Burk said with a laugh. “But I do have more years [as mayor] in me.”

Burk is thus far the only candidate to announce a bid for the mayor’s seat. The filing deadline is June 9.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

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