Ara Bagdasarian has announced his first bid for public office, and hopes to fill one of the three four-year term council seats on the ballot this November.
Although he’s never run for office before, Bagdasarian’s service to the town, county, and nation has been extensive. He and his business partner launched e2Campus, the world’s first campus emergency notification system, in 2004. His Leesburg-based company Omnilert provides emergency alerts to millions of students, employees, and residents in over 2,500 organizations. In a nod to his entrepreneurial pursuits, he co-authored “The Lemonhead Stand” book, which gave rise to the Lemonhead movement, as a “why-to” guide to entrepreneurship and how to turn ideas into reality. Bagdasarian also previously chaired the town’s Economic Development Commission, and has been involved in many local nonprofits, including founding his own, BENEFIT, in 2019.
“I am running because I love this town and I think we can do better. As an experienced CEO, entrepreneur, nonprofit leader, and resident I can bring my optimism, leadership and experience to bring Leesburg to the next level,” he said.
He and his family, which includes wife Patti and two children, have lived in Leesburg since 2000. Bagdasarian said he knew immediately when he drove down King Street for the first time that Leesburg was where he wanted his family to be. Although the Bagdasarians moved just slightly outside of town limits from 2010 to 2019, they moved to their current home in the historic district last year.
If elected, Bagdasarian said he has three priorities. The first focuses on where the town is now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and bringing forth economic recovery, “so Leesburg is even better than it was before the pandemic,” he said.
“We need to adapt, be creative. This is a new normal and we don’t know how long that is going to last,” he continued.
His second priority focuses on 21st century living, including having a walkable community that accommodates alternate modes of transportation, like rideshares and bicycles, and also encouraging more teleworking or coworking opportunities.
“What this pandemic has taught us is you can work from home remotely. It is possible. Looking for ways to encourage more of that is important for the next decade,” Bagdasarian said.
Finally, he wants to focus on smart growth. It includes making sure the town’s limited development opportunities—as Leesburg is nearing buildout—are well planned and aligned with the council’s vision. Focusing on redevelopment and mixed-use amenities is also important, he said.
Bagdasarian said he does not plan to run a traditional campaign, and is looking forward to engaging with citizens and business owners in online, collaborative conversations. He also is encouraging residents to patronize local restaurants and businesses in lieu of making a campaign contribution.
For more information on Bagdasarian and his campaign, go toara2020.org.
Bagdasarian joins a growing list of council candidates, including incumbent Tom Dunn and challenger Zach Cummings. Councilman Josh Thiel announced last week that he will be resigning several months prior to the end of his term because he is moving outside of town limits, and Councilman Ron Campbell has not announced his plans yet. Mayor Kelly Burk is the only one so far to announce for the mayor’s race. The filing deadline is June 9.