The June 4 town elections in Lovettsville, Middleburg and Purcellville will see two heavily contested Town Council races in which only about half of the candidates will win seats, and a mayoral election between an incumbent mayor and a former council member with double the experience on the dais.
Issues in those towns range anywhere from struggling utility funds to questions of partisanship and infrastructure improvements of all kinds. Common among them all, though, is the coronavirus crisis, which is forcing council members to develop innovative ways to financially aid businesses and residents, as Virginia prepares to enter phase one of re-openings.
It’s that crisis that has made the elections next Thursday the third iteration of the voting date. Originally scheduled for May 5—along with the towns of Hamilton and Round Hill—elections in Lovettsville, Middleburg and Purcellville were pushed to May 19 when Gov. Ralph Northam used his executive authority to delay balloting by 14 days to keep voters from convening at the polls amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At the request of Lovettsville, Middleburg and Purcellville, the Virginia Supreme Court allowed those three towns to delay their elections a full 30 days from the originally scheduled date, as allowed by Virginia law.
Mayor—term ending June 30, 2022 (vote for 1)
In Lovettsville, Mayor Nate Fontaine is unopposed in his bid for a second two-year term.
Occupation: AnActing Deputy Chief Information Security Officer within DHS and Mayor of the Town of Lovettsville
Experience:I have the unique experience of having been on the Planning Commission prior to moving to Town Council and then serving as your Mayor. There are many times an understanding of Comprehensive Plans and zoning strategies help when making a decision as a Councilperson and Mayor. I believe I have shown that engagement and relationships with other municipalities and the county are essential to the Town of Lovettsville. In addition, the Mayor is an individual that must be able to work all members of the Town Council, the Planning Commission, as well as our many Committees to ensure that the Town continues to thrive and celebrate the residents and outstanding community in Lovettsville.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): The Town of Lovettsville is doing great.Short of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Lovettsville has seen great progress attracting business owners to open in town.Just in the past two years, we have seen exciting grand openings for Rodeo’s Mexican Grill, Willows Vintage Charm, Brainiacs, Ivy & Oak Boutique, Dinner Belles Kitchen Cupboard, Anytime Fitness, Burapa Asian Bistro, and of course Lotus Town Yoga. Drawing these businesses to Lovettsville is only possible by showcasing the outstanding community support and vitality this small town has. We even have businesses like Ridgeway’s Automotive who just celebrated their 70th anniversary!
Having a diversified revenue for the Town is imperative to keeping the property tax low for residents of Lovettsville. Items like the meals tax contribute well over $140,000 annually with revenue coming in not just from those in and around Lovettsville going out to eat, but from those passing through town for sporting events, town events, those coming to visit Lovettsville as a foodie destination, and those passing through to catch the MARC train, etc. These commercial taxes allow us to fund operations of the town government as well as capital improvement projects like streetscapes (sidewalks), improvements on S. Church St and Pennsylvania, and more.
Top Priority: I really have two top priorities, the first is continuing to mature our fiscal policies and practices of the Town, and the second is open communication. Over the past two years, the Town Council has worked diligently to ensure that our updated Fiscal Policy has funding requirements for our reserves. In the past, the Town reserves were funded only if there was a surplus in town revenue. The updated policy works to ensure that we have funding available for emergency situations, like the one we are living through now. These reserves have also made it possible to replace the 11+ year old trailer that we have been warned may collapse, on staff or citizens, with large winds or snow fall. Without proper planning and funding of these reserves, the town would need to increase borrowing, thus increasing interest payments on loans, instead of making down payments for projects.
Another critical portion of funding projects, beyond reserves, is ensuring that we are applying for all grants. I have been working with staff and the Town Council to ensure that prior to new projects receiving town funding or loans, that we first look for grant funding from other sources. The grant process takes time and that is why strategic documents like the Capital Improvement Plan are so important.
I am extremelyproud of how our staff, committees, the Commission, and the Council have opened communications and work to change operating procedures to increase the number of recorded meetings, ensure that our minutes are produced and made available promptly. While we are navigating through this pandemic, we have also opened our meetings to a new video teleconferencing platform. We will continue to identify new ways to engage with the community and keep the residents informed of project status’.
Lovettsville has an exciting future, and I look forward to working for you with the Town Council, Planning Commission, and our Committees to make you proud to call Lovettsville home.
Town Council—term ending June 30, 2024 (vote for 3)
The terms of Vice Mayor Jim McIntyre and Councilmen Mike Dunlap and Buchanan Smith will expire in June. Running for those three seats are:
Mike Dunlap (incumbent)
Neighborhood:Lovettsville Town Center
Occupation:Government and Public Affairs
Experience: I grew up on my family’s farm in Lovettsville and have seen a lot of changes to my hometown over the last several decades as it has grown from a few shops and homes to a bustling community in danger of outgrowing its status as a small town. Tiffany and I love raising our family here, with all of us helping to run Summer on the Green, Mayfest, Capitalsville and many other events we believe are important to helping build our community and bring it together.
My professional career has spanned 17 years focusing on rural economic policy and infrastructure programs for small towns across America, just like Lovettsville, who face acute water and wastewater needs. As a staff director and senior policy advisor to Congress, I developed and provided oversight on the policies helping rural America today. I work daily on behalf of businesses which support rural communities across the country. Continuing public service as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, I help provide strategic counsel to Navy leadership and apply the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment to every area of life. On the Town Council, I have an unparalleled record of success on reducing taxes, supporting our local businesses and finding resources for our critical infrastructure.
Growing up in Lovettsville and bringing a wealth of policy, communication and leadership experience to the Town Council has given me a solid foundation to provide unprecedented transparency, accountability and efficiency to our local government. In just two years I have effectively worked with our staff, elected leaders and state agencies, to cut tax rates three times, get our crumbling streets paved, implement campaign finance reform, seek grant funds for events, projects and studies, promote our businesses and provide training sessions, fight wasteful spending, find no-cost pedestrian safety solutions and prevent increases in water rates.
By putting our community first, listening to all sides and critically reviewing all ideas, my experience can help lead Lovettsville on a sustainable path.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): Water and sewer costs remain our biggest challenge. I have worked hard with our staff to prevent rate increases, however we need a new elevated water tank for capacity and fire suppression, our pipes are aging and wastewater solids management costs are looming. Lovettsville will require investments through county, state and federal resources to meet the acute needs of our water and sewer system as ever-stringent state and federal environmental regulations raise the cost of operating the system.
The pedestrian network in Lovettsville remains incomplete, preventing safe, walkable access for our families to our schools, businesses, library, community center and parks. VDOT produced a study specifically identifying the need for pedestrian access to our elementary school. Flooding also remains a key issue, causing damage to roadways and homes throughout the older parts of town. Long-stalled road, sidewalk and storm management projects need to be funded in the near term to attract businesses, create a safe community and support our property values.
Aggressive development proposals threaten our small town, bringing unsolved transportation challenges, unfunded infrastructure costs and erosion of our small-town community culture. Courting the appropriate type and kind of commercial development remains one of our biggest challenges and opportunities. Lovettsville has tremendous potential to both thrive and retain the small-town community we all love without giving in to developers looking for a quick profit.
To achieve these goals, our non-partisan Town Council must return to comity and reject cults of personality. Working together, no matter how far apart our ideas begin, we can craft the policies which are right for Lovettsville, our families and our community.
Top Priority: My priorities are dictated by the most acute needs of our families in Lovettsville and we can make critical infrastructure improvements without raising taxes. Affordable utilities, safe access to schools and parks and low taxes matter and will be my focus.
Children on either side of town cannot safely walk to school. It is well past time to make the investments in our sidewalks, streets and storm water management. It is unconscionable that our residents have waited decades for these basic services after paying ever-higher taxes year after year. I will work to focus every available penny on these basic, critical investments while ensuring the town government is living within its means.
Our aging water system needs millions of dollars in upgrades for appropriate reserves, flow and fire suppression capacity. Finding funding sources beyond our families’ checkbooks must be at the forefront of funding requests to our county, state and federal leaders.
Lovettsville needs to budget and plan better for the future. Our reserves are all but depleted from wasteful expenditures on a new town hall, previous policies to set funds aside for investments in streetscapes and pedestrian safety were jettisoned and deficit budgets are being balanced on the backs of financial gimmicks and dipping into reserves. I have opposed these unsustainable policies and will fight to put our town on solid financial footing without raising taxes.
We can accomplish these infrastructure improvements by working together in a collaborative manner and maintaining focus on providing real services with each dollar entrusted to us by our residents.
Neighborhood: Lakeview Village
Occupation: Transportation Operations, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)
Experience: Currently, I serve on the board for the Lakeview Village HOA where we are working with the Town on improvements to our infrastructure. This has given me the opportunity to work with the Town of Lovettsville, including great interactions with the former Zoning Administrator and the current town Project Manager. I have participated in multiple Oktoberfest and Mayfest celebrations through my church, Mt. Olivet, including organizing and facilitating (in part or whole) the children’s games for the last 6 years. I have been to many meetings at the Town Hall; both formally through the Town Council and informally through meeting with staff and our Town representatives. I have lived in Loudoun County for 52 years, including the last 12 in Lovettsville. I remember when Rt. 7 was a 2 lane road! I also have extensive experience with over 25 years in the construction industry working on everything from transportation and roads, industrial, as well as equipment operation and trucking. I have also been a small business owner and operator of a water trucking business.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): Most immediate challenge facing Lovettsville is the unknown extent of the impacts of the current COVID-19 on the town’s citizens and businesses, some which have closed. This most certainly will have short to intermediate impacts of all town citizens. I support the current efforts of the Town Council to help those in need through waiving of late fees and extended deadlines for payment of bills. However, I am glad to know that the Town is well positioned in its General Fund reserves set by financial experts to exceed minimum thresholds by more than $500K and significant operational contingency funds totaling almost$500and over 150% of targeted recommendations to help weather this storm. It’s the continued focus on fiscal responsibility that I look to bring as a member of the Town Council. From a long-term perspective, the biggest challenge is maintaining the small town vision of Lovettsville thathas been recently threatened. Another candidate in this year’s race actively sought to engage with developers that wanted to build up to 130 new, unplanned homes. Others associate with folksthat would have no problem seeing higher-density, large townhouses and condos which do not reflect the current size, scale and characteristics of the town. That is not in the town’s Comprehensive Plan and that is not Lovettsville.
Top Priority: As a member of Town Council, my top priority is to serve the citizens of Lovettsville and to protect our small town quality of life. I will achieve this through collaboration with fellow Council members and town staff, fiscal responsibility that includes minimizing new spending, and continuing to make the right decisions to help implement the vision as defined in the town’s Comprehensive Plan which promotes small town living while limiting residential growth. Additionally, I plan to remain a mainstay at the Town committees and events and will continue to support them as your Town Council representative. Finally, I am the only candidate that has the experience with larger scale municipal projects and engagement with the Town staff to begin to address some of the long standing needs in our community. As such, I am best positioned to use this experience as your Councilman and I ask for your vote.
Neighborhood:Old Town Lovettsville
Occupation: Proposal and Grant Writer
Experience:Volunteered for town events in the years I have lived here, coached cheer and softball, worked with local children sports organizations, etc. As a proposal writer I have worked with local, state and Federal government.I have not taken any money or endorsements for my campaign. I am not alignedwith other members of the town council or candidates.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s):Finances are always a challenge for small town government. Water, sewer, sidewalk and downtown improvements are all slated for the coming fiscal years, but our resources are low.
Top Priority:Prioritizing improvement initiatives, and finding grants we are eligible for to help with these projects, need to be a top priority. My background as a proposal and grant writer will be valuable in this. I also am a strong believer that national politics have no place in town government. Lovettsville is strongest when we work together for common goals.
Neighborhood:New Town Meadows
Occupation: Math Teacher
Experience:12-year town resident, math background, New Town Meadows ArchitecturalReviewCommittee member
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s):Communication, collaboration, and water rates
Top Priority:No uncontrolled growth and limit spending
Buchanan Smith (incumbent)
Neighborhood: Fox Meadows
Occupation: Corporate Pilot
Experience: I am the only candidate running that has served on both the Lovettsville Planning Commission and Town Council and have the most time serving in an official capacity. I have a lifelong record of service to my country and community, beginning as a United States Marine, volunteering for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, working with Methodist Habitat delivering supplies and helping children in disaster areas, and most recently as a proud supporter of the Ryan Bartel Foundation (https://www.ryanbartelfoundation.org/) tohelp bring our suicide epidemic out of the shadows. After buying a home here in Lovettsville, I was immediately drawn to participate in the process first as a Planning Commissioner member, and have been honored to serve the citizens of Lovettsville as a member of our Town Council for the past fifteen months.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): There is misconception in Lovettsville that we are a town divided along partisan lines.In reality, there is a lack of collaboration and teamwork among certain members of the Town Council andthere’s no reason for it.To overcome this challenge, the Town Council should seek to emulate the spirit that has been demonstrated in town during the last few weeks. Lovettsville is a tight-knit community that supports one another in good times and in bad.It is from this lens that I serve and not for my own political ambitions…I don’t have any!
I am more than willing to work with anyone on the Council for the betterment of this community. I am the only candidate running with a history of collaboration with every member of the Town Council. I chose to run with candidates who will also listen while others speak, instead of simply thinking about what they are going to say next. Collaboration and teamwork are fundamental to address the major fiscal, infrastructure and growth related challenges facing the town.
Ignore the national divide, forget about which cable news channel you watch and just talk to your neighbors! I’ll also continue to talk and listen, and I appreciate your support in overcoming all of the challenges that face our community.
Top Priority: Completing the creation of a town Finance Committee which many other localities utilize to increase citizen engagement and take advantage of citizens’ expertise in this area. As our budget and events grow, I will find citizens that are knowledgeable about finance to offer suggestions and provide transparency in our budgeting process! I will prioritize managing planned growth according to our comprehensive plan and executing in a fiscally responsible manner according to our Fiscal Policy.
I’d also like to see our events, which largely define this town, reach their potential and maximize the camaraderie at the foundation of this town.
Finally, I will continue to support collaboration amongst all members of our Town Council, to achieve the best results for our town.
Occupation: Software Development
Experience:I’m a town resident who is blessed to have a career that affords me the luxury of some spare time. Frankly, I think those are the only qualifications anyone should need to fulfill to run for Town office – that, and a desire to serve the community.
That said, with 30+ combined years in retail management, customer service & information technology, I’ve developed a skill set tuned to finding effective and efficient solutions to varied issues, finding a balance between needs & wants, and focusing on the individual without losing site of the larger population. I believe that skill set could be a benefit to the TC.
Your town’s biggest challenge(s):There’s an ongoing need to address common and recurring concerns, such as utility costs, sidewalks and budgeting; however, I believe one of the biggest challenges that were facing today is the partisan attitude that has permeated the town and TC.
Top Priority: Community outreach and engagement – it’s my opinion that TC members should put the needs and opinions of the Town before their own, whenever possible, and that’s going to require talking to and listening to Town residents on a much larger scale.
Projects in Lovettsville
Some of the most hotly debated topics in Lovettsville surround the town’s road and pedestrian network. The EPR traffic engineering firm is developing a $65,000 Transportation Master Plan for the town, which should be completed by the end of this year. That plan will see the firm recommend vehicular-, pedestrian- and bicycle-related improvements to the Planning Commission.
Utility rates are also coming under scrutiny, since the town in the last three fiscal years has held water and sewer rates level but is in need of more revenue to fund multiple utility projects, like a new water tower.
Partisanship has also emerged as an issue in Lovettsville, with some feeling the Town Council is stuck on a party-line divide. Those concerns have been embraced and rejected by council candidates this year. Some claim the divide exists and needs to be eliminated, while others feel the divide is simply a result of a nonpartisan difference of opinion on the dais.
Mayor—term ending June 30, 2022 (vote for 1)
In Middleburg, Mayor Bridge Littleton is unopposed in his bid for a second two-year term.
Occupation:small technology business owner
Experience:Having been born here and lived most of my life in Middleburg, I care deeply about our community and ensuring we protect it. This includes working hard with other towns and civic groups and the County to fight back the unwanted development that is encroaching our boarders. This requires hard work and a deep understanding of the issues as developing broad coalitions of support to achieve these goals. Prior Service: Planning Commissioner Town of Middleburg, Middleburg Town Council, Executive Committee Member Virginia Municipal League. Current Mayor, Member of Coalition of Loudoun Towns, Board Member Middleburg Community Charter School, Board Member Middleburg Museum Foundation
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s):How to ensure we recover quickly from the business and citizen impacts of the Corona virus. This must be done in a way which returns us to open community we are, but in a safe manner to protect the health and welfare of those who live, work and visit in Middleburg.
Top Priority:Continue to act fiscally prudently. It is this which has enable use to sustain our services and invest in our businesses and residents during this crisis. This planning was hard and took time, but it was and will remain a top priority so we can save when times are good and support our citizens when times get tough. Second, continue to put the protections in place to protect Middleburg and rural Loudoun. Lastly, is to continue to invest in our long-term infrastructure needs.
Town Council—term ending June 30, 2024 (vote for 3)
Chris Bernard (incumbent)
Neighborhood: Mosby Square
Occupation: Commercial Real Estate (Director of Operations)
Experience: I have lots of experience with growing small businesses, and have used that to help with marketing and economic development in Middleburg as a current member of our Town Council. That, combined with my growing knowledge of zoning and land use give me a unique perspective to help serve our amazing community.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): Currently, our biggest challenge is how we’re going to sustain our local economy through this pandemic and how we recover on the other side. We have started some really huge and innovative relief efforts and continue to explore ideas.
Top Priority: My first priority is implementation of an Economic Development study we are having done. This would include recovery efforts from COVID-19. One of the other large projects I am focused on is our plan for a new Town Administration building, and how we get from land acquisition to opening the doors to the public.
J. Kevin Daly (incumbent)
Neighborhood: Near North Jay/East Marshall Street intersection
Occupation: Retired military/government officer
Experience: In my past career as an Army Officer, Foreign Area officer, and Project/Systems Engineer I learned to work with diverse cultures, organizations, and individuals to improvise, innovate, motivate, initiate, and implement solutions to complex challenges for the betterment of all. … We are facing greater challenges now more than ever with COVID-19 disrupting life in on our community and the country, but in the Middleburg I’ve come to know and cherish over the past 17 years, there isn’t any challenge that can’t be overcome if we work together.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): Surviving and recovering from COVID-19. A challenge we our working on in the Town Council now. One major example in meeting this challenge is the Town Council’s financial relief package initiative … I and other Town Council Members have played and continue to play an important role in efforts to sustain the businesses that support Middleburg and our residents. We have a tradition of a community that works together for the greater good of all, because we have citizens who care for and look after one another.
Another challenge we face is to maintain the vitality and infrastructure of our town to continue nurturing this supporting environment. How do we repair, maintain, and improve our businesses and infrastructure, such as our water purification treatment plant, without breaking the bank?
How do we create an environment that encourages a sustainable business base in our village, supporting not just the out-of-town weekend visitors, but those who live in and around Middleburg as well?
How do we ensure that we support our businesses who want to rehire and retain their workforces, especially in this time of extreme uncertainty?
We can find solutions to all these challenges through the combined efforts of town government, businesses, professional organizations, and the local arts and community associations. If I have the honor to be reelected as Town Council Member, I will bring my experience in all these areas to once again make Middleburg a thriving community.
Top Priority: To ensure the safety of our community, to have our businesses recover from COVID-19, and to continue to repair, build, and maintain our town’s infrastructure to stimulate the local economy and offer financial help amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered businesses and left many people out of work.
Philip Miller (incumbent)
Neighborhood: Federal Village
Occupation: Local Small Business Owner
Experience: This will be my second four-year term on Council.This will be my second four-year term on Council. Middleburg has seen considerable changes and improvements in business climate during my first term. The big thing I believe we as a Council have achieved together is governing beyond the day to day operations. We’ve shifted the Council’s role from management to leadership. We’re working less on the tedious details and more on the big picture and long-term strategic path for improving and preserving our treasured home. In that climate, we will be in an excellent place to combat the challenges ahead, notably those caused by the pandemic.Four years Council lead to Economic Development Advisory Committee. Four years Middleburg HealthcareCenter Advisory Board. Two years Board Member Middleburg Business and Professional Association.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): The economic impact and fiscal challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic areundoubtedly the most pressing matters for Middleburg in the months and years ahead. We’ve worked hard to ensure we are in a strong financial position to weather this storm. As a result, we are able to helpstabilize our businesses, support our citizens and help our surrounding community.
Top Priority: My top priority will be to ensure we have sound strategic plans for economic recovery and that we invest in implementing those plans. It will be critical to ensureMiddleburg comes out of this crisiswith a strong vision for how we attract visitors safely for our hospitality, retail businesses. Those industries are a backbone of our economic vitality, which fuels our ability to best serve our citizens and community. We must be dynamic and creative to stimulate this recovery, using tools like our new marketing brand to build awareness of Middleburg’s appealing spaces now and to drive visitor traffic to Middleburg once it is safe to do so.
Town Council Special Election—term ending June 30, 2022 (vote for 1)
Morris “Bud” Jacobs (incumbent)
Neighborhood: Steeplechase Run
Occupation: Retired US diplomat, businessman and non-profit administrator
Experience: Current Town Council member; Wellhead Protection Advisory Committee chairman; Town Council representative for Planning Commission.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): Supporting our citizens, businesses, schools, and non-profits through the current pandemic crisis.
Top Priority: Working on necessary in-Town development, including businesses and workforce housing, while fighting for rational policies to protect and preserve rural landscapes around Middleburg.
Projects in Middleburg
With a Town Council that typically gets along well and votes unanimously on most actions, Middleburg can be expected to stay the course during the next term. In fact, all council candidates agreed that the number-one challenge facing the town right now is one that’s not unique to Middleburg—finding a way to stabilize the town budget and help businesses and residents recover financially from the coronavirus crisis.
Out of all six western Loudoun towns, helping businesses recover from the crisis is perhaps most crucial in Middleburg, where 40 percent of the revenue anticipated in the current town budget comes from of meals, occupancy, sales and business license taxes.
Still, the town has close to $7 million stashed away in its General Fund reserves, which has helped the town to deliver about $400,000 in financial relief packages to town businesses and residents in recent months.
Mayor—term ending June 2022 (vote for one)
In Purcellville, three-term Mayor Kwasi Fraser’s term expires in June. Running for his seat are:
Neighborhood: Town resident
Experience: Town Council, 1992-2004; Purcellville Finance Committee Chairwoman; Joint Planning Agreement with Loudoun County (PUGAMP) Chairwoman; Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Squad board member; Purcellville Business Association board member; Purcellville Babe Ruth World Series board member.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s):Finances, especially in the utility department. Under the Mayor’s leadership, Purcellville has wasted millions in investigations, lawsuits, and failed monetizations.Over the past 3 years, Purcellville’s consultants have repeatedly warned the Town Council they must obtain additional revenue or face insolvency in the utility funds. The Town Manager recently noted that even if the Aberdeen property monetization programhad worked, and generated a $1 million in nutrient credit, that is a fraction of what is needed.
As Chairman of Finance, during my Council term, we made difficult decisions to ensure Purcellville’s future was strong financially. Due to these efforts our Town’s reserves grew from $500,000 to $10 million by 2004. We need leadership that is willing to make not only difficult decisions but ones that are right for our Town’s future.
While I see the “Slow Growth” slogan on the Mayor’s signs you will not see any current Town report that signals growth is a problem facing our town. Purcellville is about 95% built out.
There are few if any annexation opportunities as most of the area, immediately surrounding Purcellville, has built by right. If growth was an issue it would be very easy to fix.
Top Priority:Work in tandem with our professional staff and consultants to prioritize mandated projects/expenses. Reports have warned the town must also locate new water resources now to ensure the safety of our citizens and businesses. The Mayor has ignored partnership opportunities that would have provided Purcellville an abundant of water for our future.
We must ensure that we have a strong relationship with our business community.
We must also work on building and maintaining partnerships with our local governments to ensure shared facilities, such as Fireman’s Field, is a benefit to all.
Working together we can restore the trust that is critical to Purcellville’s future.
Kwasi Fraser (incumbent)
Experience:In the face of multiple challenges over the past six years, my accomplishments as Mayor qualify me for re-election. I committed to policies of slow growth, low taxes, innovative solutions, and infrastructure improvements. I voted against two major annexation applications to prevent high density residential growth that would have compromised Purcellville’s character and placed significant strain upon our infrastructure and water resources.I led the Town to reduce debt payments, inherited from prior administrations, by $8.1 Million and reduced operational expenses in our utility enterprise fund by over $300,000. Further, we lowered our overall debt by over $7.6 million, maintained our stellar credit rating, welcomed over 80 businesses to Purcellville during the past two years, and transformed an old maintenance facility into a technology incubator and manufacturing workshop. Under my leadership, we secured millions in funding from the state and county to complete roadway and trail projects. These accomplishments and responses to challenges were made possible because those who voted for me expected nothing less, and with commitment, perseverance, and expertise I delivered.
In addition, my academic and professional experience has positioned me to conceive, to develop, and to integrate operational concepts into executable plans and programs. As an innovative thinker adept at conceptualizing and articulating unconventional approaches to problem solving in the public and commercial sectors, I am uniquely qualified to lead Purcellville out of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s):Purcellville’sbiggest challenge is to achieve full and complete recovery from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.I am committed to working with the federal, state, and county governments to secure available resources for our local businesses and citizens.My focus will be on a recovery and not on a recession.
Moreover, we must continue to resist the pressure of high-density residential development as we work to pay the $1.3 million increase in debt payment starting in 2023. The 2017 debt restructuring bought us time by reducing payments between 2018 and 2030 by over $8 million dollars. However, if a restructuring or refinancing option is not available in 2023, we will be paying $1.3 million more annually. I was pleased with the $1.2 million in debt payment savings from the current refinance opportunity that was recently presented to us.As Mayor, I will work with the Town Council and our citizens to continue to identify ways to monetize the over $125 million worth of town-owned assets. With transformational and innovative leadership from Cristopher Bertaut, Stanley Milan, and Mary Jane Williams, the new council will be positioned to advance economic growth by pursuing projects such as a Western Loudoun County pool and recreational center for our excess wastewater treatment capacity, implementation of nutrient and carbon sequestration credit trading to generate revenue from our open space assets, and further alignment with economic development organizations and the business community to establish ways to generate revenue from the over $125 million in assets owned by the Town.
Top Priority:Other than supporting our local economy to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, my other top priority will be the continued reduction of our debt and establishing zoning that matches our slow-growth comprehensive plan.
Reducing our debt allows us more funding toward projects that directly benefit our citizens. Our opponents want to rely on annexation that will increase our town liabilities, raise taxes, and add to our traffic congestion. My colleagues and I are committed to projects which either pay for themselves or improve our services. Some of these revenue positive projects include solar purchasing agreements to reduce the Town’s energy costs, monetizing our right of ways by laying fiber optic cables to extend broadband, erect a second cellular tower to increase wireless coverage for public safety and generate income for our utility fund, sale of our reclaimed water, and public-private partnerships that generate value and revenue from underperforming town assets.
Following the completion of our comprehensive plan, our zoning must be updated to support our slow-growth strategy. We will be focusing on alternative ways to assure our resiliency and economic prosperity to eliminate fluctuations in our budgeting. Continuing to represent the people, this will prevent rash decision making about expanding our borders or large-scale residential development that is better suited to a large metropolis.
Town Council—term ending June 30, 2024 (vote for 3)
The terms of Councilmen Chris Bledsoe, Ryan Cool and Nedim Ogelman will expire in June. Running for those three seats are:
Occupation:IT/Telecommunications Project Manager
Experience: I have more than 20 years of experience working in and managing teams dedicated to producing results for a wide variety of stakeholders. I have also helped develop non-tax revenue streams for the Town of Purcellville as a member of their Economic Development Advisory Committee. In addition, I have also served in a variety of volunteer positions with local youth. Next, I have a track record of setting goals based on input from diverse communities and meeting those goals. Finally, I have forecasted large budgets throughout my career, and work well with the task of balancing conflicting demands for limited resources. I have stated policies of low taxes, slow growth, infrastructure improvements, and innovative solutions, and I will not change these policies once elected. I will keep my promises to the citizens of Purcellville.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): Purcellville’s biggest challenge is to continue to do the hard work to reduce debt while avoiding the temptation of high-density residential development. My opponents in this race have falsely claimed that they support managed growth because there is no land left adjacent to town that can be annexed. They have further claimed that most land adjacent to town is already built out, or in conservation easements. Examination of County land records reveal both claims to be false. As a Town Council member I will resist developer efforts to privatize benefits while socializing costs of increased town staff, public safety, infrastructure, and traffic impacts among the citizens.
Top Priority: If elected, I pledge to continue to pay down Purcellville’s excessive debt without burdening residents with higher utility rates and taxes. Our current town government has made progress in paying down the debt and that progress needs to continue. A series of high-density annexations in the last twenty years, coupled with a decision to build a new wastewater treatment plant with nearly twice the capacity currently needed was the source of much of Purcellville’s debt. I will leverage under-utilized town assets to build new revenue streams that will bend the curve on projected utility rate increases.
Mary Lynn Hickey
Occupation: Vice President, The News Literacy Project
Experience: I have spent the last twenty years working in the nonprofit sector and am currently employed as the Vice President of Administration with the News Literacy Project where I have worked since 2011. Managing our nonprofit’s organizational operations from human resources to contract bidding and review to finance including fiscal year budget preparation/oversight has prepared me well for the scope of activity our Town Council members regularly address. Having spent the last two years attending Town Council meetings to further my understanding of the current issues facing Purcellville, I am ready to show up on day one with an established base of knowledge.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): Committing to and then executing the policy and practice of responsible financial stewardship to protect the Town of Purcellville’s long term and sustainable financial health including our bond rating.
The financial waste and mismanagement over the last few years in the Town of Purcellville including the frequent use of outside consultants and contractors and the very expensive and now settled lawsuits filed against the Town by several employees have put this in jeopardy. The lawsuits were filed in response to the actions of former staff, consultants and others and these unbudgeted expenditures seriously compromised the Town financially. We need to get back to the basics of running the Town on solid organizational and financial footing and in funding critical capital improvement projects that are too easily slashed as they just were in the new FY2021 budget. Deferred maintenance can quickly escalate into far more expensive repairs when left unaddressed.
Top Priority: The top priority must be addressing the need for more revenue to stabilize the Town’s water and sewer utilities (including existing debt service) and to do so in a way that is truly sustainable over the long term. Just as important as accomplishing this goal is doing so without ongoing operating subsidies from the general fund. Best practice dictates that our water and sewer utilities be independently sustainable.
Davenport and then Stantec, the contractors with expertise in utility management, were hired by the Town hired to research the current status of the water and sewer utilities and to then make recommendations to achieve long term financial sustainability. What remains unaddressed long after the availability (tap) fee revenue from new development such as the Mayfair community stopped coming in to close the operating budget gap is to follow through on the guidance from these experts. Stantec has offered detailed options to collect enough revenue to fully cover costs and to create a fair rate structure for residential and business customers. However, the Town Council has yet to fully implement this guidance.
Neighborhood:Old Dominion Valley
Occupation:Retired Navy Trident Submariner
Experience:My background is forged from my Naval Military service.I served as First Class Missile Technician aboard the USS Alaska (SSBN 732) from 1990 to 1993,as a Leading Petty Officer of the United States Navy.I also performed duties as First Lieutenant supervising the training, and advancement of the Deck Division.
I was a Naval instructor and in1985I received the distinction of Master Training Specialist at the TRIDENT Training Facility in Bangor, Washington. I honed my discipline of restraint under pressure while serving onboard Trident Submarines and later as a law enforcement officer. I cultivated collaborative problem-solving techniques, while advancing the goal of serving and protecting the community as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff in both Washington, and Virginia.
I have worked for the top five defense contractors as a Project Manager, Information Security System Officer, and Industrial Special Security Administrator – including six- and nine-month deployments to Afghanistan.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s):A main issue and one of the main concerns of the citizens that needs to be resolved, is the Town debt that is related to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Some on Council are focused on innovative solutions to reduce and eliminate the debt over time. When elected to Council, I will work with Mayor Kwasi Fraser and a majority on Council to make this a top priority.
Uncontrolled growth puts and enormous strain on our residents in the form of high water rates, high taxes, more traffic, more strain on our services, and the loss of our small town feel. I will be a voice on council for the citizens, and I will not change when elected. That is why it is so important to elect the right citizens for the leadership for the Town of Purcellville. Those in opposition are running on growth policies that have gotten us into debt in the first place. I ask for your vote in this all important election.
Top Priority:One of my top priorities is to minimize the current debt for the wastewater treatment plant. I would use current town assets to generate revenue. One solution is to selleffluent water, non-potable water, to construction sites.
I would continue to bring communication companies to use the cell towers.I would work with the county on the new, anticipated western Loudoun recreation facility by selling them town utilities. We can obtain grants from local, state and federal programs.
We need to hold the line on growth by means of annexation. For every dollar spent for a residential home,the cost to the taxpayer is approximately $1.62. The zoning ordinance is crucial for the town, and it is important to have a strong council that will not allow inappropriate zoning that would eliminate our small-town feel. We don’t want six story buildings in the historic downtown district or anywhere in Purcellville.
Occupation: Executive Director Barbara Comstock Program for Women in Leadership, Schar School of Government & Policy, George Mason University
Experience: Former Director of Community Outreach & Engagement for Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, sat on ad-hoc committees for Loudoun Economic Development Commission, Vice President of Purcellville Business Association, Board member for Virginia Regional Transport (Purcellville), member of Mountain View Elementary PTA, and Board of Supervisors appointee to Loudoun Fiscal Impact Commission.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): Address the financials. Water & sewer debt is a big issue. We can’t just pass the problems of debt to the next generation for them to deal with; it’s irresponsible. We need to address the true cost & pay our bills!
Infrastructure.We have aging pipes & water mains, which are not adequate for the town’s current needs. The longer we delay preventive repairs & replacements, the more expensive it will be.
Economic Development. We need to look at our commercial base, support & build upon it. I am not saying bring in box stores (ordinance against that) but look at our vacancies & work hard to ensure business owners & potential owners know that Purcellville is open for business. Make a solid economic development strategy to attract new businesses & make it easier for potential new businesses to come to town. We have to actively support the businesses we do have, whether through marketing or special events. Make sure our town is a one-stop shop as much as possible.
Top Priority: The most important thing is to get the town’s financials in order. Between all the turmoil that has happened in the last few years that has cost the town millions of dollars; the lawsuits, the rising water and sewer debt, and impending infrastructure projects, the town needs to focus on financial stability, not wasting staff time and money on monetization schemes that won’t yield much return or any.
Mary Jane Williams
Neighborhood: Locust Grove
Occupation: Teacher for LCPS
Experience: I have lived here since 2002 and have seen our growth along with the multiple changes in our small town. Due to the growth, we have seen an increase in traffic, our water/sewage rates, and increased costs in running the Town. I am running because I want to be the voice of the citizens on the Town Council and stand up for protecting our sense of community within the Town we have all come to cherish.
Although this is my first “hands on” campaign, it is not my first interest in politics due to the fact that I have been teaching government to high school seniors for more than 30 years. During my tenure my students and I have discussed topics from all levels of government and even today, through google meets, we are discussing federalism in action due to the COVID-19 situation. Every day is a learning tool when teaching government. I will be ready on my first day as a member of the Town Council to fulfill my commitment to the residents, which includes slow growth, innovative solutions, low taxes and focusing on infrastructure concerns.
Town’s Biggest Challenge(s): The biggest challenge facing the Town of Purcellville revolves around the debt which is a drain on our Town budget. Although the debt was incurred during a previous administration, it remains a top budget priority in that we need to find the means for reducing our debt, without raising taxes or decreasing services to the residents of the Town. Thus, we need to “think outside the box” and use innovative solutions to reduce the debt and increase revenue at the same time. Mayor Kwasi Fraser has been working on refinancing loans to decrease the monthly payments along with researching utility savings for the water treatment facility. By increasing revenue from under utilized Town assets and decreasing costs at existing facilities, we would see a balance, within our budget. For example, with solar panels on the Water Treatment Facility, the annual cost of power would decrease by approximately $125,000, the Town has completed their application for nutrient credits on the Aberdeen property, locking in the higher rate, thus acting on this could net the Town a one time fee of nearly $1 million. Within a few years, the carbon credits will become a reality, thus netting additional revenue for the Town. Due to the increased need for connectivity within the Town limits, we are studying the development of a second cell tower to generate additional revenue.
Top Priority: My top priority on Town Council will be to work with my colleagues to pursue innovative solutions to the many financial burdens facing the Town. I ran for Town Council, along with Mayor Kwasi Fraser, Chris Bertaut and Stan Milan, on a platform centering on slow growth, low
taxes and innovation solutions and I intend to keep my campaign promises to the citizens of Purcellville.
Due to COVID-19, the Town’s revenue from the meals tax is down substantially, thus we will need to determine how to replace that revenue without harming the credit rating of the Town or the “pockets” of the residents. During this campaign, I have stressed slow growth, meaning that we need to grow from within the community through economic incentives and entrepreneurship. Should we grow the geographical footprint of the Town, we would impact the infrastructure (i.e., the water usage, the roads and services) in a negative manner, and it is not what the residents want. In order to achieve the goals that I have stood for in this campaign, I am relying on the residents of the Town to offer suggestions and guidance throughout the process; the government in the Town of Purcellville is a community government relying on the people for their voice.
Projects in Purcellville
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the Town of Purcellville is the depleting water and sewer funds, which shrunk by 39 and 16 percent, respectively, this fiscal year. The town needs to find a way to bolster those funds and will most likely need to raise water rates in Fiscal Year 2022 by anywhere from 7.5 to 27 percent and sewer rates by anywhere from 9.25 to 36 percent—an action the town’s utility consultant recommended the town implement in Fiscal Year 2021.
Stabilizing the utility funds will allow the town to pay for many needed projects. In the next fiscal year, the town is poised to forgo many water projects and all sewer projects.
Also continuing to linger is the fallout of the 2017 investigation into now-discredited claims of misconduct against the police chief that involved firings and suspensions of top staffers and millions of dollars in settlements.
The town also continues to work toward the installation of a second cellular tower to provide residents—specifically those on the south side of town—with increased connectivity. Seven firms have expressed interest in handling that project. The town is set to negotiate a final offer with the selected firm this week or next and award a contract around July 6.
The Loudoun County Office of Elections and Voter Registration has encouraged voters to vote absentee in the June 4 elections. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is this Thursday, May 28. As of Tuesday, 210 of 331 requested absentee ballots in Lovettsville had been returned, while 51 of 85 requested in Middleburg had been returned and 1,158 of 1,783 in Purcellville had been returned.
In the 2018 town elections, a total of 2,615 voters cast ballots across those three towns, only 96 of which were absentee ballots.