Leesburg Town Council Weighs Options for Filling Vacancy

It could be another month until the Town Council dais is again full.

Council members Monday night considered the process they will use to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Josh Thiel in May. They have 45 days from the effective date of Thiel’s resignation, May 31, to fill the seat, or the Circuit Court could do it for them.

That puts their deadline to take action on Wednesday, July 15.

Eighteen town residents applied to be considered for the seat, although two later asked for their names to be removed from consideration. Remaining candidates are Zach Cummings, Kari Nacy, Marantha Edwards, Tom Marshall, David Miles, Nicholas Clemente, Todd Cimino-Johnson, Gladys Burke, Sharon Babbin, Eric Christoph, Andy Jabbour, David Kirsten, Dianne Kellum, Zachary Klares, Peter Lapp, and Sean MacDonald.

The council in 2016 set a process under which each council member selected his or her top three candidates among the names submitted and the top three among all six council members’ choices were asked to give presentations before the council. The council then moved into closed session for discussion and voted to make its selection after coming back into open session.

But on Monday there was not majority support to follow that process, or other suggestions made by council members, until Vice Mayor Marty Martinez’s suggestion for each council member to come up with their top five choices and to discuss those names in closed session before voting on appointing someone. There was also majority support for that new council member to not take his or her seat until two weeks following the appointment, allowing them time to meet with the staff and get up to speed on issues before joining the council.

Among the applicants, only Cummings and Nacy have filed to run in November’s Town Council election, when this seat will be on the ballot for a new four-year term, along with the seats held by council members Tom Dunn and Ron Campbell and Mayor Kelly Burk. Dunn expressed his support for not considering any candidates for appointment who have stated their intentions to run in November.

The council is expected to discuss the appointment during closed session at its July 14 meeting.

The chosen applicant will serve until Dec. 31, when Thiel’s term expires. The new council takes office Jan. 1. 

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