Leesburg voters will still have two options on the ballot for November’s mayoral race.
More than two weeks after the Loudoun County Democratic Committee endorsed the town’s incumbent mayor, Kelly Burk, over Town Councilman Ron Campbell, Burk’s challenger has issued a statement on his campaign plans.
In his statement, Campbell pointed to a pledge he made to the LCDC to suspend his campaign if he were not successful in securing the endorsement. Monday, in a letter addressed to his supporters, he said he would honor that pledge.
“I share your disappointment that I did not get the endorsement; however, there are still serious issues to address for Leesburg and I pledge that I will use my voice to promote open and civil conversations on Council. I promise to continue to support all Leesburg residents and businesses to the best of my ability over the next six months until my term ends on December 31, 2020,” he wrote.
But while Campbell will formally end his campaign, Leesburg voters still have a choice. He ends his letter with a nod to those supporters who encouraged him to run for mayor and helped him gather signatures on petitions needed to be on the ballot. As a testament to them, he said he will not ask for his name to be removed from November’s ballot.
Campbell said he knew seeking the LCDC endorsement given his past history with the organization came with a risk. He sought and received the Democratic endorsement in his first bid for office in 2016, when he was elected to the Town Council for a four-year term. But in 2018 he left the organization after he challenged its rules that require members to sign a loyalty pledge to only support Democratic candidates. He did not seek LCDC endorsement for his first mayoral bid against Burk two years ago, but recently returned to the organization.
“I decided to travel this difficult path to seek the LCDC endorsement for Mayor knowing that it was a lot to ask of the local Democrats to fairly hear my voice. However, it was the path I chose so that our town, which is currently facing multi-million dollar revenue deficits as a result of COVID-19 and the recent national unrest facing all communities because of the loss of black lives at the hands of law enforcement officers, would not become embroiled in political divisions and dysfunction because of the campaign process,” he wrote. “Our town elections should not be decided by political parties. All of us who are elected have an obligation to serve all of the people. The current reality of town elections and how people vote makes it difficult to run without any endorsement, but I saw a small path forward to run a campaign in a more inclusive fashion and change the nature of our local elections to be about people and accountability.
While the Town Council is a nonpartisan body, since its elections moved from May to November in 2012, no candidate has been successful in being elected to a seat without an endorsement and support from one of the county’s top two political parties.
In addition to his time serving on the council, Campbell also founded the Citizens for a Better Leesburg group, which recently held the well-attended “I Can’t Breathe” march and rally through downtown Leesburg. He said he expects the movement to last well beyond his time on the council, and encouraged others to join in.
Campbell’s four-year council term expires Dec. 31.