Letter: Katie Sheldon Hammler, Leesburg

Editor: As I seek the support of Leesburg voters this fall for re-election to a fourth term on the Town Council, I am reminded that this is only the second election when council members will be on the November ballot with candidates for President.  I was one of only three council members who had supported moving the elections from May in odd years in order to increase voter turnout.  As a Loudoun Now editorial recently pointed out, moving the town’s balloting to the fall even-year general election ran the risk that races could become more overtly partisan, and they have.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  As I ask the voters of Leesburg for their support for another term on the Town Council, I want to emphasize that I am again seeking to serve all the people of Leesburg in a non-partisan manner, without regard to partisan political agendas, party affiliations or presidential preferences.  This is a local election, and it must remain so.

I’m focused on problem solving in Leesburg . I do not belong to any political party, and as in the past I did not ask this year for either local party’s endorsement. As such, I will be the only candidate not on either party’s sample ballot.

I respect the right of other candidates for Leesburg Town Council to have sought and received endorsements by the local party committees. They will now be on sample ballots with former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton or with New York businessman Donald Trump. But I believe Leesburg voters don’t want our Town Council races to become annexes of the presidential campaigns, which have been notable this year for their lack of attention to so many real issues and for their lack of civility.  That’s why so many people are voting against one or the other presidential candidates, rather than for someone.  We must do better in Leesburg.

Under Virginia law and Leesburg’s town charter, our town elections are non-partisan races, and I am campaigning once again in conformance with that principle.  I have served Leesburg residents on the Town Council continuously since 2004, longer than any other candidate.  And throughout my three terms, I have sought to work with council members regardless of politics and to bring a common sense, non-partisan approach to make the best decisions for the issues facing Leesburg.

I respectfully thank you for printing this letter and for the opportunity to again seek the support of Leesburg residents from all across the political spectrum on Nov. 8.  Even as you support partisan candidates at the federal level or for other council seats, please recognize that my candidacy affords you a unique opportunity to vote for someone at the local level who pledges to use common sense, to be non-partisan, to put you first on the Town Council, and to work only for you for the next four years in our little corner of democracy.

Katie Sheldon Hammler, Leesburg

5 thoughts on “Letter: Katie Sheldon Hammler, Leesburg

  • 2016-09-12 at 9:33 pm

    A little history here. It was the Board of Elections in 2009 that requested various town governments consider moving their elections to November for cost reasons ( for them and us). Turnout in May elections had fallen to 15%. We failed to get Council to agree to move it to November in even years and the odd year issue failed, too. I along with Tom Dunn, supported either odd or even. As a result of the Council’s intransigence, we did what Christiansburg and other communities did and engaged in a year long petition drive to put it to referendum. We decided on even years for several reasons. One, the turnout in even years is better and the ballot is simpler with just Congress and president. But because the Council has staggered terms, if we went to odd-year elections it would mean 3 Council members would be running in the year the Governor, Lt. Gov. Attorney General and House of Delegates were on the ballot, with around 40 percent turnout, and in the other cycle, 3 members would be running with State Senate, House of Delegates, Constitutional officers and Board of Supervisors on the ballot, and only about a 25 to 30 percent turnout. So, to us, it seemed that even years were more equitable. As for parties endorsing candidates, they would have done that in odd years as well as even. The Loudoun Democrats always endorsed and worked the polls for their candidates during May elections; the Republicans did not get involved in May elections. This is largely why the Democrats on the Council dug in their heels and opposed voting for any election changes. When the referendum went to the voters in 2011, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee opposed it on their sample ballot. Still, the referendum passed with at least 70 percent voting “yes” and so fall elections are here to stay and so will endorsements by political parties, PACS or other groups.

  • 2016-09-13 at 11:40 am

    Always nice to see Ken Reid’s “historical renditions.” However, it should be noted that, first, Ken Reid wanted the town elections to be on odd-numbered years. Statistically, odd-numbered years see a dramatic decline in the voter turnout. From about 75% to about 26%. And no one should doubt that Ken Reid was well aware of that. Not to give credit to Tom Dunn, but here I have to. He, and a citizen who worked on the petition wanted even numbered years. Also, the republican committee of Loudoun County, always worked the May town elections, just like the democrats. Finally, a majority on the town council at the time did the responsible thing, and sought the views of the citizens of Leesburg, rather than have Ken Reid decide for them. You can find article after article in which then council members said just that, that this was an important decision, and the residents of Leesburg should be the ones to decide. And it should also be pointed out that with the first two November elections, then Mayor Umstattd proved to be the highest vote getter of every candidate on the ballot, including national offices. And finally, notice that Ken Reid sought the endorsement of a political party, even though it appears from his comments, he did a bad thing for doing it. Go figure.

  • 2016-09-13 at 1:05 pm

    Hammler flip flops on issues so much neither party would have her. However, she is much closer to being a liberal then she is anywhere near a conservative. She is for all the liberal social issues and talks about saving tax payers money but then votes for high government spending.

  • 2016-09-14 at 11:22 pm

    Lawgh – How do you even compare a local mayoral race % to a National Presidential Race %. Of course Kristen won 2-1 while the others were barely 1-1. How does this correlate to your argument?!

  • 2016-09-15 at 9:34 am

    Thank you for the question, Leesburgfinest(Not!). For the last two Leesburg Town elections, when then-Mayor Umstattd was on the ballot, voters came to the polls, and voted for many public offices, including, for the Town of Leesburg At the end of the day, all those many votes are counted, for each candidate. And guess what. Who got the most votes among all those many candidates running for all those many offices. Former Mayor Umstattd, that’s who. She got more vote than anyone else, for all the offices, of all levels of government. She got more votes than each presidential candidate. And that goes for all the elections for officials. I take that to mean she is pretty darn popular.

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