Burk Wins Big in Leesburg; Reid, Campbell, Dunn Round Out Victors

Leesburg has elected a new mayor for the first time in almost 15 years.

Town voters selected Kelly Burk as their next mayor. She takes over for David Butler, a Town Council member appointed by his peers to fill the unexpired term of Kristen Umstattd in February. Umstattd was first elected Leesburg’s mayor in 2002 and re-elected seven times, placing her in the top five of the town’s longest-serving mayors. She won election last November to serve as the Leesburg District representative on the Board of Supervisors.

But now voters turn to her next elected predecessor, who herself is no stranger to the Leesburg political scene. Burk, currently the town’s vice mayor, was first elected to the council in 2004 and served three years before being elected to the Board of Supervisors as its Leesburg District representative. Defeated in her re-election bid in 2011, she won a special election to fill the unexpired council term of Ken Reid, who had defeated her for the board seat, in the spring of 2012. She won re-election two years later.

Mayor Dave Butler anxiously checks results as the first three precincts to report spell bad news for his campaign. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Mayor Dave Butler anxiously checks results as the first three precincts to report spell bad news for his campaign. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

She was the runaway winner in the mayor’s race Tuesday, tallying 8,295 votes, followed by former Town Council member Kevin Wright at 5,667 votes and Butler with 5,480. There were 1,459 blank votes in the mayor’s race.

Taking in the victory at Palio Ristorante Italiano, her first words to the crowd of supporters gathered was simply – “wow.”

“I can’t tell you how exciting and how humbling this is,” she said.

The longtime Leesburg resident, who first moved to the town in 1979 and now also has a grandson who also calls Leesburg home, said she sees her election to the mayor’s seat as a continuation of being able to serve town residents: first as council member, then supervisor, and now mayor.

“I have a big task ahead of me,” she admitted. “I’m looking forward to helping to make Leesburg even better than it is now.”

It will be a new looking council for the new mayor, but with some familiar faces. Reid was the top vote-getter with 7,404 votes, followed by Ron Campbell at 7,182, and incumbent council member Tom Dunn, who bested challenger Gwen Pangle by 43 votes, with a total tally of 7,065 votes. Twelve-year council member Katie Sheldon Hammler finished fifth with 6,936 votes, followed by challengers Evan Macbeth with 6,107 votes, and John Hilton with 4,603, according to unofficial results from the Loudoun County Registrar’s Office. There were 15,472 blank votes. Sixty-two percent of Leesburg voters turned out to cast their votes at the polls.

It will mark a return trip to the council for Reid, who served as a council member from 2006 to 2011, before beating Burk for election to the Board of Supervisors. He chose not to run for re-election four years later, when Umstattd won. But a year removed from serving Leesburg, he returns to the council dais.

He pointed to his record of serving Leesburg as a key reason for his victory, not to mention a strong door-to-door campaign. Reid said he is hopeful that the new council will be able to work together, and pointed to the division of council members along political party lines. He predicted that the special election that will be needed to fill the remaining two years of Burk’s council term, which expires Dec. 31, 2018, will be a “slugfest.”

Kevin Wright campaigns in Leesburg. [Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now]
Kevin Wright campaigns in Leesburg. [Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now]
That special election could have a few of the same names on the ballot as Tuesday’s. Hammler did not hesitate to say she is interested in running for that council seat. Pangle also said she plans to give a special election run “some thought.”

Two names you likely won’t see on the ballot are Burk’s opponents. Having been defeated in the mayor’s race, and his re-election bid to the Town Council two years ago, Wright said the results show that it is “time for a fresh face and fresh voice to step up for Leesburg.”

“We ran a good-hearted campaign. There’s not too much we could’ve done differently,” he said. “I left it all on the field.”

Butler said he is retiring from Leesburg politics when he lays down the gavel at the end of the year, but did not rule out other options, like county office. “I will definitely not be a candidate for the special election, and I will not accept an appointment to be interim councilor,” he said.

Butler said he appreciates the 10 years he’s had to help serve the town, and “I feel good about how I was able to help the town move forward.”

Campbell will be one of the council members wrestling with the decision of who to appoint, at least on an interim basis, to fill Burk’s seat. With his election Tuesday, he is the only candidate elected to the council that has not served on the political body previously. But in celebrating his victory Tuesday night, he said that while he doesn’t have political experience, he does have the professional experience needed to serve the community.

“I thank the people of Leesburg for their support in helping to move Leesburg forward,” he said.

Reporter Renss Greene contributed to this story.


6 thoughts on “Burk Wins Big in Leesburg; Reid, Campbell, Dunn Round Out Victors

  • 2016-11-09 at 6:52 am

    Did I read that right? Were there 15K+ blank (none-of-the-above) ballots? I retract my statements about Leesburg residents. Seems like there is at least 15K with some common sense.

  • 2016-11-09 at 9:05 am

    When I moved to Leesburg 10 years ago I knew very little nor cared about politics or any of the associated players involved on the town level. After realizing that our town wasted several hundred thousand dollars trying to inter-connect our neighborhoods through a series of sidewalks, footpaths and bridges, and did the design/conceptualization prior to the actual feasibility study, it forced me into getting to know those who wasted our money and why they failed to knock on 100 doors first before hiring the Architect and many others to perform their professional services. Most in this article are extremely culpable and there has never been any action for the loss of our tax dollars, which gets me to those who elected Kelly Burk as they apparently either just don’t know the past or simply don’t care about how OUR money is wasted on projects that never materialize and political allies. Her party was held at Palio Restaurant, which is owned by Michael O’Connor who owns many restaurants/buildings in downtown Leesburg. He is very affluent and has other vested interests and is heavily tied into the DNC and is very good friends with Kelly Burk, Gwen Pangle, Kristen Umstattd, etc. They are the old, school, old guard of Leesburg and scratch each other’s backs…. For those who aren’t aware, Michael O’Connor owns Leesburg Diner, and was the recipient of a massively expensive downtown sidewalk widening project, which Gwen Pangle marketed for years through the Leesburg EDC, which she heads/chairs, via Kristen as previous Mayor for their friend Michael O’Connor (as getting boots on the ground effort – more downtown patrons/shoppers), which turned out to be ironically a widening effort for “Paris Style” dining seating, on public property, for the Leesburg Diner as other restaurants in town have similar availability, but not Michael’s as his locations didn’t permit it at the time due to the location. Much to digest, but ironic that out of all the sidewalks in a Leesburg, this specific span was chosen, first and the only span to be addressed to date….. Why not the span of sidewalk adjacent to Lightfoot??? In closing, Kelly recently complained repeatedly, not by name, about Tom Dunn and his attempts to hold her fiscally and ethically accountable, but now Kelly will have a more outspoken Town Council member to deal with in Ken Reid. If the shoe were on the other foot, and this were Republicans wasting OUR money, and dolling out projects to their downtown friends, I would by writing this same very commentary. I loathe politicians abusing their positions…..

  • 2016-11-09 at 3:56 pm

    Ah, the less than honest comments by leesburgfinest (Not!). Lets look at the facts. Ken Reid, in his election piece, states he is in favor of and supports the downtown dining experiences, which are the very things that leesburgfinest (Not!) attacks. Also, Ken Reid, along with Tom Dunn, voted many times to support the outrageous spending project to take away the parking, in the downtown. And, then Mayor Umstattd again and again made a motion to stop that project, and was voted down. Interestingly, Tom Dunn and Ken Reid never voted along with her on that. So, maybe the “real” history will be told, but probably never by leesburgfinest(Not!).

  • 2016-11-09 at 7:10 pm

    I left the Council in 2011 so I never had the “opportunity” to vote on the wider sidewalk and parking elimination, which was approved in 2013, but would love to remove the North King project from the CIP or come up with some streetscape that will keep the parking. But I wish to thank the residents of Leesburg for their vote Nov. 8 and look forward to working for Leesburg again. 🙂

  • 2016-11-10 at 9:30 am

    Ken Reid is not telling the truth. For example, he argued for the raised crosswalk that you see on South King Street, while on the Leesburg Town Council. So clearly, he had a role to play in all of this. And I notice Ken Reid did not refute that he in fact stated in his campaign literature that he was in full support of the current restaurant sidewalk dining. And you only got that with the widening of the sidewalk, and taking away the parking. So, without even getting into the chair of his council seat, Ken Reid is already spewing untruths. Ken Reid is right back where he always seems to be, deceit and hiding from the truth.

  • 2016-11-10 at 5:07 pm

    Dave Butler and Kevin Wright ran dignified, classy campaigns. It is a huge loss for our Town that neither of them will continue in public service, likewise for Katie Hammler. As for Burk she has said she will “work hard for those who voted for her”. She won a plurality of the vote, not a majority. So to you who voted for Butler and Wright she will be busy helping her bar owning buddies on King Street and Harrison Street, not you.

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