Campbell Leaves Leesburg Council, But Not Public Service

Leesburg Town Councilman Ron Campbell will say goodbye to his Town Council duties come Jan. 1, but don’t expect him to leave public service altogether.

Campbell joined the council in January 2017 and went on to run three campaigns in a matter of four years. During his term on council, he twice challenged Mayor Kelly Burk for her seat, but was unsuccessful on both occasions. The second time around, in November’s election, he chose to forgo a re-election bid for his own seat, and instead ran for mayor.

“Whatever I thought my path was going to be, I didn’t plan on running three campaigns,” he said with a laugh. “I got my energy from my spiritual nature. To put myself in harm’s way of poking the bear, I did so willingly because of what’s at stake.”

The word he chooses to describe his four years of service? Proud. 

Campbell pointed out that he was only the third African American elected to serve on the Town Council since 1757, and said the votes that brought him to the dais came from “a very diverse and inclusive voting base.”

“I’m proud that I used my voice to speak for those who were not as entitled as others, to speak to a proud set of issues from education to health care. I’m proud of the work we tried to do in terms of development. I’m most proud that I served. I raised issues, but it still takes three other people to vote for [it]. I’m extremely proud that I listened to other people, that I voted in ways that were inclusive of other people’s issues and not just my own. I fully represented every area of the town and the community and that doesn’t often happen,” he said.

Campbell also pointed to his somewhat controversial decision in the first few weeks of his term to nominate Councilwoman Suzanne Fox to be vice mayor. Campbell, who in his first bid for office had been supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, drew the ire of some in his party for nominating a Loudoun County Republican Committee-endorsed candidate. 

“It may have been unpopular politically, but it was necessary. I believe Suzanne demonstrated what we wanted to see—us working better together as a council,” he said.

Political divisiveness, unfortunately, was all too common during the entirety of Campbell’s council tenure. 

“I’m disappointed that the council became so hostile, personally hostile that they couldn’t listen to the issues because of the person” who raised them, he said.

He said he wished this council could’ve seen through an update to the Memorandum of Understanding between the town and the Loudoun County chapter of the NAACP. Campbell also said the town’s handling of its CARES funding could have been better managed to get more money to residents and businesses. He also wishes the council would have supported moving the conversation of a law enforcement civilian review committee forward.

Although he will no longer be a presence on the dais, Campbell is insistent that he will not fade away, and will remain a voice in the community. He points to his creation of the Citizens for a Better Leesburg advocacy group as an example. 

“I’m not going away because we have deepened ourselves in a good way into our community. [Some] politicians seem to disappear when they lose because all of their platforms allowed them to disappear. That won’t ever be me. I’m a community member. Now as a community member, Citizens for a Better Leesburg has a lot of work to continue to do,” he said.

First up on that list is the establishment of a citizen-led committee working in concert with the Leesburg Police Department, Campbell said.

“The town won’t be involved and that’s OK. The town had an opportunity to show some leadership. Because it’s citizen driven like it is in most major cities, that is something we will still drive forward as an immediate issue,” he said.

Campbell also was recently elected as first vice president of the Loudoun NAACP, serves on the Board of Directors of the Waterford Foundation, and is Executive Director of the Loudoun Freedom Center. Expect him to stay busy, and heard, he said.

“I don’t have time to go away. I just have more time to do other things that don’t require a vote,” he said. “I’m quite satisfied where I am. I want to give more time and attention to my family and the community. I want to support more candidates running for offices whose voices need to be heard,” he said.

Campbell pointed out that it wasn’t until his early 60s, following two bouts with cancer, that he was elected to office. 

“One of the things I’ve learned is I don’t have to be elected to be effective. I’ve been effective before. I’ve been a leader my whole life,” he said. “This didn’t make me. This allowed me to use my skills that I’ve generated but politicians don’t make change in our community, people do. My work as a community activist right now is more powerful than any elected position that could be held by anybody.”

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