Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Leesburg's Election - An Analysis

The election results for Leesburg are now all in. The election saw some of the lowest turnout ever, with only 8% voting in town. Three Councilmembers were elected, with Dave Butler, endorsed by the LCDC, leading the way with 1,184 votes, more than even the incumbent, Katie Sheldon Hammler.
In Leesburg, Dave Butler was the top vote-getter for the Town Council with 1,184. Incumbent Katie Hammler was re-elected with 1,181 votes. Tom Dunn secured the third seat with 1,087 votes. Frank Holtz was fourth with 1025 votes. Mayor Kristen Umstattd, running unopposed, received 1,495 votes. - Leesburg Today
This means that the anti-government wing of Council now has two members (Ken Reid and Tom Dunn) and the Mayor and her good-government majority retain a narrow block with the addition of Dave Butler and the re-election of Katie Sheldon Hammler. Councilwoman Hammler will probably be the "swing vote" on council for any issue of divided opinion. It will be interesting to see whether the voices of little government oversight and action from the right are loud enough to change the direction the Town has taken, or whether Dave Butler's decisive victory in total votes for Council will remind the Council that the voters of Leesburg want responsible, managed government, not further erosion of services and oversight.

There were two last-minute events in the Council race which may have impacted the results while staying below the radar. First, an interesting flyer claming to explain Dave Butler's "real" record was circulated in some neighborhoods just before yesterday's election. The flyer was little more than a trumped up attack pamphlet, which may have done more harm than good for those who printed it (considering that Dave won handily and the Republican establishment candidate, Frank Holtz, lost in spite of his overwhelming lead in signs). It's a sad testament to the state of our politics that an attack flyer against a candidate would be used in a local, Town Council election. It's a great validation of Leesburg's voters that the candidate who was attacked went on to get the most votes.

Second, the local Obama campaign sent out an email right before the election to their supporters in Leesburg, urging everyone to get out and vote for Dave. It's possible that the email put Dave over the top. This is the kind of party-building that the Obama campaign has promised to do, and delivered on, in towns and counties across America. Back in February, there was a lot of speculation that the Obama effect could have an impact on downticket races in Virginia. In Leesburg yesterday, we have the first evidence that may be happening. The key to returning our nation to good government and common purpose is recruiting and electing responsible Democrats at all levels, starting with Town Councils and Boards. In Leesburg this morning, that process has continued.

Congratulations to all the winners! May you serve the Town with honest and good judgment.

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