Friday, March 19, 2010

Leesburg Mayoral Candidates 2010

I would be remiss if I did not post about the upcoming Leesburg Town Council election, which will be held on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. This year, there are five candidates for three Council seats, and two candidates for Mayor. I will discuss Council candidates in a later post. For now, I would like to focus on the Mayoral race.

As a prologue, it is important to know that Leesburg elections are strictly non-partisan, and the Town government has always strived to avoid political fights in executing the Town's business. Last year, there was some discussion of a plan to move the Town elections to November, to coincide with the Federal elections. The theory was that it would save the Town money, but an analysis of the actual costs of May elections showed that the savings were minimal. (About the equivalent of one or two new computers.) Furthermore, it was thought that moving the election to the Fall would create more partisanship in the election, as Council candidates would doubtlessly be caught up in the national campaign and its issues.

This is brought up because Tom Dunn, a candidate for Mayor, was one of the two council members (the other being Ken Reid) to vote in favor of moving the election from May to November.

Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd is running for re-election. While the Mayor was voted an award by the LCDC a few years ago for her service, she frustrated many local Democrats with her flirtations with the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. She has also frustrated others with her stance on one of the defining issues of 2007-2009, water rates. In spite of a court ruling against Leesburg's surtax on out-of-town water customers, the Mayor maintained her position that a large out-of-town surtax is legal and advisable. The Town Council voted against the Mayor to rationalize in-town and out-of-town rates in April of last year.

Opposing Mayor Umstattd is Council member Tom Dunn. This is a "free" campaign for Mr. Dunn, as he does not have to give up his seat on Council to run, and if he loses he retains his Council position until 2011. Mr. Dunn has consistently opposed government since being elected to government. That sentence is not a contradiction, as Mr. Dunn believes in cutting Leesburg's government to the bone, and then further. He opposes government so vehemently that he did not even appoint anyone to one of the Town's commissions until last month. He is often the one "nay" vote on issues that the Town widely supports. If Mr. Dunn becomes Mayor, it is not clear what will happen to what is widely considered one of the best-run local governments around.

I, for my part, will be supporting Mayor Umstattd.