The Leesburg Town Council will hold their election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Three seats are available including the role of mayor.
Ten candidates will appear on next month's ballot, which includes current Leesburg Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd. She was first elected to the Leesburg Town Council in 1992, was named Vice Mayor in 2000 and was first elected Mayor in 2002. She hopes to continue serving Leesburg by winning another term.
Below are Umstattd's responses to a list of questions asked by Leesburg Patch last week:
Q: What made you decide to run for mayor/town council?
A: Leesburg is a great town, and not just because CNN/Money Magazine has named us the 4th best place to live in the U.S. It’s a great town because people work together across cultural, religious, and political lines to make things better for each other. I am constantly impressed with the strong sense of community that our residents and businesses demonstrate. In what other community would parents and children from nearly a dozen different schools unite to raise money for a playground at the newest elementary school in town? In how many other towns do members of different churches get together regularly to pray for the people of the town? In how many other towns do local businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and the VFW organize picnics for our local heroes, our National Guardsmen? All of this is typical of the teamwork we see in Leesburg every day. Being mayor puts you in touch with the people who spend all their free time making Leesburg a better place. It is really a blessing to get to work with the people of this town.
Q: After speaking with the voters during your campaign, what is one concern that you've heard the most and how would you address it?
A: The issue that comes up most often is taxes, followed closely by water rates. People want to ensure that their taxes and their water bills are as low as possible. That’s why I’ve voted to hold down spending so that we could lower the average tax bill five years in a row. And the same goes for water rates. When we were sued by out-of-town water users, who wanted to lower the out-of-town water bills by 50 percent and raise our in-town bills by 33 percent to make up the difference, I insisted that we fight for Leesburg’s residents and businesses all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court. We did and we won.
Q: A recent debate in the town has been the possible relocation of the court system from downtown Leesburg. What are your views on this topic as well as your position?
A: The Town Council and I have consistently expressed our strong opposition to a county proposal to close the downtown courts complex and build a totally new courts complex south of town on Sycolin Road. Building and outfitting an expanded courts complex from the ground up on Sycolin Road would cost county taxpayers over $180 million on top of the over $30 million recently spent to expand and renovate the existing downtown courts complex. It would be nearly impossible to justify an expenditure of this magnitude to town and county taxpayers.
The county already has all the plans and Town Council approvals it needs to fully expand the courts in the downtown, either on the old jail site, or on the privately owned Courthouse Square property, or both.
Another related proposal coming from the county is for the Town Council to close Church Street. Ostensibly, this is to provide greater security for the downtown courts complex, but many court systems across the country operate safely next to much larger streets than Church Street. In my view, even as a court security measure, closing Church Street is completely unnecessary and would make life all but impossible for the downtown residents and businesses that rely on Church Street access.
Q: How do you feel about the upcoming election? How has your campaign been going and do you have any big events planned prior to Nov. 6?
A: I love campaigning door-to-door, so my campaign is not really a big-event campaign. It’s a small-scale campaign, based on talking one-on-one with individual voters. I feel that is the best way for me to know what people are thinking. If I have a sense of what people are thinking, it’s my belief that I can better represent them as mayor. Anyone who wants to follow the campaign can get an idea of what I’ve been up to by going to Facebook.
Q: What is one thing that you would like the voters to know about you before heading to the polls in November?
A: I believe in working hard for Leesburg and in fighting for Leesburg’s families, for their right to lower taxes and lower water rates; for their right to live in a place that embodies the values of small-town America; for their right not to be run over by over-development; for their right to worship and grow their churches and faith communities; and for the right of our troops to be honored, whether they are going into combat or coming home.
To read more about Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd check out her campaign coverage on Leesburg Patch.
Leesburg Patch will continue to share Q & A's each week leading up to the Nov. 6 election. Did you miss one? You can find more campaign coverage here. And, don't forget to submit your questions to the candidates.