With the November election less than four weeks away, three spots are up for grabs on Leesburg Town Council as well as the position of mayor.
Council members Tom Dunn, Dave Butler and Katie Hammler are all running for re-election as well as Mayor Kristin Umstattd.
A total of seven candidates and one write-in candidate will be on the ballot vying for three openings on the Town Council.
In a three-part series, including the first published Sept. 26 and the second published Oct. 3, the Loudoun Times-Mirror is profiling each of the candidates for Town Council.
This week includes incumbents Tom Dunn and Dave Butler as well as candidates Bob Zoldos and Dwight Dopilka.
Dave Butler has served on the Town Council for the last four years and before that he served on the Town Planning Commission as well as other committees.
During his time on the Council he has served as liaison for the Economic Development, Environmental, Tree and Technology Commissions.
“I’ve had a varied business background, from owning a small business to being a North American Support Director for a Fortune 50 company. I’m an Engineer by trade, and am a VA Certified Planning Commissioner as well as a graduate of the Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program associated with Uva,” Butler said. “This program brings together people from all across Virginia and is focused on bipartisan cooperation, that is, how best to ‘reach across the aisle’ to accomplish what’s needed.”
Butler wants to continue the successful work he began four years ago.
“I believe the Council has done a good job managing the town. I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve Leesburg for four more years to continue the good work that we have done,” Butler said. “My purpose in running is the same as it was four years ago. I want to improve the quality of life of every resident of Leesburg. Over the last four years, we’ve built the roads that we need, kept crime low, and added the outdoor pool and tennis bubble at Ida Lee. We’ve also removed a lot of ‘red tape,’ brought in many new businesses, while lowering the average tax bill every year. All of this has helped Leesburg get ranked four by Money magazine as the best town in America to live in.
“I will push to get our Committees and Commissions more involved in decision making. Too often, major decisions are made within projects without sufficient, or sometimes even any, input from residents,” Butler said. “Our Committees and Commissions are staffed by residents with expert knowledge in many different areas. It’s important that they are ‘in the loop’ to make our town projects the best that they can be.”
Butler wants to continue developing transportation in the town saying “it’s important that we find the political will to provide solutions for all modes of travel.”
Butler alluded that a decision needs to be made on the King Street improvements.
“Everyone I talk to loves the idea of on-street arts, entertainment, and dining. We need to get that done. We need to implement a tiered rate structure for our water rates. Our Water Rate Commission has made some recommendations and Council has failed to act,” Butler said. “We also need to everyone to have the ability to see their water usage on a day-to-day basis. This will help everyone manage their water better.”
Butler thinks his experience will greatly benefit his constituents.
“I have been a member of four of the Town’s boards and commissions, and a liaison for four others. That’s more experience than anyone else running,” Butler said. “This level of experience helps with knowing how the town does business and how to get the right things done. After all, that’s what’s most important, getting things done to move Leesburg forward and improve our quality of life.”
Tom Dunn has been involved in Leesburg issues for 14 years, first as a member of the town’s Economic Development Commission, then the Planning Commission and, finally serving on the Council during the last term.
Dunn has resided in Potomac Crossing since 1998, with his wife, Mary Jo, and their three children Ashley, 19, Shelby, 16 and Taylor, 10.
Dunn has helped people with their home financing needs for 18 years. He is a Leesburg small business owner where he conducts real estate title settlements.
He is running for the four-year-term on the platform of “A Better Town Council for All of Leesburg,” a Council that needs to refocus on doing the work of the citizens of Leesburg. Dunn wants to improve the local economy and jobs base, and move forward while preserving the town.
“It is important that the citizens still have at least one voice on Council. I still put the citizens first in my decision making on Town Council. If you look at all the candidates for Council and Mayor we are about the same thing: low taxes, more economic development, and better infrastructure,” Dunn said. “There are those on Council who feel your Tax dollars are here to support and strengthen government. They like to use terms like necessary services. I feel your tax dollars should be use effectively and currently you deserve some of those dollars back in the form of a tax rate cut.”
He has served as the Council’s liaison to the Board of Architectural Review and Thomas Balch Library Commission, and was past liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission.
As a candidate, Dunn wants to accomplish several things.
“I would look at areas which can lower fees and regulations which in turn bring in more business and thus jobs,” Dunn said. “I will also continue to work with County and State officials to obtain Transportation Funds such as the $5 million for Edwards Ferry intersection.
“I will continue to work for more effective spending of your Tax dollars,” Dunn said.
Dunn has also served as the Town Council representative to the Economic Development Committee and the Education Committee of the Virginia Municipal League.
Dunn and his family are active in the community as they are involved with the Loudoun School of Ballet, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Loudoun Therapeutic Riding, Little League, football, Cub Scouts and they are 17-year members of Christian Fellowship Church in Ashburn.
“What most qualifies me for this office is I still put the citizens first in my decision making on Town Council. While other Council members and their candidate friends may claim to do so it is not always the case. There have been times where this Council has brought citizens repeatedly back to Council chambers because of Council indecision or flat out flipping on issues,” Dunn said. “Then, there is times this Council did not agree with citizens on issues and thus denied to even have public input on the matters. I truly feel that while Council is full of nice people it does not mean they are still making nice decisions for everyone.
Dwight Dopilka has been a resident of Leesburg for the past 10 years with his wife, Lisa, and three daughters, Alicia 18, Krisann 15, and Sidney 12.
He currently serves as the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors liaison to the Leesburg Executive Airport and works as a systems integrator and project manager. He has 25 years experience in private sector business and project management.
Dwight narrowly lost the April 17 special election to fill the remaining term on the Leesburg Town Council of Ken Reid who was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in November.
According to Dopilka, he will bring an independent, principled, disciplined, conservative and more than 25 years of extensive private sector business and project management experience and service to his community to the position of Leesburg Town Council.
Originally from Camden, N.J., Dopilka received his bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from the University of Central Florida in 1985.
Dopilka has three major issues he is focusing on for this election.
“I want to promote expanded private sector business development and job creation. I would implement a complete top to bottom independent review of all town processes and eliminate non-value added work flow steps that don’t expedite the creation of new businesses and jobs. The goal would be to reduce these unnecessary steps by 20 percent to start,” Dopilka said. “I want to improve the efficiency of town services while lowering real taxes paid and unnecessary regulations. The cost and service efficiency of town can be improved by a complete independent review of how the town collects revenue, allocates budgets and implements services.
“In the area of regulations, I want to review and evaluate with the net result of reducing unnecessary regulations to enable Leesburg to be the place to start and grow a business in Loudoun County. By improving the regulatory environment we can increase the business tax base and permit a reduction in personal taxes paid,” Dopilka said.
Dopilka thinks the current tax system in Leesburg is handcuffing the Town’s ability to create more revenue.
“We face a tax and regulatory environment at the town level that stifles and impedes new business growth, job creation, and places ever increasing private citizen tax burden. I want to foster an opportunity business environment that increases our freedom and liberty to pursue happiness living in Leesburg,” Dopilka said. “We also face safe, and timely public transportation service in the Northeastern part of town. The existing Safety Bus service is not working as it could and we can do better. Not one person should feel compelled to cross the Route 15 Bypass to get to work or shop while risking their lives.”
Long-time resident Bob Zoldos is looking to return to the Town Council after serving two terms from 1998-2006.
“I believe in conservative values and conservative ideas for the efficient use of available Town resources. I will focus on the impact to our residents prior to making a decision,” Zoldos said.
There are several main issues Zoldos is looking to tackle should he be elected, including the Loudoun County Court Complex expansion, out-of-town utility rates, the Town Code realignment, King Street revitalization, the 2017 Debt Service, annexation and attracting commercial business.
“Downtown Leesburg businesses will not survive if the Court complex is moved from the downtown area. A reasonable fee must be determined for out-of-town utility users to ensure that the Town’s growing infrastructure is on a sound financial basis to maintain, repair and construct new systems as required,” Zoldos said. “Action must begin to modify or realign the Town Code to permit changes which will attract businesses to Town. The King Street project will have a major impact on downtown business. Plans need to be thoroughly studied prior to implementation so as to get the best impact with the least disruption.
“Probably the most important issue that looms not too far in the future is the 2017 Debt Service. Actions and decisions must be made now to ensure that the Town does not default on its obligations,” Zoldos said.
Zoldos thinks his previous experience on commissions will greatly benefit the town regarding annexation.
“Having served as the co-chairman on the Town’s Annexation Committee in 2002, I possess valuable knowledge of the benefits and pitfalls of taking this route. The acreage near the Leesburg Executive Airport is now under consideration by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to change the zoning to permit residential housing just off of the departure end of Runway 17, or south of the airport. In addition, agreements fashioned by former Town Councils and Boards of Supervisors need to be upheld in the Joint Land Management Area. Those properties were set aside for the Town to consider future annexation,” Zoldos said. “Attracting commercial business is essential that the Town develop a continuous strategy to attract businesses within its corporate limits. Corporate businesses generate a tax base that reduces the burden on citizens and homeowners alike.”
In addition to his time on council, Zoldos served on the Airport Commission, the Tree Commission, the Finance Commission, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Technology and Communications Commission and the Environmental Advisory Commission.
Zoldos has been a resident of Leesburg for 44 years.
He and his wife, Kay, have raised two sons, Bobby and Tom. They also have three grandchildren.
Zoldos’s son, Bobby, was elected as the Mayor of Lovettsville in May.
Zoldos has been employed by the Federal Aviation Administration for the past 37 years as air traffic controller, supervisor and facility manager and branch manager.
Zoldos holds a bachelor’s degree from Shepherd University.
As a council member, Zoldos “prioritized the issues facing the Town, posing solutions to those identified problems, gathering the facts to be informed and determine what the impact would be to our residents prior to implementation. In other words ‘doing the right thing’ for residents, using a common sense approach.”
“I strongly believe in conservative values and conservative ideas,” Zoldos said. “Resident’s tax dollars must be used wisely for the needs of the Town citizens and not on wants. The Town’s resources in these austere times must get ‘the best bang for the buck.’
“Leesburg has been a great place to call home and has provided a safe environment for our children to grow. I want to give back to the community by serving once again on the Town Council,” Zoldos said.
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