UPDATE: Councilman Dave Butler tapped for interim mayor post
David Butler’s town council plaque shifted to the mayor’s spot Monday night after a four-person majority elected him Leesburg’s interim mayor.
“I will do the best I can to move the town forward,” Butler told the Times-Mirror.
When former mayor and new county supervisor Kristen Umstattd stepped down at the end of 2015, council members initially could not agree on who should become interim mayor, voting to postpone a decision until the next meeting, on Jan. 26.
However, Winter Storm Jonas canceled that meeting, leading Council Members Butler and Suzanne Fox to call a special meeting on Feb. 3. That meeting was postponed to Monday night so all council members could attend.
The meeting began with more division and dead motions. Council member Kelly Burk, citing the wish to open the interim mayor’s position to the public, moved to advertise for Leesburg voters to submit applications. Members of the town council could have sent in their resumes, as well. However, the motion reached a stalemate, 3-3.
Council Member Katie Hammler next nominated Terry Titus, citing his “leadership” in Leesburg and Loudoun County. Titus served on the Town Council in the 1970s and took an interim council member seat in 2012 after Ken Reid left for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. This motion also reached a 3-3 stalemate.
Almost as soon as the vote died, Hammler called for Butler’s nomination.
“I hope we can break the stalemate,” Hammler said.
Burk, who does not want the interim mayor’s seat to be a shoo-in for mayor, spoke out against Butler’s nomination. He has not categorically stated that he will stay out of the mayoral race, though he has not officially announced a run, either.
Butler, meanwhile, carried on a whispered conversation with council member Tom Dunn. When asked later what he was talking about, Butler said he could not recall.
When the vote was called, only Burk and Fernando “Marty” Martinez voted against Butler, which is striking given Butler, Burk and Martinez are all well-established Democrats, though Town Council seats are officially nonpartisan.
Butler immediately called a five-minute recess. It stretched into a 20-minute wait for Clerk of Council Gary Clemens to arrive and swear Butler in.
During the wait, the room buzzed with confusion and questions about the appointment. Many didn’t know why the council was waiting so long to reconvene.
Martinez was one of those disappointed with the night’s results. “Being open and transparent aren’t just easy words,” he said. “[Citizens] didn’t get the ability to talk.”
Butler later agreed that the evening’s events were confusing, but he thinks that this is in part because the entire process has been a new and divisive one for the council. “We have not had this situation occur, in everyone’s recollections,” Butler said.
However, Butler stood by his belief that someone already on the town council needed to take the mayor’s seat. “I think it’s important to have that kind of continuity,” he said. “If I run [council meetings] half as well as Mayor Umstattd did, then I will feel successful.”
After Butler swore his oath of office, the council reached its first unanimous agreement of the night: to advertise for Butler’s empty town council seat. Leesburg voters will have five business days to send in applications. The interim town council member will hold his or her seat until the November elections.
During the ensuing work session, Butler’s first actions were to call for the volume of council meeting webcasts to be raised and for council members to hold a public, off-site meeting to determine what their priorities should be before budget discussions.
Butler will remain interim mayor through the end of the year, when Leesburg’s new mayor will take his or her seat.
Original story: Monday, 10:43 p.m.
Leesburg Town Councilman Dave Butler will serve as mayor of Leesburg for roughly the next 10 months.
Town Council voted 4-2 tonight to have Butler serve the remainder of the year, with Butler and council members Tom Dunn, Katie Hammler and Suzanne Fox supporting his appointment.
There appears to have been some deal-making behind the Butler vote. While Butler is a well-known Democrat, the other two Democrats on the board, Burk and Marty Martinez, did not support his candidacy.
The mayoral slot came open after former mayor Kristen Umstattd, a Democrat, was elected to the county's Board of Supervisors as the Leesburg representative.
Town Council has been at odds over the past month on how to fill the seat. Burk, who is running for mayor in November's election, said she did not want to serve the interim term, and she voice support for selecting someone not currently on council.
The town will now seek an eligible Leesburg resident to fill Butler's seat for the remainder of the year.
This is a developing story.
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