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EDITORIAL: Running against the wind in Leesburg mayoral race

The photograph of the necklace touting this weekend’s fine arts festival in downtown Leesburg reminds us in some ways of the town and its unique place in Loudoun County: a jewel in a gold setting with diamonds placed at strategic points.

Leesburg is more than a county seat. It is a center of our culture, history and identity. We should wear it with stylish confidence. Swag.

Yet Leesburg fails to earn full respect around the county. Historic downtown could use an authentic facelift. Traffic is a problem, especially on the scenic byway known as Route 15, or King Street as it is known through the center of town. Parking is a headache. Everyone would like to see more shops, services, offices, festivals, restaurants and residences to make downtown a more vital place to be. And while Town Hall and the county’s Government Center are just a few blocks apart, the distance seems greater when Leesburg’s future is weighed against the rest of the county.

Making historic Leesburg more relevant amid the attention to the sleek and new – with abundant free parking – has been the topic of countless forums, planning sessions and discussions. While the county transforms daily with new mini-cities, housing developments and highways, progress crawls with the traffic on King Street.

That may be Leesburg’s legacy: Preserve what matters. Adopt the best of growth. Enhance the quality of life for those who have chosen the Leesburg lifestyle, as well as those who seek to discover it. Run against the wind.

The rocker Bob Seger put it this way:

“Well those drifters days are past me now
I've got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out.”

The three candidates running in Leesburg’s not-altogether nonpartisan mayoral election addressed the choices in a tame and informative forum last week sponsored by the League of Women Voters. While there were differences on some issues, distinctions among the candidates were rather minor. Each of the candidates has experience, having served on Town Council. Each seems to be earnest about how they will serve as mayor.

As we’ve reported previously, the Times-Mirror has decided not to endorse candidates or tell citizens how to vote in order to cover the issues and the candidates with greater independence and diligence. Yet we acknowledge our affection for Leesburg and our bias for the continuing success of the town.

Kelly Burk, Dave Butler and Kevin Wright have each demonstrated their commitment to Leesburg. Each is a capable candidate. But Burk, Butler and Wright are running against the wind of change.

What to leave in, what to leave out? That’s a question of judgment.

We trust Leesburg’s citizens to make a wise choice among three capable candidates for mayor. Who can best restore the luster on a jewel?


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