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First out of the gate: Vincent Bataoel announces Middleburg mayoral candidacy

Vincent Bataoel is running for mayor of Middleburg. Courtesy Photo
When Middleburg’s veteran Mayor Betsy Davis announced she won’t run after the end of her current term in 2018, Vincent Bataoel sought her blessing before he announced his candidacy.

The 30-something founder of Above Green, an environmental consulting firm, has a simple vision for Middleburg: Balancing past and present, tourism and community.

“My first priority is to make sure that we keep Middleburg a small town,” he said.

Bataoel believes that most of his big breaks in life came through “serendipity.” Growing up a White Sox fan on the south side of Chicago, an interest in science led him to Iowa and the Maharishi University of Management. He graduated with a degree in environmental science and earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. One day, his wife and then-girlfriend Nelina Loiselle encouraged him to ask a local business if it wanted a LEED consultant for their new building. The business said yes, and more jobs arose out east.

Loiselle, Above Green’s co-founder and a devoted equestrian, insisted that they set up shop in Middleburg. They bought an office on South Jay Street and have worked with major business and military clients. In the meantime, Bataoel joined Middleburg’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC).

Bataoel considered running for mayor this past year, during his second term on EDAC. A spate of old establishments closed, darkening windows along Middleburg’s main street and causing business owners to panic.

Bataoel and Councilman Peter Leonard took action by visiting Loudoun restaurants and businesses, asking if they would like to open a second location in Middleburg. Most had never thought of Middleburg, in spite of its healthy visitor traffic.

King Street Oyster Bar and its owner, Rick Allison, bit. The popular Leesburg restaurant will be opening in the old Home Farm building soon. Bataoel hopes to attract more local businesses in a similar way.

“I think that we’re just not inviting enough people to our party,” he said. “We need to go out there and find the businesses that are good for our residents and our visitors both, and then .. invite them.”

Another of Bataoel’s priorities is to balance Middleburg’s thriving tourism industry with its small-town charm. Attractions such as Salamander Resort and the Middleburg Film Festival are great assets, Bataoel believes, but he does not want to see the town become more of a destination than a community.

“We have to make sure that we’re a town with tourists and not a tourist town,” Bataoel said. “We’ll be having conversations about, for example, should we spend $80,000 on marketing for the town. Could the $80,000 go to a better community purpose?”

Improving and maintaining Middleburg infrastructure, Bataoel believes, will be better for residents and tourists alike. For example, he would like to stop the projected increases in water rates and return to the community’s equestrian roots by supporting local events.

With the election coming up in May 2018, Bataoel has a lot of campaigning ahead of him. However, he hopes that residents will resonate with his vision for the town.

“It’s the first time in my life that I feel like I have a purpose besides making profit,” Bataoel said. “There is so much tradition and so much civility and values that have been maintained over the years [in Middleburg] ... I love being able to walk down the street and know people.”

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