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    Eyebrow-raising mailers become issue in Leesburg mayoral race

    A mailer from Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd attacking her conservative challenger Thomas Dunn has sprouted a final-week flare-up in the town's nonpartisan contest.

    A two-sided flier from Umstattd, recently dispersed through traditional mail, reads, “How many times can one ethically-challenged man turn his back on Leesburg?” It goes on to claim Dunn “opposes all road funding,” “opposes all funding for police, fire, rescue and veterans,” and has supported higher density projects in the town.

    Dunn issued a statement Friday calling the mailers desperate and dishonest. He said such charges are unprecedented in a town election.

    "It is sad my opponent has stooped so low in this campaign to try to besmirch my reputation and take out of context my votes on key issues, plus drag in my deceased sister,” Dunn said. “No candidate in a council race has ever stooped so low.”

    One of the claims in the Umstattd flier states Dunn “tried to sneak through the appointment of his out-of-county relative to a paid position in town government that required town residency."

    "When caught, he was forced to pull the appointment," Umstattd's flier states.

    Dunn says the appointment was for his sister who had recently moved into his home. He noted the payment for the position is $50 per meeting.

    “She asked to have her name withdrawn when she found out she had brain cancer and passed away early last year,” according to Dunn.

    On the lines that Dunn "opposes all funding" for roads and public safety, Umstattd points to Dunn's votes against town budgets in 2013 and 2014.

    The mayor on Friday looked to turn the tables, saying it's Dunn who is constantly “on the attack” and playing dirty politics.

    “If you're going to vote against the budgets, you have to take responsibility for that,” Umstattd said.

    “This is the kind of thing Tom does. He will attack every council member. He does it from the dais,” she added. “He calls every one of us a liberal. He's always on the attack.”

    Dunn, first elected to council in 2008, said he did not vote to remove roads funding, but opposed the overall town budget because it was “too excessive."

    The mayor's mailer also blasts Dunn as hypocritical for his recent statements criticizing the council's closed sessions. Umstattd has been quick to point out that Dunn voted in favor of entering many of the closed "executive sessions" the councilman has railed against. Dunn said he essentially voted for the closed sessions primarily to find out what they were about.

    "Sometimes we go in [closed session] and we don't even know why we're there," Dunn said.

    The reverse side of Umstattd's flier touts a more positive message. It boasts that she has voted to hold down property taxes, fought to keep “sky-high, mega-buildings” out of the historic downtown and worked to secure road and transportation funding for Leesburg.

    Umstattd has held the mayorship since 2002.


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    Loudoun Business Journal - Summer 2014

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