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Leesburg Council selects new town manager, despite scathing dissent

The Leesburg Town Council voted Jan. 28 to hire Kaj Dentler as the new Town Manager.

Dentler, the current Deputy Town Manager, will replace John Wells, who retires Oct. 3. Wells, who has served as town manager for nearly a decade, announced his retirement last October.

The council voted 6-1 to approve a two-year contract for Dentler, effective Oct. 4.

The lone dissenter was councilman Thomas Dunn, who offered a scathing opposition.

"This has been a closed process from the beginning to the end. It was predetermined by Council that Dentler would be the Town Manager," Dunn stated in a press release. " There was no work session to set the guidelines, there was no national or regional search and there was no public input sought."

Dunn also shot that the majority of the Council simply wants Dentler to continue "failed utility policies," "wasteful spending policies" and "failed staff management policies."

In December, the council elected to open the position to current town staff members, rather than utilizing a consultant for a regional or national search.

“My comments have nothing to do with you, Kaj,” Dunn said at the meeting. “This has to do with Council and the process.”

Dunn argued the whole process should have been open, with public hearings. Instead, interviews with conducted in closed sessions or via telephone. Dunn contrasted the hiring the Loudoun County Superintendent, where public hearings, surveys and a national search where conducted.

Another criticism was a lack of diverse candidates.

“This was predetermined,” Dunn said. “When given the opportunity to interview all candidates that came forward, the one candidate that didn't get an opportunity was one of diversity.”

The other Town Council members iterated that they held no qualms.

“I'm very comfortable with the process we went through,” Dave Butler said at the meeting.

Councilman Kevin Wright added that there was a benefit in having Dentler take over because he'll be able to work directly with Wells during the transition period.

“I think it's just another positive benefit we have of being able to find a candidate internally,” Wright. “I'm more confident now that this process has given us the best candidate we would find for a town manager.”

Dentler joined the Town of Leesburg staff in 1996, first serving as parks director before being promoted to Deputy Town Manager in 2007.

“I think we are fortunate to have someone so able to fill John Wells' very large shoes in October, if John must retire,” councilwoman Katie Hammler said when motioning to the vote.

Dentler will serve from Oct. 4, 2014 to Oct. 4, 2016 with an annual salary of $174,000, according to his contract.


As much as it pains me to say this, for once I agree with most of what Tom Dunn says.  Mr. Dentler may very well be a good choice, but without opening up the search process how do we know he was the best choice?  Leesburg has gotten too big for small town politics.

“When given the opportunity to interview all candidates that came forward, the one candidate that didn’t get an opportunity was one of diversity.”

Did Mr. Dunn really have to go THERE? That was a card that didn’t need to be played. Disappointing.

What a gameplayer Tom Dunn is.  Name names, Mr. Dunn.  What person of “diversity” was in the mix.  What “process” are you alluding to.  The whole thing makes one thing clear.  When Tom Dunn puts his “signs for mayor” at all the polls last week, he was announcing his run for mayor.  And then, this game playing effort.  In other words, it is clear that Tom Dunn is the one playing all the games, and he clearly does not care how this affects the incoming town manager.  There is a good reason why Mayor Umstattd trounced Tom Dunn four years ago, and a good reason why she is going to do it again.

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