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Leesburg Town Councilman Ron Campbell announces mayoral bid

Leesburg Town Councilman Ron Campbell announces mayoral bid in Ashburn. Times-Mirror/Alex Erkiletian
After less than a year of serving on the Leesburg Town Council, Ron Campbell announced today he plans to challenge mayor and veteran town councilwoman Kelly Burk in next year’s mayoral election.

In front of a room full of members from the predominantly African-American Holy & Whole Life Changing Ministries International Church Saturday morning in Ashburn, Campbell and his wife Barbara asked them to support his campaign, which he said would put “people over parties.”

“It is not only … that our time has come, but we believe that your time has come, your time to be heard,” Campbell said Saturday morning. “We believe in people over parties, we believe politics have divided us, and those who have followed politics have divided us. We believe that we need to be a wedge and a pathway to the kingdom for the work that we need to do.”

The reason he’s running he says is simple: “It is about leadership,” which he says he wants to see changed.

If elected, Campbell would become the first black mayor to serve the Town of Leesburg.

The 16-year Leesburg resident and cancer survivor said in an interview with the Times-Mirror that he is tired of what he describes on the Town Council as too much “partisanship” and operating from a “small-town mentality.”

He says he’s ready to change that by developing stronger relationships with other Loudoun towns and the Board of Supervisors, following up on past votes to measure success and past accomplishments, and by playing a more active role in solving the affordable housing problem and steering the town in a more concrete direction for its future.

Although he has only served as a local politician for less than a year, Campbell thinks his diverse experience in the public and private sector are what make him the most qualified to be the next mayor of Leesburg.

Over the course of his career, he has served as an associate vice president for student development and athletics at the University of Minnesota, CEO of the National Association of College Auxiliary and president and CEO of College Business Concepts.

“Say you apply for a job. What do they look at? They either look at the skills that you bring to the job or transferable skills and sometimes they look at length of service. There are absolutely no qualifications to run for office other than that you live in this town. Everything that I had before, I had before I got elected before I ran -- that makes me valuable.”

Campbell is a member of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee and was endorsed by LCDC when he ran for town council seat last year, but says he plans on running nonpartisan and will not seek any party endorsements.

“I can say moderate, I can say progressive, I can say I'm socially liberal and fiscal conservative -- labels are what got us in trouble in the first place,” he said.

Come January, Campbell says he will no longer be an active member of LCDC when it has its reorganization.

He pointed out that in order to renew membership on LCDC, he would need to pledge to only vote for a Democratic candidate in any contested race, but says he cannot “pledge my vote away” without any “principle decision about who should get my vote.”

He believes his vote belongs to him and not his party.

Campbell says he came to the decision to run about two months ago when he felt it was the “right move and the right time.”

Campbell points to some of the changes that have taken place on the town council in recent weeks, like Councilman Ken Reid’s sudden departure and Vanessa Maddox being elected during the council’s special election as some of the motivations behind his announcement.

“You can’t always change culture, but you can change people,” he said. “And it was an excellent time to try to provide some new leadership to people other than just continue the status quo and hope and change.”

Campbell said he is not worried his run for mayor against Burk will put any strain on the town council because he said, “Tension already exists – let’s just be real.”

He describes the tension as stemming from council members’ “lack of tolerance for diversity in ideas.” But he stopped short of describing exactly what his disenchantment is with the council’s current leadership when asked.

“I don't want to do is make this about me or Kelly, in the sense of satisfaction of dissatisfaction,” Campbell said. “It's about giving the community a chance to really choose the kind of leadership it wants. I can simply say that the kind of leadership I think we need, is one that's willing to talk, to be nonpartisan, to do the research in our various communities, to advocate for our residents -- whether it's schools or transportation or taxes. And to take a take an open minded position.”

Campbell also said he is sick of the council not wanting to show leadership when they think something doesn’t directly affect them.

About two months ago, when Loudoun County supervisors were considering whether to ask the General Assembly for greater discretion over the Confederate Statue that sits on the courthouse grounds in downtown Leesburg, Campbell was the most vocal council member on the matter.

Campbell was in favor of removing the statue and having localities exercise greater discretion over the monuments, but several of his council member colleagues, including Mayor Burk and Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox, would not state their position on the issue. They said they felt the question of whether the statute should be relocated or removed was not one they needed to answer because the Town of Leesburg technically did not have control of the statute because it sits on county property.

Campbell said the issue around the Confederate statue is not what has caused tension on the council, but its an issue that is hard for the town to avoid discussing.

“It’s hard for the town to distance itself from something that sits in the middle of town that’s represented by the county seat, which is Leesburg, in the County of Loudoun where our residents and others are impacted everyday,” he said. “Whether or not someone wants to say it is our business or not our business, what I simply say is -- we can't ignore it.”

The news of Campbell’s run has raised eyebrows for some.

Mayor Burk says Campbell’s bid for mayor has not changed her decision to seek re-election next year.

Over the past several months, Burk says it was obvious Campbell was planning to run, but finds his bid “ironic.”

“It's somewhat ironic that not even having a year in office and you're looking to run for mayor,” Burk said. “But most certainly, that is his right to do so.”

She also disagrees with some of Campbell’s frustrations with the current Town Council and rejects the notion that tension exists on the council.

“There's always disagreements … passions are running high and so people feel like they win or they lose, and it makes them anxious,” Burk said. “And especially when you're as inexperienced as he is, you don't realize that once a vote is over you move on to the next thing.”

Burk says she has a good relationship with constituents and a great working relationship with the Board of Supervisors, including Leesburg supervisor and former long-time mayor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) and Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large).

Burk also does not see any issues of partisanship existing on the town council.

“Perhaps in [Campbell’s] mind that's the situation, but once you're on the dais you have to work with whoever you can work with,” she said. “I've worked with Vice Mayor Fox as much as I worked with [Councilman Marty Martinez].”

“I try to work with people as I can work with them,” Burk continued.

Martinez, also the chairman of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, says he finds Campbell’s run “unfortunate.”

“It's unfortunate that he’s choosing to do this, but we make these choices and I’m not going to tell somebody not to,” Martinez said.

Martinez also disagrees with Campbell’s belief that there is a partisan divide on the Town Council.

“Overall if you just look at the record of the Town Council, before Ron got there and after, we’ve been able to do things that are nonpartisan,” Martinez said.

With Campbell’s announcement, Supervisor Umstattd says she is in a tough spot because both Burk and Campbell are friends of hers.

At this point she says it is still too early to say who she will support, but says she has always been a supporter of Burk because she admires her hard work despite their disagreements. Umstattd also said she does not find Campbell’s announcement unusual, or one that speaks to a dysfunction within the town council.

The former Leesburg mayor points out that she had an opponent in most of the elections she ran for mayor in.

“I don't view [his run] as a sign of anything other than Ron has some different ideas he wants to bring forward,” Umstattd said.

Speaking to Campbell’s angst of what he describes as a mentality on the town council of not taking a position on an issue because it is not within the town limits, Umstattd says job of the mayor is to mind the business of its citizens, but there are limits.

“I think the business of the town is going to consume, and should consume the energy of the mayor and council,” she said. “It’s really easy to get caught up in issues over which you really don’t have any control. Often it’s the more glamorous or interesting issues, but the people of the town expect their water to be clean, they expect their trash to be picked up, they expect the roads to be in good condition and that’s what you really have to focus on.”

Umstattd said that if someone wants to focus on higher-level issues, they should seek higher office.

“If you want to focus on higher level issues, than I think you run for the state legislator or you run for Congress,” Umstattd said. “One of the things I found frustrating when I was mayor, was the desire of some council members on occasion to have great visions that would cost millions and millions of dollars that didn't solve the problems that our residents had to face everyday.”


Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.

Comments


Glad to see the Umstattd-Burk-Downtown Cronie triangle threatened.  Town Council has been in need of a shake up for a long time and it seems this is the couple of years that is seeing that transition take place.


It is amazing amazing anyone else from the “church” (acts like PAC)could fit in the room with his ego.  He has done nothing and even points that out himself by saying he lives in town so he is qualified.  He knows nothing but how to the same word 5 different ways in the same sentence.
Lived here 16 years and quit a commission after 4 months. Then Martinez, Chair of the LCDC, appointed Mr Double Talk to a commission the year he ran for Council so it looked like he had some interest in his community other than himself.

The LCDC support was just fine for him when he ran for Council.  Then he got upset when his party would not give him the nomination to run for Congress.  He knows he cannot get the LCDC endorsement over Burk so he is claiming his new found religion is non-partisanship!

About his politics: liberal.  That is it.  He voted in a tax increase last year.  He just reversed an $8,000,000 funding request to the County (yet he claims to wants to work with the County) so now Leesburg taxpayers get to the rich mans burden at the airport.  Mr Double Talk voted against any reduction in spending at the Town Government level.  Every liberal claims fiscal conservative because they have to yet all their policies cost more money. 

His interests go outside of Leesburg as he clearly stated.  He does not like being bogged down with the real issues of the Town but wants to talk about regional and state issues.  Mayor is just another line on an otherwise empty public service resume for Mr Double Talk.


Guess he is all about himself. If he gets elected mayor in 2018 he can run for President in 2020.

Come on Loudoun, let’s ensure we have the next President from our county!

Just kidding..

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