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Leesburg voters head to the polls Tuesday to elect Reid’s replacement

From left, Gwen Pangle, Neil Steinberg and Josh Thiel.
Three familiar faces will be on the ballot Feb. 6 to fill former Leesburg Town Councilman Ken Reid’s seat: Gwen Pangle, Neil Steinberg and Josh Thiel.

While their views on upcoming town issues differ slightly, all the candidates say they want to bring bipartisanship to what they see as a politically divisive council.

All Leesburg voters are eligible to vote in Tuesday's election. The winner will fill the remaining three years of Reid's term.

Gwen Pangle ran for Town Council in 2016, losing one of three empty seats by only 42 votes. The owner of real estate firm Pangle and Associates, she has served on multiple boards, chairing the Leesburg Economic Development Commission and the Leesburg Downtown Business Association. She currently serves on the board of Friends of Leesburg Public Arts.

“I really want to have an open, honest dialogue with people,” she said. “I’d love to get back to a kinder, gentler, more harmonious town council.”

The new council member’s first job will be approving the 2019 budget, and if elected, Pangle intends to study the document thoroughly: “I feel like we need to kind of align with the vision with the town … I really want to sit down and take a look at it.”

As for the Economic Development Steering Commission report, Pangle approves of most of the recommendations, adding that she would like to make the development application process easier—not to give developers a pass, she said, but to keep citizens and local business owners from paying the price for slow government.

Pangle did not seek an endorsement from either political party out of a desire to run a non-partisan campaign.

Neil Steinberg, the owner of Photoworks, started to campaign for this year’s special election but pulled out of the race in August, planning to run for a four-year term in 2018.

However, with Reid’s resignation, he decided now would be a good time to run: “I would like to take my turn for public service,” he said.

Steinberg’s primary goal as councilman would be to create an atmosphere of respect in council discussions. He also wants to boost tourism to the downtown area and inform citizens of council decisions.

As for the budget, Steinberg did not provide any particular approach, stating that he doesn’t want to “create any more of a burden [to taxpayers] than is necessary.”

Steinberg was not entirely happy with the Steering Commission report, saying that development decisions should stay entirely with the Board of Architectural Review instead of being turned over to town staff in some cases.

He would also like to explore creating an H-2 overlay district that would impose design guidelines on the five entry corridors into town, as long as property owners would be in agreement.

Josh Thiel lost to Councilwoman Vanessa Maddox in this year’s special election, but credits the support of his wife and friends for his decision to run again.

An employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, 27-year-old Thiel serves on Leesburg’s Economic Development Commission and volunteers with multiple community groups.

He also runs JT Kicking and Training, a coaching service for students who want to learn football kicking—Thiel was a starter in college football.

“I’m willing to work with anybody at any time,” Thiel said. “I think it’s been politics as usual for too long, and people have suffered because of it.”

Besides making a goal of bipartisanship, Thiel plans to streamline next year’s budget, stopping the double-tax and being careful to not spend tax dollars on services the town doesn’t use.

Thiel applauded the Steering Development’s work: “You couldn’t ask for a more thorough report…. The town does need to take it into consideration.”

Reid resigned Dec. 1 to pursue a job in southern Virginia.


I think most folks are still a little angry that Ms. Pangle looks very little like her campaign “glamour shot.”

I remember seeing her in person and thinking, I have been DUPED!

Vote for Thiel!

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