Purcellville’s business community had an opportunity to hear from several candidates on the ballot next Tuesday at a recent forum hosted by the Purcellville Business Association and moderated by Loudoun Chamber of Commerce president Tony Howard at Otium Cellars.

Two candidates vying for an open seat on the Purcellville Town Council were in attendance – Sean MacDonald and Erin Rayner. The other candidate at the forum was Virginia House of Delegates candidate Democrat Paul Siker, who is challenging republican incumbent Del. Dave LaRock (R-33).

Howard posed several questions touching on issues mostly related to the business community, such as economic development, workforce recruitment ideas and growth in the town of Purcellville. Each candidate had a chance to respond as well as provide opening and closing remarks.

MacDonald, who recently moved to the Village Case neighborhood in Purcellville earlier this year with his wife Lisa and their young daughter, works for the Department of Homeland Security. He is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is a licensed pilot.

Last year, while living in Leesburg, he applied for an open seat on the Leesburg Town Council.

In his opening remarks, he thanked the business association for hosting the forum and said he has a clear platform to advance low growth, low taxes, infrastructure investments and innovative solutions.

“I do not believe in just letting the future of our town be guided by contractors and town management. It should be guided by our citizens who live here and pay taxes and pay water and sewer bills,” he said in his opening remarks.

Rayner, who ran for a council seat in 2020 and finished fourth in a race with three available seats, has lived in Purcellville’s Mayfair neighborhood since 2017 with her husband, Kristian, and two daughters. She is the executive director of former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s Women in Leadership program.

“I love Purcellville,” Rayner said. “I am running because I want to help. I want to work on economic development issues and infrastructure and that is why I’m running,”

Siker, a small business owner and entrepreneur, has lived in Waterford for 26 years and in Loudoun County for 33 years.

He said he was inspired to run after the events that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021 and observing LaRock’s response to that day, as well as during the pandemic.

“I have the time, ability and opportunity to bring the representation back to the 33rd district,” Siker said.

Howard asked each candidate to describe the ways in which the business community is important to the town of Purcellville and how it contributes to the town’s quality of life.

“Businesses are vital to the town for the tax revenue, amenities, tourists. We need the business community to be successful and flourish. We need it for our budget to keep things going. It breaks my heart there are over 17 open storefronts boarded up and empty in Purcellville,” Rayner replied.

Siker agreed that local businesses are important to the community.

“A vibrant community has a vibrant business base. The number of businesses I rely upon in Purcellville is extensive. There are numerous vendors I count on to provide things I need. You want to see a healthy community that has a healthy business environment,” responded Siker.

“As Mayor Fraser says, you measure the dollar as it passes through town,” MacDonald said. “It contributes to the tax base and invites guests. So, fairness, productivity and policy infrastructure investment enable business success and is providing the best quality products and services to our citizens.”

Howard also asked each candidate if they believe there is a difference between being pro-business and pro-growth and if so what is that difference?

MacDonald answered, “I think pro-growth and pro-business are separate. I think you can stay small and I think business can grow at the same time.”

Rayner also said she believes being pro-growth and pro-business are separate.

“I am pro-business but I am not pro-growth. The only development I want to see in Purcellville is economic development. We need revitalization, we need to work within our walls to do infill. That’s the only growth I want to see.”

Siker said that he is also pro-business. “We want continuity and a landscape that assures businesses have a level playing field, and if I do things right, I can grow my business.”

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