Leesburg Town Council | Social Distancing

Leesburg Town Council practices social distancing during its March 24 meeting.

After a series of failed, evenly-split votes for a number of candidates, Leesburg Town Council voted Tuesday to postpone its appointment of a temporary council member following the May 31 departure of Josh Thiel.

Council members earlier this month submitted to the clerk of council their top candidates for potential appointment to the position, according to council documents.

One candidate, Nicholas Clemente, received five votes in that process, while three others — Gladys Burke, Marantha Edwards and David Kirsten — each received three votes.

A resolution on the meeting’s agenda stated council’s intent to discuss whichever candidates receive at least four votes for consideration.

However, Councilman Ron Campbell’s motion to appoint Clemente failed 3-3, with Mayor Kelly Burk, Vice Mayor Fernando Martinez and Councilman Neil Steinberg opposed, leading council to proceed down the list of additional candidates.

Each subsequent motion to appoint a temporary council member failed with identical division of votes until Councilman Thomas Dunn moved to postpone the vote until council’s next meeting, with Campbell seconding.

Dunn, who voted in favor of Clemente, noted his surprise that, despite having been endorsed by five of the six sitting council members, Clemente’s appointment failed.

Though council members are technically nonpartisan officials, Campbell decried the evening’s voting process as an “embarrassment” and criticized council’s willingness to “be drug down into partisan politics.”

However, Burk and Councilwoman Suzanne Fox — the latter having voted in favor of Clemente — said they did not know Clemente’s political leanings.

Documents say a temporary council member would only serve until Dec. 31, as Thiel’s seat will come open during this fall’s election cycle, along with Dunn’s and Campbell’s.

Running for the three open seats this November are Dunn, Ara Bagdasarian, Zach Cummings, Bill Replogle and Kari Nacy.

Newcomers Bagdasarian, Cummings and Replogle have been endorsed by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, while Dunn and Nacy have previously been backed by the Loudoun County Republican Committee, though the LCRC has not endorsed Leesburg Town Council candidates thus far in 2020.

A Leesburg Town Council post is nonpartisan, but candidates typically seek the endorsement of a major party’s local committee.

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