On Monday, January 11, I attended my first town council work session as a member of the Leesburg Town Council. It was a learning experience being among the councilmembers and discussing the issues on the agenda. We ran through a list of organizational topics that included the town council rules, an ethics policy, the invocation during council meetings, and re-organizing the Airport Commission. These issues will come up during the next couple work sessions. I look forward to discussing the issues.
A few notes from these organizational issues, I do not support eliminating the invocation. I proposed and will pursue asking the Diversity Commission to find a diverse group of religious leaders or residents to lead our invocations during the town council meetings. I believe this will be a way to keep the quiet moment before our meetings intact and engage our community members. My intention to ensure the participants come from all religions and all areas of Loudoun County. I look forward to discussing this at the next work session.
Additionally, I'm interested in discussing the ethics policy for the Leesburg Town Council. We need to ensure that all members of the town council are acting in an ethical way that best represents Leesburg. When someone does not act in a way that follows our ethics code, there must be a process to discipline those members.
I asked for a work session on my Pandemic Business Relief and Recovery Plan. I will post more on this plan, including the full text, this week.
At our first official town council meeting on Tuesday, I was disappointed that a proposal to allow disconnections via Leesburg Water & Sewer passed. I voted against ending the moratorium. I do commend our staff for working hard to communicate with residents that are behind on bills to get them into a payment plan before taking the drastic step in shutting off water. If you or someone you know are struggling to pay utility bills, please reach out to Loudoun County Information & Referral for help. Their phone number is 703-777-0420. If you'd rather reach out to me, I'm happy to help connect you as well.
Additionally, I was honored to be selected to be the council liaison to the Thomas Balch Library and the Board of Architectural Review for the town of Leesburg. I look forward to working with the board members on these boards.
Finally, I wanted to leave you with the comments I made during the Council comment section of the meeting:
"I'm honored to be here and to be serving the people of Leesburg. I urge any member of the public to reach out to me with their questions or concerns."
"As elected officials, our words matter. When you question the validity of an election with rumors, innuendos, and conspiracy theories you harm our democracy. Those elected officials that inspire divisiveness and insurrection must be held accountable for their words and actions. What we witnessed on January 6 was an attack on the very seat of our democracy and was spurned along by the words of some of our elected officials. We all must remember that our words matter. "
"With that being said, I look forward to working elbow to elbow with all the members of this council. When I disagree with you on an issue, I will do it without being disagreeable. We have a lot of issues to handle to keep our town moving forward and I look forward to working on these issues with all of you."
The next town council work session will be Monday, January 25 and town council meeting will be Tuesday, January 26. Both begin at 7 PM. As always, don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at email@example.com.
On December 10, 2020, I took the oath of office along with new councilmembers Ara Bagdasarian and Kari Nacy, as well as Mayor Kelly Burk, at a small outdoor ceremony. I was honored to be sworn in by Judge Jeannette Irby. Judge Irby was a former Leesburg Town Attorney. It is an honor to serve the people of Leesburg!
Additionally, I've been attending a number of orientation meetings with town staff to get up to speed on our town infrastructure, zoning, utilities, human resources, and other issues. These sessions were incredibly informative and will help provide a solid base of knowledge as I begin my term on town council.
Finally, I am going to work to streamline my updates via this blog. I plan to write an update at least once a week and sometimes more often if the issues or events warrant additional updates. If you have specific questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (571) 246-2668. I will continue to use my Facebook page to communicate as well, but the more thorough updates will be via this blog. As always, I welcome your comments, concerns, and ideas.
On Wednesday, November 11, I was honored to attend the Veterans Day Commemoration at Dodona Manor in Leesburg. This is a yearly celebration of our veterans hosted by The George C. Marshall International Center, Loudoun County, and the Town of Leesburg. The event featured our local veteran organizations, local vets, and elected officials. Despite the rain, this event was well attended and was a moving tribute to those that have risked everything to defend our country.
At the event, guests heard from keynote speaker, Rear Admiral (Retired) U.S. Navy, Thomas Lynch. Admiral Lynch gave a great talk about his distinguished career in the Navy. He spoke about the sacrifice and service of our women and men in uniform. Admiral Lynch also spoke about George C. Marshall and his service to our country and the world.
My favorite moment of Admiral Lynch's talk was when he described the creed he and his fellow sailors followed, "...ship, shipmate, self." These three words were used to remind everyone onboard Admiral Lynch's vessel that the priority and focus when making a decision was to the ship, your fellow shipmates, and then your self. It wasn't just about what's good for you! It's about the whole ship, then your fellow shipmates, and then self. America, fellow citizens, self...that's the focus we need now. We need leadership that puts our country first, our fellow citizens, and then themselves. I hope we can all live by Admiral Lynch's creed a little more each day.
Kudos to Master of Ceremonies, Dennis Boykin. Dennis is one of our great Leesburg residents and follows the example Admiral Lynch set out. Thank you, Dennis!
This was a great event and I look forward to touring Dodona Manor again soon when it opens to public tours. Happy Veterans Day to all of our women and men that serve and have served. Thank you for your sacrifice and for making our country safe and secure.
On Election Night our campaign was victorious. Through the hard work of our volunteers and donors, we didn't just win--we came in first place! Thank you!!
I'm so humbled and honored to serve the people of Leesburg on town council. It's going to be a demanding year helping our small businesses continue to thrive, pass our town budget, and work to guide Leesburg into a new decade. I'm ready for the challenge!
I wouldn't be here without you. As always, please reach out anytime. I owe you a debt of gratitude for your support and help. Thank you!
Stay healthy and safe,
On October 28, 2020, I attend a virtual community meeting of the committee writing a strategic plan for the unmet housing needs in Loudoun County. Affordable housing is an incredibly important issue facing Loudoun County and Leesburg residents. The public meeting was an opportunity for citizens to express their opinions on the unmet needs here in Loudoun County.
The citizens who participated expressed their opinion via some virtual survey questions. One of the questions was what type of residential housing is needed. A majority of those in attendance believed more apartments are needed with a focus on variety, i.e. number of bedrooms, layouts, etc. The number one challenge, and this isn't a shock, was cost of housing. The virtual meeting notes, ideas and opinions will be used in crafting the county's strategic plan for meeting our housing needs.
Overall, the opinions expressed mirrored what I'm hearing from Leesburg residents on housing and the affordability of housing. We have a great challenge as community leaders and concerned citizens with affordability of housing here in Leesburg. This is one of our greatest challenges. A safe and stable place to live is essential, especially for our children. As a member of Leesburg Town Council, I look forward to working with Loudoun County and the state of Virginia to help ensure Leesburg residents have access to affordable, safe, and stable housing.
On October 1, I was happy to attend the ribbon cutting celebrating the partnership between Chefscape and LoudounGO. This partnership is incredible and bring together Loudoun County farmers, wine and beer makers, and other "makers" with folks looking to buy from them and have them delivered to their home. I'm so happy to see this business anchor here in Leesburg. Check out the LoudounNow article below:
LoudounGo, ChefScape Team Up for Local Food Hub
A partnership among several area businesses looks to make it easier to get locally sourced food to local residents.
LoudounGo will make its debut inside ChefScape’s Village at Leesburg space this week. What it brings to the Loudoun marketplace is a food distribution hub, located in the commercial kitchen space, that will provide a physical and an online market for Loudoun-based and other food vendors.
Founder Luke Baldwin also started sister company LoudounStay, which pulls together a network of Loudoun-based bed and breakfast establishments. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit stateside, Baldwin shifted his focus to LoudounGo, which has been in operation since May.
“We’re not going to be having people staying in our places now,” Baldwin realized upon COVID’s stateside landfall. “Let’s support and if we can help people move their product to people’s homes so they can keep their business and the marketplace going.”
Baldwin teamed up with EatLoco founder Dan Hine and Courtney West, owner of Chariots for Hire, to bring the idea to life. The group found an ideal location in a distribution center with ChefScape, which had the needed infrastructure already in place. Many relationships with area food producers, chefs and caterers were already forged, thanks to Hines’ role in the partnership as well as those who were already located within ChefScape.
“ChefScape is the infrastructure for a lot of these food and beverage businesses that need a location to operate out of, in a food incubation environment,” ChefScape COO Ginny Grivas said. “A lot of farmers market vendors that Dan manages are members of ChefScape. A lot of consumers Luke can deliver to or provide a platform for are our members. There’s a very natural partnership between the three of us.”
ChefScape also is providing space for assembling and distributing for the orders that LoudounGo receives for customers within a 100-mile radius, Grivas said. It will also have a marketplace area dedicated to LoudounGo products near the building’s entrance.
Also in that partnership is Chariots for Hire, which has had to shift its own transportation business, with proms and weddings mostly canceled or postponed because of COVID. Baldwin had planned to work with West on his LoudounStay business, providing a transportation option for those visiting Loudoun. When he called West with his idea to use Chariots for Hire to deliver the food products to consumers, he said West was all in. Having the familiarity with Loudoun’s road network, including its winding country roads, makes the company an ideal partner, Baldwin said.
“COVID has had a significant impact on our business and has left much of our fleet sitting in our parking lot and our drivers sitting at home. Our partnership with LoudounGo has been great because not only does it provide work for our drivers but it’s also a fantastic service for our community,” West said.
Grivas pointed out how many food vendors now have to depend on delivery for a significant source of their business income. The service offered by Chariots for Hire, at a lower cost than some of its food-delivery competitors she pointed out, cannot be understated.
In addition to offering food delivery to local residents, LoudounGo also boasts itself as the only ecommerce site that can broker online sales of wineries, breweries and distilleries straight from the source to someone’s house, Baldwin said.
LoudounGo also is working with JK Community Farms to encourage farmers to donate any products or prepared meals left over from farmers markets to local food pantries. A pickup spot for these donations will be housed at ChefScape, along with donation centers in Purcellville and Round Hill, Baldwin said.
Another special piece of the partnership puzzle is ChefScape’s relationship with Chef Erik Fox-Nettnin, who recently left Magolias at the Mill restaurant in Purcellville. Fox-Nettnin is set to join ChefScape as a member soon, Grivas said, and he will offer guidance to chefs on how they can pivot their businesses during the pandemic. Fox will also offer services as a mobile chef, where he can be hired to cater private meals, and even will provide Thanksgiving pick-up meals through his Polished Foxx catering company.
Baldwin is hopeful that the success of both LoudounGo and LoudounStay will be tied together, and will draw attention to the county as a special food and tourism destination.
“What my personal goal is for this is really helping people in the Washington metro area find a great experience in Loudoun County, find those nooks and crannies and special places in Loudoun County. Those that want to sell through us will have the platform. Additionally, it’s also educating folks that you can really buy local and don’t have to go to 30 different places. The more we can get people to commit to local, when they feel comfortable enough to come out, they’re going to come out and visit,” he said.
Grivas called the new company, “an incredible thing for our local economy.”
“LoudounGo is providing additional lines of revenue where there weren’t before,” she said. “Food trucks, farmers market [vendors] are displaced seasonally, some don’t know how to do online, or how to change and pivot their channel. With LoudounGo you can do this year round. We’re giving you a way to operate 12 months a year. Even before COVID a lot of these businesses didn’t have that.”
On Wednesday, September 16, I participated in a forum with the candidates for Leesburg Mayor and Town Council hosted by the Loudoun County League of Women Voters. The forum was an opportunity for Leesburg residents to hear the candidates on the ballot this November. The forum was very well run and Mr. Norm Styer, from LoudounNow, acted as the moderator.
I enjoyed answering questions on a range of issues from my priorities if elected--helping our small businesses--to Westpark all the way to our town plan. As I said many times, Leesburg is growing and the opportunities our town has cannot be pushed aside. Our town council must look at every option and act accordingly. We were asked about our priority if elected, my priority is to help our small businesses survive the current health crisis and thrive after we come out on the other end.
We discussed the WestPark opportunity, I said that I support the green space and that the council needed to do their homework to find out how to pay for the land and work with the community to determine what type of park it should be. We're seeing a need for green space with more families looking for social distanced activities.
The discussion came around to ending the gridlock on town council. I believe that we will see a change on council with fresh blood coming on in January--no matter who wins! Additionally, our elected officials have to do a better job of communicating and disagreeing without being disagreeable.
Finally, we discussed the town plan. The town plan is our governing document that highlights the town vision for the next five to ten years. The town council and planning commission use the town plan to analyze development proposals as they come in front of the these bodies. Under state law, the plan must be updated every five years. We're currently re-writing the town plan and the new council will vote for the final draft next year. We must re-evaluate our town plan more often than every five years or more. Our town is growing quickly, COVID-19 has changed the needs for green space, office space, and housing. Our town cannot wait to adjust our plans especially when so many decisions rely on the town plan.
The main takeaway from the forum is that there are many folks running that care about our wonderful town. Again, I had fun engaging and answering questions. I look forward to answer more questions! Feel free to email email@example.com with your questions.
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Send donations and correspondence to
PO Box 1515
Leesburg, VA 20177
Paid for by The Committee To Back Zach