On Thursday, September 10, I was invited to tour the Leesburg Airport. I was given a tour and background by Dennis Boykin, Airport Commission Chair, and other members of the commission. I learned a great deal about the incredible opportunity Leesburg has with the airport. The airport is an asset to our town with its revenue generating capacity, as well as the airports economic development aspects. Our airport sees individual owner planes, corporate jets, and flying school aircraft using the airport. Our town, thanks to the focus of the Airport Commission, has grown a small airport for hobbyist into a professional, revenue generating operation.
The Leesburg Airport staff and commission work with the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Customs, and local pilots to keep those flying and our residents safe. I was incredibly excited to hear about how the Airport staff went above and beyond to work with the Mayor, town council, and our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. and Richmond to get funding to help grow the Leesburg Airport.
There are some incredible things happening at the airport. As a candidate for town council and, if I win in November, as a councilman, I will work to continue growing our airport. Additionally, I believe the staff work to generate revenue and funding from state and federal sources is a model for other departments in the town of Leesburg. As the commonwealth's largest town, we need to go and get our fair share of funding from state and federal sources.
On Wednesday, September 16, the League of Women Voters will be holding a virtual forum with the candidates for Leesburg Town Council and Mayor. As of today, this is the only opportunity for voters to hear from all 5 candidates running for town council on one "stage." I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to answer questions and talk with voters about why I'm running for Leesburg Town Council. You must RSVP for the virtual forum by clicking here.
Last night, the Leesburg Democrats sponsored a town hall focusing on the southeast and southwest of Leesburg. The town hall was held virtually on Zoom with all the Democratic candidates for town council and Mayor Kelly Burk. I was incredibly impressed with the questions poised by the residents that attended the virtual town hall. It was a great opportunity to discuss the development happening in SE/SW Leesburg, as well as the Westpark property, and the overall vision for the town of Leesburg.
I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss what smart growth is for me. I know a lot of time people complain about candidates using platitudes and buzzwords to discuss issues. Smart growth can sound like a buzzword, but for me smart growth is growth that is a net positive for the town of Leesburg financially and in regards to our town plan. I hope to see more re-development of Leesburg to fit the current and future needs of our residents. An example of smart growth is the Ketterman's Jewelry building on Catoctin Circle. The building used to house one business and then sat vacant. The Ketterman family purchased the building and redeveloped it to house four businesses, including their jewelry shop. These three or four businesses will create tax revenue for the town. Additionally, there was no need for the town to build a road, sidewalk, or lay new water/sewer lines to the building. This makes this re-development a net positive for the town of Leesburg. As I look throughout the town, there are opportunities like this to re-develop. As a council, we must ensure our entrepreneurs and property owners have the ability to redevelop their space to maximum use.
Another issue that came up was our how our town can help our small businesses. I'm always happy to talk about our town's economic development role. The town of Leesburg has staff with the specific role of economic development and they work incredibly hard to promote Leesburg and our businesses. As a member of town council, I will work to ensure they have the resources to continue their important work, and I will fight to help get them even more resources. In addition to resources, I believe the town of Leesburg needs to create our own Leesburg Economic Development Authority. An authority allows the town to pursue private, state, and federal funds to assist our Leesburg-based businesses and promote the town of Leesburg. In addition to creating an authority, I will urge our town staff to continue to partner with the Small Business Development Center located in Leesburg and ensure our businesses know about the resources the SBDC offer. Finally, I want our economic development team to focus assistance for our residents that are starting their businesses in their basements, backyards, or garages. We don't know how successful a business could be when they start, so we must work to help as many businesses as possible succeed.
Finally, we discussed the Westpark property and the town's option to purchase. I don't believe the council could make a decision to purchase or not purchase the property because there was no due diligence performed. The majority of town council members didn't believe the town staff could focus on guiding the town through COVID-19 and performing careful study of the Westpark property. This inability to study Westpark is very frustrating to me because we don't know what type of opportunity this purchase could have been. We should have at least studied the purchase, performed an appraisal, and then made an informed decision. The reality is at this point Westpark is off the table.
Overall, this was a great opportunity to answer questions from residents and layout my reasoning for running for Leesburg Town Council. I will be posting a link to the recording of the town hall here shortly.
Earlier this evening, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan joined a virtual rally with supporters and friends to discuss the 2020 election for President all the way down to Leesburg Town Council. Ryan discussed how Vice President Joe Biden is fairing in Ohio and across the country. He also gave the attendees an update on what's happening in Congress with the most recent COVID-19 relief legislation. We also discussed how to cut through gridlock and work with elected officials of the opposite political party. We had a great question and answer session. I am honored to have Congressman Ryan's support.
Cummings Visits Ampersand Pantry Project
Mayor Kelly Burk and the Democratic candidates for Leesburg Town Council were invited by Leesburg attorney Peter Burnett to visit the Ampersand Pantry Project on Market Street. The project is a non-profit helping to feed our most vulnerable citizens during the current health crisis. Mr. Burnett and his team of wonderful volunteers have handed out over 29,000 meals. The Ampersand Pantry Project has partnered with local non-profits, like Mobile Hope, and local restaurants to prepare meals and groceries for those in need. The team of volunteers were incredible to see in action. They all were working hard to handout lunches and other grocery items, as well as diapers and feminine hygiene products in a way that protected the volunteers and the folks receiving the items.
The Ampersand Pantry Project is driven by donations and volunteer help. It's an amazing operation that is making the difference to residents of Leesburg and Loudoun County everyday. Thank you to all the volunteers. If you'd like more information on how to volunteer or contribute to help keep the pantry operating, click here.
This evening I was honored to receive the endorsement of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee with eighty votes. As a life-long Democrat, I look forward to working with members of the party to run a strong campaign that wins in November. Additionally, I'm excited to run on a ticket with Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk, Ara Bagdasarin, and Bill Repogle.
Borrowed from the Loudoun Now
Leesburg's Council Ballot Set...
Seven candidates will vie for four seats on the Leesburg Town Council in November, with the filing deadline expiring Tuesday.
Mayor Kelly Burk, in her bid for a third two-year mayoral term, will face a familiar challenge. Councilman Ron Campbell, whose own council term is up at year’s end, officially qualified for the mayoral ballot just before the deadline. Campbell challenged Burk two years ago, but finished third in a three-way race that also included Councilman Tom Dunn.
On the Town Council ballot, Dunn is the only incumbent running for another four-year term. If successful, it would be his fourth victory since having joined the council in 2008. He has also run for mayor three times, twice against former mayor and current Leesburg District Supervisor Kristen Umstattd and two years ago against Burk.
Challengers include first-time candidates Zach Cummings, Ara Bagdasarian, and Bill Replogle, and second-time candidate Kari Nacy, who ran for the council for the first time in 2018.
Election Day is Nov. 3. Those who are victorious at the polls will take office Jan. 1.
While as many as three new faces could join the council dais in January, there will be a new addition even sooner. At the council’s next set of meetings, June 22-23, council members are expected to appoint a new member of the council to fill Josh Thiel’s unexpired council term, which runs through Dec. 31. Thiel resigned from the council in May because of a move outside of town limits, as well as family and work obligations. Applications from town residents interested in filling the seat for the remaining six months of the year are being accepted through June 15.
While the town races are non-partisan, Campbell is also expected to challenge Burk for the Loudoun County Democratic Committee endorsement. The committee is scheduled to make its endorsements June 13. Burk has received LCDC support in both of her previous campaigns.
The following article is from the Loudoun Now.
Cummings Announces Leesburg Town Council Run
January 23, 2020
A Leesburg resident whose political career began in his Ohio hometown has his sights set on a seat on the council dais of his new home.
Zach Cummings, a four-year town resident who lives in the Greenway Farms neighborhood, has filed paperwork to run for one of the three Town Council seats on November’s ballot.
If elected it wouldn’t be his first political rodeo. Cummings ran for—and won—his first council seat in his hometown of Dover, OH, in 2005 at just 23 years old.
“I was born and raised there so I felt like I wanted to give back to the community that gave me so much,” he said.
It was a steep learning curve, Cummings acknowledged.
“I was 23; I hadn’t really gone out and experienced much, other than going away for college. I learned very quickly [a council position] is not as sexy as you think,” he recalled.
Cummings said he learned a lot from his first political stint, serving almost all of his four-year term before resigning to take a job out of the area. Now, with his family settled in Leesburg, he is looking to serve again.
“What drew me to Leesburg was the sense of community I felt,” he said. “It mimicked to me what I grew up with. To be able to give my son that same community feel in an era where that community feel isn’t everywhere, that is pretty special to my wife and myself. Part of enjoying that community feel and being part of that community is stepping up to serve. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to run for Town Council. I feel that my fresh perspective is needed on council.”
He said the need for a fresh face was made even more evident by the events that transpired this week, with three council members accusing the other four of a hidden agenda in moving to terminate the town attorney.
“I don’t think you have to be friends, but can disagree without being disagreeable,” Cummings said.
At the top of his list of priorities if elected is economic development. He points to his background as a Realtor, following a previous career in political fundraising, as being an asset in this area.
“We need elected officials who are able to market and sell Leesburg because we’ve got to balance this burden between property taxes and commercial taxes and ensure the burden isn’t on the individual property owners. We need a balanced approach to fund our town,” he said.
Focusing not only on attracting new businesses to locate in Leesburg, while understanding the challenges of a mostly built-out town, and also ensuring continued success for existing businesses is a good two-pronged approach, he said.
Cummings also points to the need for smart growth and development, as well as ensuring continued viability of the water and sewer utility system, as big priorities. On the former, Cummings acknowledges that many will look at his career choice and assume he will be beholden to residential developers.
“A lot of people are going to think I’ll want every residential development to go up. What I can tell you is home values are related to the new development happening around them. A bunch of new houses won’t necessarily raise property values. You have to really balance this development. Ultimately my job as a member of Town Council is to protect the taxpayers of Leesburg, keep property taxes low. That’s why I want to focus my efforts when we talk about development on true revenue-generating development which is commercial versus residential,” he said.
Cummings has not yet set a date for his campaign kick-off, but said it will likely occur sometime after the March 3 presidential primary. For more information on his campaign go to facebook.com/ZachCummingsforLeesburg.
The seats held by council members Ron Campbell, Josh Thiel and Tom Dunn will be on the ballot in November. None has publicly announced whether they intend to run again. Mayor Kelly Burk is also up for re-election and has confirmed she will be on the ballot. The filing deadline to run for one of the four seats is June 9.
Checks payable to "The Committee to Back Zach"
Send donations and correspondence to
PO Box 1515
Leesburg, VA 20177
Paid for by The Committee To Back Zach
Send donations and correspondence to
PO Box 1515
Leesburg, VA 20177
Paid for by The Committee To Back Zach