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Past Mayors of Leesburg

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Most of the photographs and historical information below was collected by volunteer Mary Kay Vogric in 1996 as a joint project between the Loudoun Museum and the Town of Leesburg. Prior to 1858, records of Council actions were kept in "Order Books." Only one such Order Book survives and it is located at the Thomas Balch Library. Beginning in 1858, with the Town's "new" charter, regular Council meeting minutes were recorded. All of the Council meeting minutes from 1858 to the present are available for viewing here.

Images, unless cited otherwise, are from the Town of Leesburg, Virginia records, 1813-present, (RG 1), Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA. 

Name Years Served Highlights 
 John Rose 1813 John Rose was elected the town's first mayor. It was during his tenure that the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were supposedly brought to Leesburg for safekeeping during the War of 1812. Rose signed “An Act Providing the Recovery of Certain Fines."
 Sam Edwards 1818-1819

Sam Edwards passed an act for “Better Government of Citizens on the Occasion of Fires" requiring all citizens of Leesburg to own fire buckets. Other ordinances included “Appointment of Assessors,” and “An Act to Prevent Persons from Throwing Wood on the Pavements and Footways of the Town of Leesburg for Other Purposes."

During his second term, the town passed “An Act to Prevent Horses Standing to Wagons or Carts in the Streets for other Purposes."

In 1836, he returned for a third time. This pattern of returning for non-consecutive terms was matched in later years by five other mayors.

 Isaac Harris 1819 Isaac Harris signed “An Act to Prevent Horses from Running at Large within the Corporation of Leesburg" (Harris may have been signing for Mayor Edwards, rather than being the mayor himself.) 
 Charles B. Ball 1820 Charles B. Ball signed one of the town's many “Nuisance” acts, this one concerning loitering.
 J. A. Binns 1821  
Richard Henry Lee
1822-1823 Richard Henry Lee passed a law “to prevent tumultuous assemblings at night in the streets of Leesburg," “A Law Against Firing of Guns and Exploding Powder," and “An Act Concerning Dogs," requiring an annual tax be paid by owners on their pets.

Image citation:
Teckla Cox Photograph Collection (VC 0027), Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA
 John McCormick 1824 John McCormick passed a law requiring a fee be paid to sell beer in what was apparently the town's first liquor license act, as well as a Nuisance” act dealing with litter.
 John McCabe 1825-1827 Dr. John McCabe welcomed General Lafayette and President John Quincy Adams to Leesburg in August of 1825, for a three-day visit. A crowd of about 10,000 Loudoun residents were on hand as Mayor McCabe welcomed the distinguished guests for this great historical (as well as social event).
 Presley Cordell  1833-1835 Presley Cordell took office and amended the Ordinance concerning dog taxes to provide for the actual collection of these taxes.
 William T. Mason  1838  
 T. H. Grant  1842  
John Orr
 1858-1867 John Orr became the first mayor to be elected under the Town of Leesburg’s new charter. Orr presided through the difficult years of the Civil War including the 1861 Battle of Ball’s Bluff, fought in Leesburg. Orr placed great emphasis on public health and looked to further commercial development
 Thomas Morallee  1868-1870 Thomas Morallee was probably never officially elected mayor, although he signed the minutes during this time. Elections had been prohibited, with “authorities in office being held over.”

George Head

1870-1885 George Head saw the establishment of the Loudoun National Bank in 1871, and the amendment of the town charter in 1875. Twice during his term, he fought efforts to move the county seat from Leesburg.
Joseph L. Norris
 1885-1888 Joseph L. Norris was mayor when pressure began to build for the construction of a town hall. Norris himself was a carpenter who owned a planing mill (where T.W. Perry is located today). Norris is credited with building Selma Plantation and many estates within Leesburg, including the restoration of Oatlands and the present courthouse. However, actual completion of Leesburg Town Hall did not occur until July 1888, after Norris decided not to seek another term.
James W. Foster
 1888-1889 James W. Foster saw completion of the new town hall when he first took office. However, Foster had to arrange for additional funds needed for such things as heating and lighting.
Henry Oden Clagett
 1889-1893 Henry Oden Clagett had served as the town’s recorder since 1873. Oddly, during his years as mayor, few recorded meetings were ever held, apparently due to a persistent failure to achieve a quorum of town council members.
Walter Jones Harrison
1893-1895 Walter Jones Harrison's term was relatively quiet, while experiencing the same “no quorum” problem as that of his predecessor. Harrison was in office when the cornerstone was laid for the present county courthouse, and worked for the safety and security of the community while mayor. During his term, Harrison also served as president of the Loudoun National Bank, succeeding his father, Henry T. Harrison.
Benjamin V. White

Benjamin V. White was the son of Civil War hero Colonel E.V. White. Mayor White unfortunately encountered personal financial troubles, and resigned immediately after being elected to his second term. Later, in 1900, he purchased the Leesburg Old Stone Church.

In 1902, he was appointed mayor to fill the term of Joseph White, whose illness prevented him from performing the duties of the mayor.

Hugh Turner Ashby Thompson
1896-1897 Hugh Turner Ashby completed the term of Benjamin White.
 George Oscar Ferguson 1897-1899 During his single term, George Oscar Ferguson authorized a committee to investigate the construction of closed sewers.
 S. Carroll Chancellor 1899-1900

S. Carroll Chancellor authorized the Loudoun & Snickersville Telephone Company to extend its lines into Leesburg. During this period, sewer construction remained a concern for Chancellor, as did the Town’s growth.

During his second term, he worked mainly on a bond issue to finance a new water system. Electric street lighting and telephone service were also introduced into Leesburg during this time.

 Joseph W. Wright 1900-1902 Joseph W. Wright suffered from recurring illness through his short tenure, during a period when a major concern for the Town of Leesburg was sufficient sources of revenue.
John W. Bitzer 1905-1907 John W. Bitzer, affiliated with the Leesburg Electric Company, was suspected of a conflict of interest during this important time of technological advances.
William E. Garrett
1907-1909 William E. Garrett took quick and aggressive action regarding the town’s finances. An auditor was appointed for the first time to maintain accounts receivable. On May 28, 1908, the “Monument to the Confederate Soldiers of Loudoun County, Virginia” was unveiled before the courthouse on King Street.
John H. Alexander
1909-1910 John H. Alexander experienced the negative impact of telephone service during his term. The early 1900s saw approval of nearly any company seeking a telephone franchise. By 1910, nine unsuccessful companies had left Leesburg with uncollected taxes. Also in 1910, Leesburg enacted state regulations for automobiles. Alexander later became Commonwealth’s Attorney in 1927, then served as a Judge of the Circuit Court from 1929 until his retirement on December 31, 1952.
 Edwin T. Adams 1910-1913  Edwin Adams held a two-year term, with another water bond issue on the ballot. The expansion of the water system was Leesburg’s key issue.
Charles F. Harrison 
Charles F. Harrison, a highly regarded lawyer and former Justice of the Peace, was elected for the first of two non-consecutive terms in 1913. Harrison grew up on Wirt Street in a brick building known as the Thomas Knox House, built in the 1780s, which stands today (7 Wirt St NW). During his first term, the town charter was amended. Still pressed for revenue, the Town approved borrowing money to meet expenses. Horses and automobiles began to compete in traffic situations.

Harrison was elected mayor for the second time in 1923 and continued with his earlier agenda, including license fees. A new school was built in Leesburg, and the fire department expanded. However, severe water shortages which would continue to plague Leesburg through the 1960s were brought to the forefront by local media coverage. Under Harrison, a formal Town budget was established in 1927. Harrison’s political career was furthered by his election to the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Charles R. Lowenbach
 1917-1921 Charles R. Lowenbach was mayor when, in 1917, the cornerstone of Loudoun Hospital was laid. He was authorized to hire the town’s first attorney and looked at ways of funding the building of streets. During the early 1900s, mayors’ responsibilities included serving as Magistrate, Judge of the Town Court, and Chief of Police.
Charles P. Janney

Charles P. Janney encountered the same difficulty in maintaining stable revenue sources as his predecessors, and suggested the licensing of automobiles. The need for parking was recognized during this time as well. Janney served as a member of the Thomas Balch Library Board of Directors, and on May 13, 1922, the library was presented to the citizens of Leesburg. Shortly thereafter, in July, the “Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Tablet” was unveiled in front of the courthouse.

Image citation:
Pollock and Janney Families Papers, Accession 8409, Albert and Shirley Small Collections Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

E. Neville Bradfield

Neville Bradfield worked extensively for a complete sewer system for Leesburg, accessible to all citizens, as well as meters to control water distribution. The new town charter of 1936 removed many of the function of the town sergeant and transferred them to the auditor/treasurer. Bradfield was later involved in encouraging building restoration in town, serving on the Board of Directors of Colonial Leesburg, Inc.

Bradfield returned as mayor and saw Leesburg through its post-World War II period of adaptation, modernization, and growth. A major interest at the time was a town recreation center.

Lucas D. Phillips

Lucas D. Phillips modernized town government, hiring a CPA to maintain books of the Town’s finances. Language of various ordinances was updated, and in 1938 the Town’s first zoning commission was appointed. The bond issue for a complete sewer system was finally approved by voters in 1938. Metered water and real estate taxes were now chief sources of revenue.

Image citation:
Wilbur C. Hall Papers (M 005), Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA

Maurice Lowenbach, Jr.

Maurice Lowenbach arranged for brick sidewalks to be built, as he pursued “colonizing” Leesburg. The installation of parking meters was accomplished, and subdivision ordinance adopted. Lowenbach verbalized the need for postal service, and sought to expand the town limits. It was also during this time that Loudoun resident and actor Arthur Godfrey donated land to build the new Leesburg Airport.

In 1954, Lowenbach was appointed to complete the term of William Nickels upon the latter’s resignation. However, Lowenbach moved out of town during the end of this term.

Edward S. Dailey
1951-1953  Edward S. Dailey attended to possibly contaminated wells, and took the first steps toward establishing a landfill to replace the Town’s garbage dump. Dailey believed in high visibility of the Town’s police officers. It was also during Dailey’s term that plans to by-pass Leesburg was first revealed by the Virginia Highway Commission, a project finally completed 30 years later.
William W Nickels Jr
William W. Nickels, Jr.

William Nickels dealt with a severe drought and the resulting water shortage faced by the Town. During his tenure, the Council approved issuing bonds to construct a water storage reservoir. Also during his term, the Town purchased the land on which the current Town Hall stands, although it was originally a parking lot. Mayor Nickels and the rest of the Council were at odds over who had control of the hiring of police officers and their salaries. As mayor, Nickels served as the Town's Chief of Police and felt hiring decisions should not be made by the legislative body. He eventually resigned over the issue.

Image citation:
William W. Nickels, Jr. Photograph (VC 0086), Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA

Emerson James
1955  Emerson James is notable for the length of his term – approximately two weeks, filling out the term of Lowenbach, who was filling out the term of Nickels. James first became a Town Council member in 1947, and served for eight years.
Elijah B. White
1955-1957  Elijah B. White worked to improve Leesburg’s water supply by having a new larger capacity water tower installed to meet the needs of the growing population. Also concerned with the Town’s traffic problems, White proposed one-way traffic on Market and on Loudoun Streets, and established stricter parking regulations. 
George Durfey
1957-1959  George Durfey celebrated Leesburg’s bicentennial in 1958, as well as Memorial Day observance of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1959. The latter celebration was a combined effort of the County of Loudoun and the Oregon State Society. Durfey also served on the Board of Directors of Colonial Leesburg, Inc., a non-profit corporation for the facilitation of building restoration, organized in 1949. 
George Babson
1959-1961  George Babson presided during the particularly volatile era of racial integration. The NAACP included Leesburg on its list of areas throughout the U.S. to which blacks would be bussed, staging sit-ins at lunch counters until they were served. A bi-racial commission of store owners and representatives of Leesburg’s black community agreed that blacks would continue to be served at town lunch counters, as had previously been the case. Appropriate attention was drawn to Leesburg’s lack of “racial problems” and the NAACP backed off. 
Hunter M. Leach
1961  Hunter M. Leach was appointed mayor when George Babson resigned and returned to his seat on the Town Council. Following his service as councilman, Leach was appointed to the Town Planning Commission in 1963, serving for 21 years, and still sees the ideas and incentives of 30 years coming to fruition today.
Frank Raflo
1961-1963  Frank Raflo, as his first order of business, hired a town manager for Leesburg. The town manager was a new position, holding greater authority than its precursor, auditor/treasurer. Like his predecessors, Raflo was faced with water emergencies, solved temporarily by hookup to a private well. Towards the end of his tenure, Leesburg's Old & Historic District was created. Later, Raflo authored two books of Leesburg and Loudoun County history and tales, as well as numerous pamphlets and articles of great historical value to citizens and tourists alike. 
Kenneth B. Rollins 
Kenneth B. Rollins was the youngest man ever elected mayor of Leesburg. Upon taking office, he proposed that the Town of Leesburg solve its persistent water shortages by getting water from the Potomac River. Rollins also recommended that Leesburg build its own wastewater treatment plant. In 1965, initial steps aimed at developing tourism as a major industry for Leesburg resulted in the establishment of the "Committee for Leesburg" in 1967.
G. Dewey Hill
1973-1976  G. Dewey Hill fought the Northern Virginia Planning District Commission for Leesburg's right to not only maintain but also expand its sewage treatment plant. The Commission wanted to discontinue use of the Leesburg plant, whereas the Town fought for its expansion to a regional plant, entitled to federal aid. 
Mary Ann Newman 
1976-1978  Mary Ann Newman was the first woman to serve as mayor of Leesburg. During her tenure, the old Leesburg Inn was razed to make way for the new county office complex in King Street (today, the Loudoun County Law Library), reinforcing Leesburg's position as the center of government for the county. 
Robert Sevila
1982-1992  Robert Sevila saw the population of Leesburg double in ten years, as the town annexed over 7 square miles of additional vacant land. Great emphasis was placed on preserving Leesburg as the historical center of Loudoun while accommodating growth. A major issue involved keeping up with the services required by such a rapidly expanding population. Sevila presided when the present Town Hall was officially occupied in 1990. Of particular interest during his term was the gift to the town of 138 acres of land by Mr. and Mrs. William F. Rust, Jr., in 1986. This land is today's Ida Lee Park.

James Clem

1992-2000 James Clem was instrumental in the decision to build the new county government center in Leesburg's historic district, once again maintaining the Town as the county's center of government. During his tenure, the Town celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Leesburg Executive Airport and acquired land for a new public safety center. 

B.J. Webb

2000-2002  A number of significant capital projects were completed during B.J. Webb's term as mayor, including the renovation and expansion of the Thomas Balch Library, the Ida Lee Tennis Center, and improvements to South King Street between the W&OD Trail and Catoctin Circle. Following the closure of the hospital in Leesburg, Webb founded a task force to address the shortage of healthcare options. She also organized a Candlelight Vigil to honor those lost in the September 11, 2001, attacks, attended by over 5,000 on the Loudoun County Courthouse lawn. 

Kristen Umstattd

2002-2015  During Kristen Umstattd's fourteen years as Mayor, the Town saw rapid growth in population, from 30,000 to 50,000. The Town made major investments in infrastructure during this time, including expansions of both the water treatment plant and water pollution control facility. The Town worked with the state and the county on transportation issues. Major segments of Battlefield Parkway were completed and the Sycolin Road flyover was built, eliminating a dangerous intersection with the Route 7/15 Bypass. The Acoustic on the Green summer concert series was launched during Umstattd's term as Mayor, and events like the Memorial Day Ceremony and the 9/11 Observance gained renewed interest. It was also during this time that Town elections were moved from May to November.
 David Butler
David Butler
2016  David Butler was appointed mayor in February 2016 to fill the remainder of Kristen Umstattd's term following her election to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. During his one-year term in office, major streetscape improvements to the Historic Downtown were completed and the Town received significant funding for interchanges on Route 7 and the Route 15 Bypass from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.