Voters in Loudoun County's seven incorporated towns will choose mayors, council members and other officials next Tuesday.
While most candidates are saying the so-called LaRouche factor probably will not affect their towns' election process, others believe that a better-than-usual voter turnout could result from news reports that nearly 200 supporters of political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. have registered to vote in local elections.
In Hillsboro -- which, with 115 residents, is Virginia's smallest incorporated town -- the effects of the reports have been a bit more dramatic.
Mayor Alexandra Spaith said she and most town council members have now decided to run as write-in candidates, although only one candidate, council member Randy Allen, was officially registered and town recorder Ellen Gripp was the only one running a write-in campaign.
Although much of the slate is often elected with write-in votes in Hillsboro, Spaith and most council members said a few weeks ago that they hoped other residents would "take their turns" in the political arena.
Now, even though Spaith is planning to sell her house and move out of Hillsboro, she agreed to run again because, she said, several new people have moved into town in the past year and "we don't know them. We don't want to take the chance that a LaRouche candidate could become mayor. The simplest thing to do is to run again myself."
Spaith said that if she is elected she will hold the post until she sells her house and moves, after which the council will appoint a successor.
"LaRouche is the only thing anybody in Hillsboro has talked about for two weeks," Spaith said.
Two years ago as few as 13 votes could have elected a town council member. There are five council seats to fill. Among those agreeing to serve again are Ruth Farwell, Evelyn Turbeville and Glen Roberts.
In addition, water commissioner Sandy Muir said he will stay on in that post or serve on a council or both.
Gripp said she will serve as recorder if she is needed, possibly in conjunction with a council membership if she is elected. Tom Horvath, a sculptor who moved to Hillsboro last year, will serve if he is elected with write-in votes, Spaith said.
There is a one-year residency requirement to serve an elective office in Hillsboro, but, Spaith said, Horvath will have lived there one year at the time the new council is seated July 1. All officers are elected to two-year terms.
Spaith said she believes all of Hillsboro's 78 eligible voters will cast ballots.
In Leesburg, Mayor Robert Sevila is running unopposed for reelection. Although Sevila earlier had expressed concern that a behind-the-scenes campaign is being waged to put a LaRouche candidate into office, Sevila now says there may be a larger voter turnout as a result of the public's perception that LaRouche supporters may go to the polls in significant numbers.
There are 5,000 eligible voters in Leesburg, and two years ago more than half of them voted. "If we just get our normal strong showing it would be a good thing," Sevila said.
In Leesburg the mayor is elected every two years, with the seven-member council running for four-year terms in alternate years.
Two incumbents and two newcomers to the political scene are vying for the three council seats that are open this year.
The two incumbents are John W. Tolbert Jr. and Charles J. Williams. New candidates are Alicia Wilson and Jerry S. Pelkey. Most agree that the major issue is growth and its attendant problems.
Said Sevila, "Leesburg is virtually bursting. We have to find a way to accommodate our growth and still hold on to our small town character."
He noted that while people are attracted to Leesburg because of that character, it is the large number of newcomers who threaten it. Leesburg has nearly 11,000 residents, a population that is expected to increase to more than 16,000 by 1995.
Pelkey says he is running because he believes the area in which he lives, which was included in a 1984 annexation agreement with the county, should be represented on the council.
Pelkey lives in Country Club Estates off Rte. 15. He said he sees the town's major needs as improved roads, developed recreational areas and updated zoning ordinances.
Tolbert said his greatest concern is downtown parking, a concern he said most Leesburg business owners share. Although a parking facility was included in the town's five-year capital improvements plan, Tolbert said he believes a private investor should pay for it rather than the voters.
In Middleburg, incumbent mayor Loyal McMillan is running unopposed for another two-year term, but the four seats open on the seven-member council have attracted seven candidates, four of them newcomers.
Most say that although Middleburg has few real issues in this campaign, an ongoing concern is the lack of medium-priced housing. Said incumbent Betty Kirk, "We need young people in this town. But when houses start at $100,000 young people can't afford to live here." The median age of Middleburg residents is 47, she said.
Newcomer Jacqueline Watson said she agrees about that need but, "everybody talks about it, nobody does anything." The council should encourage builders and developers to bring in plans for housing that starts at $70,000, she said.
The other candidates are incumbents Trowbridge Littleton and Charles R. Turner, and Otis T. Amory, Pamela Hovey and Eura Lewis.
Purcellville Mayor Ron Masters is the only local mayor facing opposition. Masters says he is running for his third two-year term on his record, which includes helping the town get a $700,000 state grant to build a new water treatment plant, guiding the comprehensive plan that he said calls for balanced growth and affordable housing, and lobbying effectively for a Rte. 7 bypass around the town.
Opposing candidate Eric V. Zimmerman said the comprehensive plan was not written with foresight. "It concerns me that the mayor says it's adequate," he said. "My own property on Main Street is zoned so that I could put up apartment buildings if I wanted. We have to look ahead better than that."
Candidates for the three open seats on the six-member town council are incumbents Walter E. Kemp Jr., Wade H. Palmer and Basham Simms, and newcomers Chrissie Beck, William S. Blanks, John D. Marsh and Mary Alice Wertz. Another candidate, Nan Forbes, dropped out of the race several weeks ago citing professional pressures; she is a local attorney. Council candidates run for four-year staggered terms.
The town of Lovettsville began its campaign without a mayoral candidate, but last month former Mayor Ken Harrington consented to serve if he is elected on a write-in campaign.
Incumbent Mayor J.R. Hummer decided not to run for reelection after a trying two-year battle over the town's zoning map and comprehensive plan, during which residents opposed rezoning requests that would have allowed commercial development on land currently zoned residential.
Hummer and his wife, Grace, a town council member, were among those making such a request, which they later withdrew.
Noting that development is still a major concern in Lovettsville, Harrington said he will carry out the will of the people if he is elected. "We need to pull together in this town now," he said.
Only one incumbent, William Brown, is running for one of the three seats open on the six-member council. Newcomers vying for the four-year posts are Mary Jean Hartman, Mercel D. Scaggs and Susan-Jane Stack, an outspoken opponent of last year's requested zoning changes. Stack said she would like to be elected to help ensure that any future development is carefully handled.
Hamilton's Mayor Harold Lowry is running unopposed for his second four-year term. The three candidates for the three openings on a six-member council are Mary C. Diggs and Ruth Tillett, both incumbents, and Kenneth Andrzejewski. Andrzejewski said he is running because, as a resident of three years, he wants to fulfill a duty to Hamilton. "There are no real issues here," he said.
Much the same is true in Round Hill, where Mayor Jeffrey Walford is unopposed in his bid for a fourth two-year term, as are the three incumbents on the six-member town council.
"I'd like to believe there is no opposition because voters think we are doing a good job," Walford said.
The council candidates are Vice Mayor Ben Fordney, Kimball Peele and Donald Smith. In addition, incumbent recorder H. Rogers Thomas is running unopposed.