Kelly Burk, a former Loudoun County supervisor for the Leesburg District, will return to the Leesburg Town Council after narrowly defeating opponent Dwight Dopilka in a special election Tuesday.
Burk and Dopilka were competing for the Town Council seat vacated by Supervisor Kenneth D. Reid (R-Leesburg), who in November defeated Burk in the race to represent Leesburg on the county Board of Supervisors.
Dopilka, who is the Board of Supervisors’ liaison to Leesburg Executive Airport and has lived in Leesburg for 10 years, ran as the conservative challenger to Burk, a Democrat. He said his 25 years of experience in business and project management would help him bring a disciplined, fiscally responsible approach to the position.
Dopilka said that he was disappointed to lose the election by a narrow margin but that he was encouraged by the momentum of his race against Burk, a political veteran.
“As a newcomer running for public office for the first time, with little or no name recognition, to come out of nowhere and in three months to pose a close race to an admitted professional politician — I’m very pleased,” he said.
Although he has not declared his candidacy, Dopilka said he plans to run again in the fall election, when there will be three open seats on the Town Council on the ballot.
Burk, a special-education teacher at Blue Ridge Middle School who has lived in Leesburg for 33 years, previously served on the Town Council from 2004 to 2007, when she was elected to the Board of Supervisors. Burk said her first objective is to become re-acclimated to the council.
“It’s been five years since I’ve been there,” she said. “My first priority is just getting on my feet and getting familiar with what’s going on and how it’s done.”
Burk won her seat with 53 percent of the vote, although the turnout was predictably low, with about 2,300 Leesburg voters casting ballots, according to Loudoun County General Registrar Judy Brown.
“It wasn’t very busy at all,” Brown said. “But, for a special election for just one seat, a 9 percent turnout isn’t so bad.”
In a statement last week, Loudoun Democrats hailed Burk’s victory as a signal that the party is regaining traction in Loudoun as the November elections near.
“This election is an early sign that Loudoun residents are not happy with the actions taken so far in 2012 by the new, all-Republican Board of Supervisors,” said the statement by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.
Although fewer than 150 votes separated Burk and Dopilka, Burk still won by 6 percentage points, Democrats emphasized.
“There is a latent Democratic majority in Loudoun County,” Loudoun County Democratic Committee Chairman Evan Macbeth said in the statement, adding that actions taken by the new Board of Supervisors “are recalling Democrats to action.”
Burk will replace Terry Titus, who was appointed in January as an interim council member after Reid was elected to the Board of Supervisors. Burk will serve the remainder of the term, which ends in November 2014.
Burk said she was looking forward to getting back to work for the town.
“The message I would convey to all the residents of Leesburg is that the election is over, and I’m here to represent all of them,” she said. “I’m anxious and eager to hear from people, to find out what the issues are that are really important to them.”