When Wilson Kirby moved to Berryville in June of 2000, running for mayor was not on his list of things to do. However, eleven years later he has served six years as a town councilman followed by three and a half years as mayor, and that may be just the beginning. Mayor Kirby has officially announced his plans to seek a second term.
Wilson Kirby’s life as an elected official began just 18 months after moving to Berryville from Loudoun County. Kirby said, “In December of 2001 a neighbor, Ted Bishop, suggested I run for Town Council against the incumbent Warren Delandro, who had held the office for ten years.” At the time, Berryville did not have a reputation for embracing newcomers as elected officials. “There were people that would say, ‘How long have you lived in town sir?’ and I would tell them two years and they would say, ‘I don’t see how you can get elected if you’re just a newcomer.” Despite the odds, Wilson won the election garnering 64% of the vote that year.
He served his first term and was elected unopposed for his second term as councilman. During that term, former Mayor Rick Sponseller decided not to run for reelection so Wilson threw his hat in the ring for the mayor’s seat in 2008. He ran against political newcomer Alicia Adams and won by a wide margin.
As the current mayor reflected back on his years of service to the town he said, “Being mayor of this town is one of the easiest jobs I have ever had in my life.” A devout Christian, Mayor Kirby said he feels like God had everything to do with him becoming a successful mayor. Citing his 45 years of experience in engineering and consulting, the mayor said he felt like much of his life had been training to be a mayor because so many of the things needed in a town are engineering oriented. During his tenure he has seen the construction of the new high school within the town, the new municipal water treatment plant and various other projects that his engineering knowledge and experience has helped guide his decisions for the town.
“I don’t say that I’m a politician and I don’t look at this job as a political position. I look at it as making wise decisions for the town government.”
And for the most part, the Town Council and the mayor have been on the same page.
“There has only been one issue that the council has been split on while I have been mayor. That issue was when the council needed to replace the council seat I vacated.”
Mayor Kirby and Councilman Mary Daniel voted for Dave Tollet and the remaining three council members voted for Gail Smith resulting in the only split vote during the mayor’s current term.
No other challengers have come forward at this point, but the Mayor said the prospect of competition is a good thing. “In a way, to be opposed is an advantage for our town because that always brings out the opportunity for a candidate to express themselves and challenge one another.” He added, “As far as a challenge, it doesn’t matter to me. I can stand on my record. I spent six years as a councilman and I bring experience to the office having already served one term as mayor. If you look back at the list of things I campaigned on, almost everything I put out there as a challenge we have been able to make happen, pretty much across the board.”
Mayor Kirby summed it up simply saying, “I enjoy this job. Why wouldn’t I run?”