HILLSBORO, VA (WUSA9) - In Hillsboro, a western town in Loudoun County, voters will elect their mayor and five town council members on Nov. 8, yet no one is on the ballot.
They do it differently in the tiny, historic town.
Anyone who's driven from the D.C. area to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia or the Charles Town Race Track has probably driven through Hillsboro. It's nestled in "The Gap" between Short Hill Mountains.
The busy two-lane thoroughfare of Route 9 cuts right through the town of about 90 residents. The entire 60-acre town of Hillsboro is designated "historic" with homes dating back to the 1700s.
That's why Roger Vance moved here 20 years ago. And now, he's chin-deep in saving "one of Virginia's most history and best preserved towns."
Vance, the former editor of American History Magazine, has been Hillsboro's mayor for the past 10 years and served on the council before that. He's running again, even though he's not on the ballot. Why?
"It's a tradition that started before I got here. It's considered impolite to be campaigning," explained Vance.
The 40-50 registered voters chose their mayor and five council members by writing in their names. Sometimes getting elected is a surprise, which is how Vance wound up the council 15 years ago.
"The mayor called me and said 'Congratulations.’ I wasn't even running," laughed Vance.
Town members had passed his name around and knew he'd be a good leader for the historic town.
Now, as mayor, every election season he gets together with council members to find out who wants to continue serving and who wants a break. Then he sends out an email with the list, which goes to most everybody in the town.
Town councilmember Amy Marasco is running again. She owns the 1770 Quaker-built Fieldstone Farm Bed and Breakfast.
She wants to help solve the traffic problem, now that 16,000 vehicle trips come through the middle of Hillsboro each day. There's hardly a place for visitors to stop, and there are no sidewalks.
"We need traffic calming...we need sidewalks. We use to have sidewalks. We had sidewalks in the 1800s," Marasco said.
Mayor Vance is leading the effort for several major infrastructure projects including a major traffic plan, switching the town's water supply from spring to wells, bringing in broadband, and getting their post office back. He's got it all laid out on a huge blackboard in the Old Stone House, the community meeting space and his office.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to get these things done," Vance said.
What if he gets ousted Nov. 8?
"So be it. That's the way it'll be," Vance said, though that's highly unlikely given the high praise Vance receives from residents.
The Hillsboro mayor has no staff. He is the one who tests the town's water quality every day. He said if the water pressure drops, he has to "run up the side of the mountain to make sure the pumps are still working."
And it's an unpaid job. Same with the council.
Next to traffic, the next big issue for Hillsboro is getting it's post office and zip code back. Without those, the mayor said Hillsboro is losing its own identity. Vance said he's already had meetings with Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Barbara Comstock.