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September 28, 2020

Kevin Burke will retire as county attorney on Nov. 1

Photo/Don Del Rosso
Kevin J. Burke spent four years in private practice before joining the county attorney’s office in 1991.
Deputy County Attorney Tracy Gallehr, 51, hopes to succeed Mr. Burke.
Kevin’s practical, knowledgeable and is able to find solutions to problems, which is what we as lawyers try to do. I’d put him at the top of my list.
— Warrenton lawyer Hank Day
Kevin John Burke
• Age: 58

• Home: Near Warrenton

• Work: Fauquier County Attorney, 2005 to present; deputy county attorney, 1991 to 2005; lawyer, Hazel & Thomas, 1990-91; Costello, Dickinson, Johnston, Greenlee, Coleman & McLoughlin, Winchester, 1987-90.

• Salary: $166,713.

• Education: Law degree, College of William and Mary, 1987; bachelor’s degree, economics, University of Virginia, 1984; Cave Spring High School, Roanoke, 1980.

• Family: Wife Stephanie; two grown children

• Hobbies: Playing guitar, tinkering with cars
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Fauquier government’s long-time county attorney has a simple retirement plan.

“I’ll probably not do a whole lot,” said Kevin J. Burke, who will leave the job effective Nov. 1, after about 29 years with the county attorney’s office. “Just hobbies and projects around the house. I attempt to play the guitar and work on the cars. Things like that.”

Mr. Burke, 58, oversees three attorneys, two support staffers and a $888,000 annual budget.

His office represents and advises Fauquier’s board of supervisors, planning commission, board of zoning appeals and all other boards, commissions, departments, constitutional officers and employees on legal issues related to county government business.

Mr. Burke, who lives near Warrenton, has thought about calling it quits for about a year.

“My wife retired, and I just like flexibility to be able to travel whenever and have a little bit more leisure time,” said the Virginia native. “Seemed like a good time to do it.”

Mr. Burke, who earns $166,713 per year, joined county government in 1991 as deputy county attorney. In 2005, he succeeded Paul S. McCulla, whom the supervisors at the same time promoted to county administrator.

Both serve “at the pleasure of” the supervisors — the only county employees who do so.

Among other things, Mr. Burke works directly with the supervisors, who meet the second Thursday of the month.

“I have always found the law to be incredibly challenging and difficult,” Mr. Burke said. “And I probably enjoy the contractual issues and doing board meetings and those sorts of things much more than litigation, which I found extremely stressful.”

Memorable projects he helped “to go forward” include land acquisition and construction matters related to Kettle Run High School, the Northern Fauquier Community Park and the Central Fauquier Sports Complex, the county attorney said.

Others involved Fauquier’s first two public access points on the Rappahannock River, including one that opened in April 2019 on a county-owned preserve near Waterloo, about seven miles west of Warrenton.

A second access at Remington on county-owned land could open next spring.

Over the years, Mr. Burke has helped craft dozens of conservation easements, which permanently protect land from development and require board of supervisors’ approval for the county to accept them.

The board in August agreed to take an easement from the Fauquier Springs Country Club west of Warrenton on about 63 acres that will result in extinguishing 72 potential home sites.

“I will miss the accomplishment of the work,” Mr. Burke said of his job. “But I have to say I won’t miss the difficulty of it.”

Warrenton lawyer Hank Day has represented the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority for about 14 years. Prior to that, Mr. Day served as the Town of Warrenton’s attorney for about nine years.

In both roles, he has collaborated with Mr. Burke on a various matters, including the Fauquier Springs Country Club easement and the first conservation easement Fauquier accepted around 14 years ago.

“I think it’s a major accomplishment,” Mr. Day said of Mr. Burke’s tenure with county government. “It’s really hard to be a lawyer for a public body. You really have to have good skill sets as a lawyer and good skill sets as a public advisor. I think Kevin does.”

He added: “Kevin’s practical, knowledgeable and is able to find solutions to problems, which is what we as lawyers try to do. I’d put him at the top of my list.”

As a lawyer, Mr. Burke can do it all, according to the county administrator.

“He’s incredibly intelligent and articulate — a very good attorney and litigator,” Mr. McCulla said. “He has the ability to take a complex issue, analyze it, break it down and provide guidance in a readily understandable manner.”

It could take up to two months to hire a new county attorney, Mr. McCulla said.

A panel including “at least two supervisors,” probably county Human Resources Department Director Janelle Downes and perhaps himself will review job applications and conduct candidate interviews, Mr. McCulla said.

Deputy County Attorney Tracy Gallehr, 51, hopes to succeed Mr. Burke.

“I would like to continue for the rest of my career to work for the county as long as possible to serve my community,” Mrs. Gallehr said of her decision to apply for the county attorney’s job.

The Warrenton resident started in the county attorney’s office in 1995 as a part-time clerk while attending George Mason University’s law school. Mrs. Gallehr got a juris doctor there in 1997.

Two years later, Mr. MCulla hired her as assistant county attorney. Mr. Burke promoted her to deputy in 2005.

Mrs. Gallehr, who earns $132,719 per year, has a master’s degree in public administration (2015) and bachelor’s degree in biology (1991) from George Mason. In 1986, she graduated from Fauquier High School.

Mr. McCulla and Mr. Burke believe she can handle the top job.

“I don’t think there would be anything on my part that would stop me from recommending her as an extremely good candidate for that position,” Mr. McCulla said. “Ultimately, the decision rests solely with the board of supervisors. But, I think the board members know my feelings about Tracy and her ability to potentially do the job.”

Mr. Burke said: “I have the utmost confidence in Tracy.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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RosaMatilda · October 26, 2020 at 10:06 am
As a medical practitioner, I am so happy that I had a dallas health care lawyer on my retainer. This allows the clients to be careful if they would want to sue me without any good reason.
RosaMatilda · October 22, 2020 at 4:17 am
I know that he is taking early retirement so that he is able to work as a partner at Schlacter Law. I am sure that he would be getting paid so much to join the new firm as a partner lawyer.
Becca · September 28, 2020 at 1:48 pm
Many thanks to Mr. Burke for his hard work on behalf of the county! Mrs. Gallehr seems a great choice to take up the mantle.
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