In an interview last week for this article, Roanoke Times Supervisor Coverage – 11/1/2015, the reporter referred to my performance in October 22, 2015’s League of Women Voters Forum as assertive (LWV – Supervisor Candidate Forum 2015). I have received several compliments on my performance at the debate, with people specifically mentioning my strong stance on education (found at 48:38), my extensive background of community service (at around 24:24), and my closing statement (at 1:11:39) as being stand out moments. While I know the reporter was not making any inferences in his choice of adjectives, it did cause me to question myself. Had I mistakenly acted assertive when my intention was to be confident? So, I told the reporter that yes, I was assertive because I am confident in my qualifications and abilities to be a vocal and passionate advocate for District G and all of Montgomery County. And really, is it a bad thing to be assertive in the first place? I think not!
But it does beg the question, why am I so confident that I am the right choice for the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors? It’s a story best told when looking reflectively at the work I have already done in our community. I can point to programs, educational opportunities, community service organizations, and neighborhoods that I have impacted while serving as a volunteer leader within various community based groups and task forces.
I currently sit on the Boards of Directors for both the New River Valley Apartment Council (NRVAC) and the Virginia Apartment Management Association (VAMA). What do these groups do? The NRVAC is a local affiliate chapter of VAMA, we exist to provide educational services, networking opportunities, and lobbying assistance to industry members. VAMA is our parent organization and fulfills many of the same purposes, but on a larger scale. What does that mean in laymans terms? It means that I have had a hand in coordinating education for Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Radford property managers and industry professionals in topics such as mold remediation, bed bugs, emergency first aid, customer service and sales, gang identification, international resident documentation, crisis intervention and safety, legislative updates, and twice annual fair housing training to name only a few of the programs I have directly been involved with coordinating. Why is this important? Because I want to make sure that the people practicing in my industry have the best, most advanced training and broadest knowledge base possible so that we can provide an exceptional level of service to our residents. Certain parts of Montgomery County are overwhelmingly populated by folks in rental housing, I work very hard to make sure that property managers, leasing consultants, and maintenance professionals have the training necessary to properly care for the people that chose to make their home in a rental unit.
I am also the President of Sustainable Blacksburg and one of the two community volunteers responsible for coordinating the Town of Blacksburg’s recycling program for batteries, CFL bulbs, and printer cartridges. Yes, you read that correctly. Myself and one other person are the team that takes care of all of Blacksburg’s battery recycling! I have been involved in a leadership role in this effort since its inception and am extremely proud to note that we have diverted TONS of hazardous materials from our community’s waste stream into recycling facilities where they can be properly handled, recycled, and disposed of. In October 2015 alone, we recycled over 800lbs of batteries! My role with Sustainable Blacksburg also extends to community education events, coordination of the annual Sustainability Week celebrated each year in September in Blacksburg, Green Drinks (a happy hour, networking event), and acting in an advisory capacity on issues that impact our environment as we face them in our community.
One of my most enjoyable and service-based extracurriculars is my membership in the Mount Tabor Ruritan Club. Many know of our club because they attend our summer fish frys or look forward to purchasing our apple butter in the fall, these are our two annual fundraisers and the tools through which we allocate funds to organizations throughout our community. Mount Tabor Ruritan Club supports Valley Interfaith Childcare Center, provides books for the library, allocates resources to organizations like To Our House, Blacksburg Rescue Squad, Relay for Life, Interfaith Food Pantry, Womens Resource Center, and provides college scholarships to area high school students. This is just a small sampling of the good work our club does in our community and I am proud to be a member!
It’s hard to choose a favorite from my list of volunteer roles, but I am quite partial to the work I have been a part of on the Town of Blacksburg’s Housing and Community Development Advisory Board. I joined this board in 2012 and am now acting as the Vice-Chair. Just last Friday, I had the incredible honor to participate in a house dedication on Giles Road in Blacksburg for a family in our community that was in desperate need of help. This article in the Roanoke Times was the first story about the family – Part One of the Noonan’s Story and a follow-up article was posted after the house was completed – Part Two of the Noonan’s Story. Ms. Noonan spoke at the dedication ceremony and expressed her gratitude to the many people in our community that helped out, I cried tears of joy as she spoke and even now get a little misty eyed as I re-tell the story! My work on this board created the funding stream that allocated the resources necessary to bring this project to fruition. We also played a role in bringing Blacksburg’s newest Habitat for Humanity homes (Nellies Cave Road – Habitat Houses), the Grissom Lane affordable, net-zero, senior housing project (Grissom Lane Project), and served in an advisory capacity on the Fieldstone project scheduled to be built on Givens Lane on a portion of the land currently occupied by Blacksburg Estates. Other great grant programs administered by this board include the Community Development Block Grants used for, among other things, façade improvements for Downtown Blacksburg locations like Boudreaux’s, Social House, Cabo Fish Taco, and the new Capone’s location, and the allocation of funding for a neighborhood stabilization program for the Bennett Hill/Progress neighborhood.
So yes, I am assertive and I am confident. I am confident that my long and extensive record of service and results in our community shows my commitment to my neighbors, friends, and fellow residents of Blacksburg and Montgomery County. In 2013, many of you will remember that I ran for a seat on Blacksburg’s Town Council and lost by a small margin. If you had asked me how I felt about my loss in 2013, I would have told you that I was devastated. Reflecting back on it, I can say assertively and with complete confidence that I am much more well prepared to serve as your elected representative on the Board of Supervisors now because of my continued involvement in our community after my loss in 2013. I knew then that I wanted to serve my community in a more influential role, I know now that I am more qualified to serve because I have dedicated my time and energies to the community in the time since. This has diversified my knowledge base and allowed me to develop into a multi-faceted, dynamic leader.
I look forward to serving you with humility, dignity, and in your best interests when elected to be your Supervisor for District G on the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. Please vote tomorrow, November 3, 2015, and make sure your friends, family, and neighbors vote as well!