Get to know your 2022 Lynchburg City Council candidates
On September 19, the Alliance will hold a Candidate Townhall to see where each candidate stands on issues related to business.
My name is Patrick Earl. I’ve proudly lived in Lynchburg for nearly a decade, serving as a teacher at Randolph College. And now, I want to continue helping our community by serving you on City Council. But first, here’s a little bit about me:
I am from Michigan and grew up in a lower middle-class home as the son of two school teachers. From the moment I was born, my parents instilled in my two brothers and me the importance of a quality education and the value of kindness; not just being nice, but lending a hand to help those in need, empathizing with the folks that are different, and understanding that being kind to one another is an essential part of a happy life.
Growing up, I became a star athlete in track and cross country. Running allowed me to further my education through a scholarship to Aquinas College where I went on to be a 5-Time Academic All-American, a nationally ranked Steeple-chaser, and, most importantly, a Magna Cum Laude student in Biology. As a student athlete, I learned the importance of hard work, discipline, and dedication.
When I left home, I took those values with me. I earned my Master’s of Fine Arts in Acting and spent the next decade pursuing a career in performance. During this time I met my loving wife of 12 years, Stephanie Holladay Earl, moved to Central VA to work with the American Shakespeare Center, and eventually found our way to Lynchburg where we teach at Randolph College, and recently appointed Executive and Artistic Directors of Endstation Theatre Company.
We love Lynchburg, that’s why we stayed. There’s no better place for Stephanie and I to raise our two children Arden (6) and Lona (1.5). With our work with HumanKind, we have helped raise other children in our community as Therapeutic Foster Parents. I love the Lynchburg hills, the trails, the river. I continue to be an avid runner, hiker, and help with my son’s Cub Scout Troop. Most of all, I love the people. Stephanie and I have never felt more welcomed into a community. And, that’s how I want every family to feel like in the Hill City. That's why I am running for City Council.
1. My first priority relates to how to better deliver all City Services: Schools, Safety, Human Resources, Works, Parks and Recreation and so forth. I believe the quality of that delivery is a testament to the priorities of any community. Across the board, from our 1stResponders to public works and human services, we are understaffed. But, we are on the right track. Police and fire personnel have been given 5% raises to improve recruitment and retention. Other city employees have also been given raises. We break ground on a new police headquarters as early as this fall! But, we need to make sure that critical yet empty positions are filled. We have hard working employees who keep our city safe, clean, and a desirable place to live. They deserve the assurance that their and their family’s needs will be met, and they have the sufficient personnel so as to not be continually stretched too thin.
The Lynchburg Public School Division faces some big decisions relating to the recent release of its facilities report. Many schools are in desperate need of repair while, sadly, others may need to be shuttered. Options include renovating some facilities and constructing entirely new schools. Regardless of LCS’s decisions, revising student attendance is very likely necessary, . . . and that is inherently controversial. There won’t be an easy way around these challenges. The solutions will need to be coordinated between City Administration and the LCS School Board because the City owns all school buildings. Collaboration will be essential as City Council seeks to make clear and well informed decisions in conjunction with LCS’s leadership. City Council will need to work with the Lynchburg City School leadership in a candid and transparent manner so as to place the needs of ALL of Lynchburg City School children first. I believe City Council’s decisions must benefit EVERY Lynchburg child. If we lay the groundwork by working together, Lynchburg City Council, the Lynchburg City School Board, along with a multitude of their talented and dedicated staff members, will put LCS on the right path for decades to come. Renovations, Opportunity, New Schools! It is scary, but exciting. I want to be part of that.
2. The Economy has taken a hit during the pandemic and, with inflation as high as it is, people are rightly concerned about the future. I believe we need to prioritize methods to aid our citizens and assist both new and thriving businesses. We need to continue streamlining our business licensing process, as well as give tax incentives to developers who want to help rejuvenate our city. Many vacant homes need to be restored, and empty commercial buildings have potential but need remediation. We need to address the shortage of affordable housing, especially single-family homes. Rehabilitation of business and residential possibilities will make Lynchburg a more appealing place to live and work.
As far as giving immediate relief to our citizens and businesses, we should discuss the option of lowering our meals tax. This tax has brought in an extra three million dollars in the first eleven months of last fiscal year. In lowering this tax, we put money directly back into the pockets of hard working citizens grabbing a bite for lunch, or in between multiple jobs. This may also help working single parents whose schedule forces them to rely on quick take-out meals. It also assists city eateries by counteracting the prices artificially increased due to inflation.
3. I also want to prioritize “putting civility back into civics.” Politics has gotten particularly rough. It seems there is no in between, no middle ground. By simply having the wrong letter next to your name, ears are shut to you. That's why I am running as an independent. I want to bring kindness back to being a public servant. Our city has its challenges. I have already mentioned some. BUT, it will be okay. It is okay. We have the capacity, the opportunity, to deal with these issues. Solving these problems just takes time and clear heads. Stoking fear and political theatre on a local level won’t help. What helps is the courage to listen to others you don’t agree with. What helps is the generosity to put the needs of our community first. What helps is kindness. Each issue should be addressed by its individual merit and impact on the city as a whole, not party line. As an educator I learned that being a good teacher is all about caring and listening. That is how I intend to serve on City Council.
So, VOTE EARLY AND VOTE EARL!
Marty is a Christian, husband, father of four boys and has dedicated his life to serving the greatest nation in the world and his community. Marty was nominated as one of three Republicans for Lynchburg City Council in May out of a field of seven candidates.
He is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard Reserve, where he achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer, with over 20 years of service. His first mobilization occurred after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, for the homeland defense and civil support missions to secure our nation during Operation Noble Eagle. In 2005, he would be deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom in the U.S. Southern Command Theater of Operations, then again in 2010 to U.S. Central Command for the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn in Kuwait. During his time with the Coast Guard, Marty served in the expeditionary community for 8 years, in a federal law enforcement capacity in the National Capital Region, and as an accomplished instructor for the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center. Marty is a graduate of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, and retired from the Coast Guard Reserve on July 1, 2022, after serving for 22 years.
Marty started out his professional career in construction and development and was a small business owner. After a return from a deployment in 2006, Marty chose to pursue a different career path that was more compatible with his passion for public service from the Coast Guard. He pursued his Emergency Medical Technician certification in Farmville while serving on short-term active-duty orders in Portsmouth, VA and applied to work at the Lynchburg Fire Department. In 2007, he began his initial training with the fire department and dedicated his professional civilian life to serving the City of Lynchburg. During his 14-year career with the Lynchburg Fire Department (LFD), he became a Nationally Registered Paramedic, and achieved the rank of Fire Captain.
During his time with LFD, Marty continued his passion of teaching, coaching and mentoring others that he first developed during his Coast Guard Service. He became an instructor of various disciplines in the fire service and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). He served in various collateral duty assignments to improve service delivery for the community he swore an oath to protect, and to enhance the working conditions for his fellow firefighters and promote best practices for responder safety. In addition to his regular operational duties with the Fire Department, Marty served in the following capacities:
• Strategic Planning Committee
• Health and Safety Committee
• Accreditation Workgroup
• Hostile Event Response Workgroup
• Data-Analysis Team
Marty’s background in military operations, homeland security, law enforcement, emergency medical services, firefighting and incident command led to his selection as an adjunct instructor for the Texas State University Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program. ALERRT is a Department of Justice funded training program for public safety agencies that is the only national standard response curriculum for Active Shooter Events recognized by the FBI. His passion for saving lives led to this endeavor, as he wanted to ensure the City of Lynchburg was preparing our first responders with the best research-based training in the nation to save lives if a hostile active attack incident was to strike our city. He also went back to school as an adult to complete his undergraduate degree in business and health sciences at Liberty University and is currently pursuing his Master of Business Administration, which he anticipates will be completed next year.
After over 14 years of selfless service to the City of Lynchburg, Marty transitioned last year into a leadership role in the private sector with one Virginia’s premier EMS teams. This transition allows him to leverage his combined experience in healthcare, public safety, leadership, and management in the corporate environment. He has also volunteered his time for various veteran organizations such as Honor Flight and Homes for our Troops and with local organizations trying to improve our public safety system in the City of Lynchburg.
Marty is prepared to bring his intimate knowledge of what he has seen work in the Lynchburg City Government, and what needs to be improved, combined with his business and leadership acumen to prioritize the people of our city over the bureaucracy. There is no other candidate on the ballot that has defended our nation, saved lives in our community, and fought the pandemic on the front lines in the streets of our city. His professional career has epitomized the principle of putting service over self, and he’s ready to continue that on City Council. It’s time to put Lynchburg citizens at the head of the table in their local government, and his number one priority is keeping our citizens safe. He also understands that the current economic environment is causing our citizens and local businesses to have to cut back on spending to survive, and he is committed to eliminating waste while preserving core services to balance these needs for all the citizens in our city.
He is also passionate about the education of our youth and is ready to do whatever it takes to hold the school board accountable to honor parents’ rights in education and to listen to teachers while empowering them to deliver world- class education to our city’s youth. Together, Marty and his wife, Melinda, enjoy watching their boys grow up and compete in various youth sports locally and on travel teams. They also regularly attend and are members at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Melinda is a Kindergarten Teacher in Lynchburg City Schools and graduate of Lynchburg College, and a two-time Teacher of the Year for Bedford Hills Elementary. As a public-school parent and teacher’s husband, he’s committed to ensuring our schools focus their efforts on academics over the bloated bureaucracy in the Lynchburg City Schools (LCS) Administration Building that failed many of our youth and families during the COVID- 19 pandemic. Marty believes there is no agenda more honorable and worth fighting for than to give our city’s children every tool possible to succeed – and he’s willing to roll his sleeves up and have the tough conversations required to get our school system on the right track.
1. Citizens aren’t safe in Lynchburg, like they used to be – and Marty remembers years during his public safety career in the City of Lynchburg when our streets were much safer.
The number one responsibility of government is to protect the lives of those within our city limits and safeguard their property. Public safety is the cornerstone to all other priorities of local government. Education and economic development are important, but our citizens must be safe when they are attending schools or participating in the economy. That is no longer the case in our city. Homicides have risen drastically in the last two years (2021 and 2022 year to date) as referenced by VSP Data and LPD Public Information Releases.
• 2019 homicides: 2
• 2020 homicides: 3
• 2021 homicides: 9
• 2022 homicides (YTD): 6
When it comes to senseless violence, we are headed in the wrong direction. We have also experienced shootings in broad daylight between vehicles in some our busiest streets, like Old Forest Road and Lakeside Drive. It’s time to restore safety and civility to every neighborhood in our city.
Preventing unnecessary violence and death is my number one priority on City Council. First, we must find the root cause of the increase in crime and ensure that our city doesn’t create any barriers for citizens to safeguard their own lives and the lives of their families. This will also require a stem-to-stern review of our entire public safety system in Lynchburg. While historic investments were made in public safety compensation in the last year, it came too late - after a recruiting and retention crisis compromised staffing levels in our police, fire, and emergency services departments.
We lost many well-trained, highly capable, and experienced public safety officers and telecommunications specialists during the last 4 years, creating an experience gap and removing mentors from the ranks. Last year, City Hall also failed to recommend a reasonable budget request from the Commonwealth’s Attorney office for an additional prosecutor to ensure our city was able to keep violent offenders where they belong - behind bars.
We must ensure that our public safety officers know without question that City Hall and City Council has their back. Proper staffing levels will also give us the flexibility to maximize community policing efforts and ensure our public safety professionals have the resources needed to remain engaged with the community. It is vitally important for our city residents and stakeholders to engage in positive relationship building with our public servants have a duty to keep them safe.
Finally, building stronger schools is a component of the long-term strategy to reduce crime in our city. If we provide our city’s youth with the tools to succeed academically and graduate, where they can enter the workforce with skills from vocational training programs or attend the college of their choice, it will promote opportunity and responsibility for generations to come in Lynchburg. This kind of opportunity will give future generations in our city the tools they need to achieve prosperity by preparing them to be the future talent pipeline for robust economic development in our city under new leadership. A conservative vision for our city will involve actively recruiting new business and industry while providing a pro-growth environment for our many important businesses and industry that already call Lynchburg home – but we need to provide a safe city for this growth to occur.
2. We need Stronger Schools in Lynchburg - and we need to hold the school board accountable for how they spend your tax dollars and the results they produce for the youth in our city. Lynchburg City Schools adopted a rule for public comment at School Board meetings that puts parents at the end of the line after students and staff if time remains. This sends the absolute wrong message to our city school parents, who are the primary stakeholder in the upbringing and education of their children. We must restore parental rights in education and honor the role of parents in the upbringing of their children as a city - and through the public school system.
Academic performance in our public schools is subpar at best. Mid-year assessments reveal alarming results in our public school system:
• 43% of students in the school division are below level for reading
• 44% of high school seniors are below level for reading.
• High School juniors and seniors fell below the target for average level gain in Math.
• English and language arts assessments for high school juniors and seniors were far below the target for average gain, and 39% of those in all grades in middle school are considered “far below” target.
Over the last decade, the City Council majority has appropriated funds for the school board year after year with no accountability.
• Standardized test scores are down almost 40% in 10 years
• Enrollment is down 12%
• The number of teachers and administrators has increased by 38%
• Funds for instruction haven’t kept up with inflation
• Funds for the administrative bureaucracy have surged 244% - nearly 10 times the rate of inflation
• 103 high school students did not graduate on time last year
After 8 years of democrat reign in Richmond and City Hall, teachers in Lynchburg were left unappreciated while an unknown number of high paying administrative positions were created - for 1,000 less students - while an experienced teachers pay rose an embarrassing 2.7%. Schools were closed for a year, and they forced our children to wear masks against the wishes of many parents – which has been proven to negatively affect learning outcomes.
It wasn’t until we elected Glenn Youngkin in Richmond that parents’ rights were forced to be honored by the school boards, and teachers and classrooms were prioritized over bureaucrats. The Governor ordered a 5% wage increase in his budget for Virginia’s teachers – outperforming the LCS investment in teachers across many years.
We just learned in the last school board meeting that some class offerings may have to be eliminated due to a staffing shortage in our public schools, after many teachers we should have retained left this summer.
Lynchburg City Council appoints the school board and is the governing body which can hold the School Board accountable for the citizens of our city. First, we need to quickly get to the bottom of why our schools have been failing our youth and how money is being allocated in the system. We need to prioritize academics and the people that impact the lives of our children in education over a bloated bureaucracy - and Lynchburg should pursue alternative options like a Charter School with the Governor’s renewed commitment to education in the Commonwealth.
Ultimately, we should work with our local delegation to Richmond and have school choice pursued for parents in our city. Every child deserves a world class education, and they should not be geographically constrained to underperforming schools based on what neighborhood they grow up in.
3. Taxes in Lynchburg are too high. Citizens are suffering in our city because of reckless economic policy from Democrats in Washington. They are struggling to afford gas for their cars, and they are having to cut back in many areas as the prices of groceries and general goods have soared with record inflation. Workers and families across our city are having to make tough decisions and cut back in places they never thought they would have to, because Democrat leadership in Washington has waged war on the finances of working-class Americans.
In Lynchburg, we have one of the highest meals tax rates in the country. This tax rate not only hurts families because they may not be able to afford to eat out with record inflation, but it also hurts service industry workers who rely on gratuity for income. We must do everything we can to restrain fiscal policy from having negative impacts on the workers and families in our city.
Last year (fiscal year 2022), citizens from all stages of life pleaded with Lynchburg City Council to not raise property taxes through increased real estate assessment values - but they did it anyways. At the end of the same budget year, the city recorded a historic $49.7 million surplus, which was projected to be $22.1 million. The projection was off by over $27 million that came from taxpayers - equivalent to almost $1,000 per household in our city.
Budget surpluses are nothing out of the ordinary in Lynchburg. It’s also become normal for the city’s budget surplus to exceed what they projected at the beginning of the budget year. If the city is continually bringing in substantially more tax revenue than they project, City Council should be looking for ways to provide permanent and lasting relief to the citizens of our city who are struggling to make ends meet in the current economic climate, instead of spending it all in the next budget year. The current City Council majority has never voted to approve lasting and permanent relief to our citizens - and now times are very tight for Lynchburg workers, families, and businesses small and large. When our citizens are being forced to use their savings to get by, it’s not the time for the city to take more of their tax dollars to increase the savings balance for City Hall.
Restrained fiscal policy will give our citizens a tool to weather the recession we are currently facing, and the tax-and- spend philosophy of Democrats can no longer be business as usual in City Hall. The perpetual cycle of outrageous budget surpluses from taxing our citizens too much makes it clear that with a smarter approach to spending, we can successfully eliminate waste, preserve core services, and provide a positive impact for the financial well-being of local workers, families, and businesses to weather the storm of the national economic downturn we are facing.
Stephanie Reed is proud to call Lynchburg, Virginia her home. Her deep love and passion for her community has motivated her to run for City Council and serve the people of Lynchburg.
Stephanie has spent the majority of her career in business, broadcast journalism, and ministry. She grew up in Virginia and earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Arkansas. In 2001, Stephanie married her husband Dale, who was actively serving as a Colonel in the United States Air Force. She spent 18 years as an Air Force spouse and raised her family all over the world. Stephanie is a dedicated mother of four incredible children. Their family journey has been and continues to be guided by their faith.
The exposure to different parts of the world has strengthened her deep love for her country. After her husband's retirement from the Air Force, Stephanie felt a calling back to Virginia and has since made Lynchburg her family's home.
Throughout her career, Stephanie has been a substitute teacher, women's ministry public speaker, and owner of a furniture restoration business while she lived in Germany. She currently operates a real estate investment company in Lynchburg.
Stephanie has been actively involved in the Lynchburg community. She currently serves on the leadership team for the women’s ministry program at Thomas Road Baptist Church. She also serves as the Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and hosting local college students who don’t have family close by.
1. PUBLIC SAFETY
The news in Lynchburg is all too familiar these days. Countless shootings and violent crimes in the City of Lynchburg have left many feeling uneasy. You should be able to walk down the street or wait for public transit day or night without fear.
Over the last 4 years, Lynchburg has seen a 15% increase in violent crime while our public safety offices are understaffed and underfunded. Depleted staffing levels have caused rolling closures of the Ward 4 fire station, calls abandoned at the 911 call center, and police officers unable to perform their regular duties. Stephanie knows that it is imperative that City Council works with our law enforcement agencies and local leaders to develop a recruitment and retention plan that offers competitive wages, while also addressing pay compression issues, so we can fill these positions as soon as possible and get our public safety the help they need.
As a mom of four, Stephanie has a clear understanding of the problems facing Lynchburg's education system. After two long years of learning loss during COVID shutdowns, continued drops in enrollment, failing test scores, and decreasing graduation rates, Stephanie knows that it is going to take a lot of hard work to get our schools back on track. She believes that diligent spending, investing in key areas such as CTE programs, and opening opportunities to all students in Lynchburg are the keys to educational success.
Every child deserves a solid education regardless of where they live in the city. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, Stephanie wants to ensure that every child is reaching their maximum potential, whether that be in public school, private school, or homeschool. Parents know what is best for their children, and Stephanie believes that we need to put power back in the hands of parents when it comes to making decisions about the education of their children.
As a business owner herself, Stephanie knows the burden that has been placed on small businesses in our city. She will be an advocate for our business community to ensure they have the resources they need to thrive. With rising inflation, soaring prices at the pump, and higher grocery bills, citizens in Lynchburg are taxed enough as it is. Despite having a budget surplus this year, City Council decided to spend every last cent collected rather than provide tax relief for hard-working Lynchburg families. Stephanie opposes any new increases in sewage, water, and real estate taxes, and will work to roll back many of the recent increases in these tax burdens. Stephanie is going to work to cut burdensome taxes and regulations that are hurting families and small businesses across Lynchburg.
Stephanie wants to make Lynchburg the best place to live, work, and start a business. She knows that in order to do so, we need to develop a business-friendly environment by cutting red tape, retaining a strong workforce, and promoting a high quality of life.
In the 30 years Larry Taylor has lived in Lynchburg, he has raised a family, built a successful business, and has been a youth mentor at his local church.
Larry is running because the people of Lynchburg are tired of being ignored. Our schools are failing and we're over-taxed. The local economy is stagnant and our streets are more violent than ever before. We need a change!
Humbly, Larry is offering himself as an alternative to the current political majority that has poorly governed Lynchburg for a generation. As a Republican member of Council, he will always fight for lower taxes, our first responders, and educational opportunities for young people.
Larry Taylor will always remember those taxes come from your wallet and should be kept there as much as possible. When the choice comes to keeping or returning more of your hard-earned dollars or taking it, Larry is committed to your bottom line.
Larry will be an advocate for:
- Fiscal Responsibility
- Your Bottom Line
- Accountability of Tax Dollars
We are seeing the most violence on our streets in the history of Lynchburg. Our Fire Department is severely understaffed, and 9-1-1 calls are sometimes reported as "dropped" again due to inadequate issues.
Larry will be an advocate for:
- Supporting our first responders with competitive pay and staffing ratios.
- Empowering law enforcement officers to successfully protect the city.
- Prioritizing the safety of residents.
Lynchburg City Schools can and must be better. Lately, and if able, many are choosing alternatives like home or private schooling. But many students/families have no opportunity for educating their children and are left with an inferior product.
Larry will be an advocate for:
- Appointing leaders to the School Board who prioritize student success and parental insight.
- Unwavering dedication to excellence.
- Investing in front-line educators.
Fire up the local economy
Lynchburg was ranked as the slowest growing economy in Virginia (ODU report warns Virginia is ‘pulling apart’). We need to give a spark to our stagnant local economy and your bank account, incentivizing growth for the entire city.
Larry will be an advocate for:
- Workforce development/vocational training
- Easing business taxes in the city.
- Directing City Hall to focus heavily on business development and expansion.
Dr. Treney Tweedy
Dr. Treney Tweedy is a native Lynchburg resident. She grew up in Rivermont area and is a graduate of E. C. Glass High School. Following graduation, she joined the United States Navy, where she served as a journalist. After returning home, Treney attended and graduated from what was then Lynchburg College (University of Lynchburg). She earned a bachelor’s degree in English.
Treney is a life-long learner and has most recently earned her Master of Business Administration from University of Lynchburg and a Doctor of Healthcare Administration from Virginia University of Lynchburg.
She has three adult children and is a grandmother.
Treney served six years on the Lynchburg City School Board as a District 3 representative and served two of those years as the Vice Chairman of the Lynchburg City School Board. Treney’s career experience includes working for both public and private businesses, as well as higher education in the Lynchburg community.
Most recently, Treney served as the President/CEO of Lynchburg Community Action Group, Inc. A local community action agency that supports low-income individuals and families on their journey toward self-sufficiency through education, employment, and housing services. Since 2018, Treney has also managed Treney Tweedy Consulting Services, LLC, specializing in communications management and public relations consulting. She has a strong Baptist faith and believes that helping others is a lifetime priority. She enjoys home and event decorating, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends. Treney has coordinated weddings and special events for over 25 years and is licensed to celebrate Rites of Marriage in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Treney serves on the boards of the Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority, Step with Links, the Hill City Youth Football & Cheerleading Association and is a member of the Lynchburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Treney received a Gubernatorial appointment by former Governor Terrence McAuliffe and a re-appointment by former Governor Ralph Northam to serve on the New College Institute Board in Martinsville, VA.
Having served eight years on Lynchburg City Council, Treney believes in setting measurable goals and working as a team to achieve them. As a former school board member, she knows that every child in Lynchburg deserves access to a quality education and as a member of Lynchburg City Council, and former Mayor, she has the experience and leadership to ensure Lynchburg thrives.
As a proven city leader who fights for ALL citizens, Treney is committed to continuing her work in this community to move the city forward. She believes every citizen deserves quality city services, open, honest, and transparent city government, strong and safe neighborhoods, and a business-friendly environment where homegrown talent can build and thrive.
1. Quality Education
I believe access to a quality education is critical to the well-being and future success of every individual and plays a significant role in the positive growth of a community. Lynchburg is fortunate to have several educational options including public, private, and in-home instruction. I was fortunate to be a graduate of Lynchburg City Schools and to receive post-secondary degrees from the University of Lynchburg and the Virginia University of Lynchburg.
During my past eight years on City Council, I have been a firm supporter of Lynchburg City Schools because I believe a strong public education system, open to all students, gives everyone an equal opportunity to become educated and reach their full potential. I have also asked the tough questions and held both the administration and school board accountable.
There is always room for improvements, and I believe we can achieve excellence by working together, parents, administration, school board and the greater community to take the necessary actions to ensure we have the best public school system in the region. This includes making sure our teachers have the resources they need (including appropriate salaries) to teach our students.
Lynchburg also is unique in that it is home to six colleges and universities, including nearby Sweet Briar.
The presence of these institutions of higher learning positions Lynchburg to be able to take advantage of mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations. They also serve as economic anchors as they provide jobs for our residents, workers for our local businesses and millions of dollars to our economy. I recently voted to create a position for our Office of Economic Development to establish a formal liaison position to our colleges and universities to strengthen relationships and build on our current partnerships.
2. Economic Growth
A pro-business environment is key to providing jobs and opportunities for our residents. Although the pandemic provided numerous challenges to our business community, most were able to make the necessary adjustments to continue operating. The city also stepped up to support our businesses. I proudly supported efforts to assist the business community with grants and technical support during those challenging times. Companies and small businesses continue to choose Lynchburg to start their dream businesses or invest in growing their current enterprise, proving our city is still a place where businesses want to be!
Recent Business Investments
- Virginia Metal Treating $5.7 Million
- Cloudfit Software $9.7 Million
- Woodspring Suites $9,350,000
- Flowers Bakery $29 Million in reinvestment
- River Ridge Mall $57 Million
- Bausch + Lomb $35 Million in reinvestment
- Electronic Design and Manufacturing will begin construction on an 11,400-square-foot expansion of its manufacturing facility in 2022
City efforts to support local business include:
- In the summer of 2020, the City of Lynchburg received funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist in the relief and recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic and Lynchburg City Council allocated $4 million of these funds for a business recovery grant program administered by the Economic Development Authority.
- Economic Development & Tourism staff developed a one-time fund that offered financial assistance, ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 based on employment, to businesses and nonprofit organizations whose operations were either closed or restricted by the Commonwealth of Virginia in response to the novel coronavirus.
- In November 2020, the City launched the Restaurant Winterization Program for eligible businesses to receive patio heaters or reimbursement grants for winterization expenses. This program distributed $15,565 in reimbursement grants and seventy-five outdoor heaters to restaurants.
- Collaborated with community partners to provide wraparound services and support. The Small Business Development Center provided business consultation and counseling, and HealthWorks, Centra and Piedmont Community Health Plan provided health and safety consultations and town hall opportunities. $3.2 million distributed; 336 businesses and nonprofits received support; thirty-eight businesses received winterization support; 76% has ten employees or less
3. Public Safety
Throughout my eight years of service on City Council, I have been a staunch supporter of public safety. I believe having qualified, well-trained, and well-paid police officers, firefighters and emergency communications personnel are all important components of a vibrant and safe community. My record proves that I am willing to do what it takes to ensure that every citizen in the Lynchburg community, regardless of what neighborhood they live in, can feel safe and secure.
- Supported a $10,000 increase in the starting salary all sworn police officers, approximately $40,000 per year to $50,000 per year.
- Voted to implement a pay plan that provides a progression system for annual increases in officer salary
- Voted for new equipment including body worn cameras, an upgrade to Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, new safety equipment for vehicles
- Funding for a new police headquarters on Odd Fellows Road. This new location rather than the original Kemper Street will result in an $8 million cost savings.
- Benefits of the new police headquarters include:
- Consolidating four locations into one location
- Provides a modern police facility that includes secured parking for department employees, which significantly enhances safety
- Includes meeting space that allows the department to invite the public in and build stronger relationships with our community
- Provides room for growth of the department for many years to come
- Voted for a 10% salary increase for firefighters
- Voted to provide funding for upgraded protective equipment and fire apparatus
- Support continuing efforts to provide department with necessary equipment and salary
- Supported efforts to increase salaries and prove shift differentials for Emergency Communications staff
Walter Virgil, Jr.
Hi, my name is Walter Virgil, Jr. and I am running for an at-large seat for Lynchburg’s City Council. I am a collaborator, social entrepreneur, community advocate, connector and relationship builder with a genuine passion for serving people.
I’m a native of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and a product of two courageous families of faith. Over 68 years ago the late Bishop R.T. and Mattie Virgil decided to escape “Jim Crow,” Mississippi to New Brunswick, New Jersey. They did so in hopes of providing a better life for their young family which would grow to thirteen children with my dad, Walter Virgil Sr. being number four. Over 49 years ago the late Miguel Angel and Ezequiela Santiago moved from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico in hopes of providing a better life for their family. They raised ten children with my mother, Marta Braciale being number seven. Though neither of my Grandparents acquired financial wealth, they both provided much more than money ever could. They exemplified love, faithfulness, character, integrity, benevolence, grit, and the importance of community. In 2008 I moved to Lynchburg with the faith of my Grandparents, “a hope for a fresh start.”
Since being in Lynchburg, I’ve been graced with the opportunity to serve the James Crossing Community, connecting residents to resources, as well as the Lynchburg City jail and Lynchburg juvenile detention centers during my time with Interfaith Outreach association. Through my nonprofit organization, “Get Fresh and Live,” I had time to work with local nonprofits, and our local school system sharing messages of empowerment, focusing on proactive ways of attacking recidivism through addressing truancy. As I continued with, “Get Fresh,” I joined Evolving Solutions Services, a local staffing agency as their Vice President. My tenure at ESS was full of priceless experiences, such as securing the Lynchburg City’s Water department, Waste Management and Public Works and ensuring that our doors never closed during the Pandemic. I’m most proud of the fact that we were responsible for placing over 2,000 people in jobs within a two-year period. I now work at Liberty University fulfilling the mission of training champions for Christ, and I volunteer on Centra’s Community Benefits Committee.
I am married to the love of my Life, Kristal Virgil. Kristal is the proud daughter of Willacy and Diane Knowles. Her father is a retired Air Force Veteran, so Kristal grew up as a military kid. Born in Homestead FL, she grew up in Ipswich, England and finally settled in Clinton MD. Kristal is a classically trained vocalist who received a scholarship in 2003 to sing and study at Liberty University. She received her BA in Broadcast Journalism and is a proud LU alum. Kristal is the youngest of 6 siblings and an amazing Mother to our two children, Dj and Joya. Dj is a compassionate and creative six years old, and Joya is a beautiful, seven-month-old bundle of joy.
Kristal serves as Director of Organizational Development for a D.C. based non-profit organization by the name of Groundswell. Groundswell is a nonprofit organization committed to developing equitable community solar projects, resilience hubs and energy efficiency programs designed to impact low to moderate income households. Kristal and I reflect about it often, Lynchburg is the place where we grew up and discovered who we are.
Over the past fourteen years I have built relationships that foster trust throughout the city, and I’ve honed my skills to be uniquely postured for what I believe the city needs, unification and productivity. From organizing with local restaurant owners, churches and concerned citizens to feed 10,000 families during the pandemic to working with the United Way on early childhood initiatives. I have a proven track record of serving the citizens of our beloved City. I’m a Bridge Builder focused on listening, finding the truth and getting stuff done. I am running for City Council to be a voice, an advocate, and bridge builder for our city.
1. OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM
Building our children’s self-perception so they can discover their intrinsic value is extremely important to me. During my time working in our local juvenile detention center and school system, I learned the power of instilling a healthy self-perception in children and the huge difference it makes in their performance, grades and future. Once in office, I plan to help connect students with the resources they need to feel successful, while also partnering with community members, teachers, and administrators to help build our students and show them the value they hold.
2. OUR CITY'S CRIME
Lynchburg sits above the national medium in terms of violent crimes. I believe that the main issues contributing to this is the school to prison pipeline for young men in our city, and the recidivism rate after incarceration. I plan on using accountability within both our communities and law enforcement to positively impact these statistics which attack crime at the root and keep our children out of the system. As a united front we can help to eliminate crime within our city.
3. OUR ECONOMY
It is no secret that jobs have left Lynchburg, leaving many of us with limited options. I am committed to working to promote local business, encourage new business development, and help to bring new jobs into the city through leading collaborations with both the private and public sectors.
Beau Wright is a 3rd generation Lynchburg native and an 8th generation Central Virginian. After graduating from E.C. Glass High School, in 2007, he received a BA in Government and History from the College of William & Mary. He is also a graduate of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia.
Elected to City Council in May 2018, Beau was elected by his colleagues in July 2020 to serve as Vice-Mayor. On Council, Beau has fought for public education; critical investments in community infrastructure, including a new police department headquarters and the Lakeside Drive Bridge; and for stronger municipal services.
Prior to his election to City Council, from 2011 to 2017, he served in numerous capacities in the White House under President Obama. In his last role there, as the Senior Deputy Director of Operations and Director for Finance, Beau was responsible for managing the White House's financial operations and advising senior White House leadership on budget strategy.
Beau currently serves as chair of the Central Virginia Metropolitan Planning Organization and Community Development Advisory Committee, and on the boards of Virginia First Cities, the Pierce Street Gateway Project, and the Endstation Theatre Company. An avid hiker, jogger, and lover of the outdoors, he lives in the Diamond Hill neighborhood in Downtown Lynchburg.
1. Public Education
As a third generation graduate of Lynchburg City School, I believe public education is a cornerstone of our community and that our city’s success hinges on it. It's critical that when our students go out into the world, they are ready for whatever's next — the military, technical training, college, or the workforce. And to make sure they are ready, I believe we need to continue to invest in our faculty and staff and facilities. The recently released facilities study, for example, revealed that many of our schools are in need of replacement or overhaul. This will require close coordination between the City, which owns the buildings, and LCS, as well as thoughtful, prudent long-term financial planning. I am committed to working closely with citizens, stakeholders, and City and LCS leadership to make those investments in a fiscally responsible fashion.
2. Economic and Business Development
I believe that the City, to maintain and expand its competitive edge, should do everything within its power to foster a dynamic, diversified local economy. That's why, during my time on City Council, I have fought for pro-business investments, including Downtown Renewal, increased funding for the Office of Economic Development, and multimodal transportation improvements. It's also why I have supported annual city investment in the Regional Business Alliance and essential quality of life and public safety investments in our community, because all businesses need a desirable, safe location to do their best work.
3. Neighborhood Investment
We are fortunate to live in an incredible community, with a remarkable diversity of people and neighborhoods. But beyond core services, each neighborhood has different needs. What Tinbridge Hill needs is different from Dearington, which is different from Cornerstone, so our approach to neighborhood investment — which I believe is critical to our economic and civic future — cannot be one size fits all. Creating and funding comprehensive neighborhood plans is essential if we're going to stay on top of each neighborhood's unique needs (which could be as varied as development of a park or updated zoning), while also ensuring our essential infrastructure — roads, sidewalks, bridges, water and sewer — are maintained and expanded, where needed. On Council, I have been proud to support a number of neighborhood plans, from Dearington to Tyreeanna and Pleasant Valley, as well as critical and long overdue investments in our neighborhoods, especially those that have historically been under-resourced. I hope to continue this work in another term on City Council.