By Aila Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Binns was appointed last month by the Fincastle Town Council to replace former vice mayor George Sydnor following his resignation.
“I think it’s exciting to be a part of making decisions about what goes on within the town,” Binns said. She said that Botetourt County has “a lot of exciting things going on,” adding that she feels that Fincastle has a large role to play in the direction in which the county will go.
Binns’ appointment will go through the end of the year. A special election will be held in November. The victor will serve out the remainder of Sydnor’s term, which will expire on December 31, 2022.
The offer of appointment came as a surprise to Binns. She explained that she came home from work one day and was informed by her mother that Mayor Mary Bess Smith had called with an offer to appoint her to the Town Council.
“It was never in my mind. It was out of the blue,” Binns said.
After following up with Smith, Binns told her that she needed a few days to consider her offer. She explained that her work schedule, school schedule, and family commitments all factored into her decision.
“Being a Christian and knowing the blessings that God has given me, I wanted to serve people in some capacity,” Binns said. “Praying about it and make sure that it was the right decision for my family led me to accept the appointment.”
Smith explained that once the council realized that Sydnor had resigned, it started a process to determine who the best person was to serve in his place. The council always starts off by reviewing individuals who previously ran for office, but weren’t elected. “That shows that they considered the time and effort involved in service on the council,” she said. Since no one came to mind, the council moved on to individuals who had been recommended by citizens and individuals who directly expressed their interest in potentially being appointed.
Smith, who has served on the Town Council off and on for roughly 30 years, explained that she was first appointed much in the same way that Binns was.
“Pam’s name came up numerous times since the boundary adjustment. She’s very well-respected,” Smith said. “When this new position came up, it seemed like a good opportunity to see if she was willing to serve.
“I really felt that we needed to try to get representatives from the new town area,” Smith said. “We really want input from some of our younger families on what they want Fincastle to be and how they want Fincastle to grow in the future.”
A James River High School graduate, Binns went on to receive her undergraduate degree in marketing from James Madison University. She’s currently pursuing a graduate degree in accounting from Liberty University.
While in college, Binns met her husband. Following graduation, she was offered a job in Baltimore County, Md. She and her husband remained there for six years and eventually had twins, a boy and a girl. When the twins were 2, Binns and her husband decided to return to her roots. Binns explained that one of her primary motivating factors for moving back to Fincastle was the fact that she wanted her children to be educated by the Botetourt County Public Schools system.
She has been back in Fincastle for the past nine years. She currently serves as the director of budget and finance at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare.
A resident of a part of Fincastle that was incorporated during last year’s boundary adjustment, Binns said that she hopes to give representation to the newer residents of the town. “It’s exciting that the boundaries were expanded,” she said. “The people who haven’t had a voice before can now have a say about what’s going on in the town.”
After roughly a month following her appointment, Binns has yet to decide whether or not she will run to serve the remainder of Sydnor’s term. She views the fact that she was appointed without the commitment of a full term as a “unique opportunity” and a “trial run.”
“I’m not one who seeks out spotlight kind of roles. I’ve never liked attention or wanted to be out there,” she said.
With that being said, she hasn’t ruled out mounting a bid for the council seat. “If I get in this role and feel like I’m having a positive impact on the town and the community, then it’s a strong possibility,” she said of whether or not she’ll be on the ballot in November.
When asked about what she likes about Fincastle, Binns said, “It’s the small-town atmosphere. I’ve been in Fincastle my whole life. I love it here.” She added that she finds the friendliness and comradery of Fincastle to be irresistible.
Her first Town Council meeting will be tomorrow when the town will hold a public hearing on its proposed 2019-2020 operating budget.
“I just want to make sure we hear exactly how the residents feel about the changes that will affect them,” Binns said. She noted that she wants town residents to know that she wants to hear from them and will take their feedback to heart.
Binns and her family attend the First Baptist Church of Fincastle, where her husband was ordained as a deacon last week.
The deadline for candidates to register to have their name on the November ballot is August 16 at 5 p.m.
In addition to the special election for Sydnor’s former seat, Bob Jones’ former seat will also be on the ballot. Jones was replaced by Phillip Bartocci. The term will not expire until December of 2020.