Blacksburg Town Council Candidates outline their priorities

The following statements were submitted to the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County. All statements are directly from the candidate, and not edited by the League.

The League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates or political parties. Blacksburg Town Council Candidates Susan Anderson (incumbent), Lauren Colliver, Ken Jones and Susan McDonald Mattingly were asked to list the three most important priorities that they would like to address if they were elected. There are three seats open in this year’s race.

Susan Anderson

Anderson: Wise management of growth and development to ensure both economic viability and community livability:

Development and redevelopment should be guided by our shared community values and managed by adherence to zoning ordinances and our Comprehensive Plan’s vision. Directing growth toward clustering and in ll to preserve green space should be encouraged. Public and alternative transportation are necessary components of sustainable growth.

The continued revitalization of our historic downtown as a pedestrian friendly, vibrant retail and arts center:

A thriving town core is essential to both the health and the character of Blacksburg. Appropriate development of the old Blacksburg Middle School site and the future redevelopment of the Blacksburg Baptist Church property are critical to this goal.

Promoting diverse housing options while protecting the integrity of existing neighborhoods: A diverse community has diverse housing needs. To attract and support working families, young professionals, retirees, and our student population, Blacksburg needs housing appropriate for all income levels and lifestyles. Guarding our neighborhoods against encroachment and decay is vital to a high quality of life for all residents.

Colliver: Support for small business and entrepreneurs are key to maintaining Blacksburg’s unique character.

Let’s simplify regulations for starting new businesses and focus on growth for our existing businesses. Blacksburg’s relationships with Montgomery County and Virginia Tech are vital to our continued success. Our Town Council has an opportunity to reshape those relationships to be more open and positive. Maintaining our town’s green space and encouraging environmental protection.

Ken Jones

Jones: Downtown: I would like to see more people living and working in downtown. Infrastructure improvements for traffic and parking will be needed, while continuing to explore means of alternative transportation.

Managed growth: As a business owner I welcome the growth. However, it will be a challenge to manage the growth that is coming and not lose our small town appeal.

Better Town-County Relations.

Susan McDonald Mattingly

Mattingly: Protecting neighborhoods—Virginia Tech is growing. A large in ux of new students will put a strain on some neighborhoods. It’s essential that we enforce current occupancy requirements. We also need to work with developers to help them build or rehab student housing in the areas of town best suited for more dense development—and help them to do it sustainably.

Fostering a vibrant business community—We need to explore strategies to retain, grow and recruit businesses. This includes providing adequate infrastructure, whether it’s parking facilities, or robust broadband. Broadband has become an essential utility. We must be responsive to their needs if we want to bring the next generation’s entrepreneurs to Blacksburg and to grow our tax base.

Building Collaborative Relationships—In order to have good relationships, we must first build mutual trust. This requires listening to constituents and stakeholders with as open mind. It’s also essential to be transparent and responsive to their concerns. When we work together to find common ground we can find creative solutions to our challenges.

Council members serve four-year terms. The election is Tuesday, Nov. 7. Polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Blacksburg voters are in portions of districts A, E, F and G. Citizens can check the mayoral race preview to locate which district they fall under.

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