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Sal Romero reflects on time as Harrisonburg Vice-Mayor

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 7:08 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Last week Harrisonburg Vice-Mayor Sal Romero announced that he will not be seeking re-election when his term ends in December. Romero was elected to City Council in 2018 and became the first Latino to hold office.

WHSV sat down with Romero on Friday to discuss his decision, his time as Vice-Mayor, the accomplishments he is most proud of, and what’s next for him after he leaves office.

“This decision was something that I had been thinking of for a while given the many different hats that I wear in the city, so it’s a decision that didn’t just come overnight. It was well thought out in collaboration with my family obviously,” said Romero.

Romero has served in the Vice-Mayor role throughout his term and has been a key voice for the city’s Latinx population.

“It’s been an honor to be that first person who allows for many others to be able to come into the door but obviously there’s no way I could’ve made this happen without the support of the electorate here in Harrisonburg,” said Romero.

Romero hopes that other members of the city’s Latinx and immigrant populations will not hesitate to follow in his footsteps and pursue City Council seats in the future.

“Being the first in anything gives you a great responsibility but I took that with all my intent to make the best of it. At this time I feel like we’re in a good place to get the next person,” he said.

As his term comes to a close in December, Romero said he is proud of all the things he and the rest of the City Council have accomplished over the last four years.

“Building the second high school, Rocktown High School, was one of the drivers for me to run for City Council and now that that is going to be a reality in the next couple of years, it seems to me that that is a promise that will be fulfilled,” he said.

Romero said that the addition of language translations of city government meetings is another accomplishment that he is proud of. He said he is also proud of the futsal court that was built at Ralph Sampson Park as soccer is a huge activity in the Harrisonburg community.

Another ongoing issue that Romero and the rest of the City Council have taken steps to address is the city’s lack of affordable housing.

“It is critical that we think about not only creating more housing but being more intentional about where we put it and how do we provide the support systems in order for that to work for the people who are living there,” said Romero.

Romero said there are still some big items he hopes to address before his term ends.

“One is to make sure that we secure and move forward with a low barrier shelter for our homeless neighbors. We want to make sure that is ready for this winter and we keep working hard to make sure that is a reality,” he said.

While he’ll be leaving office to be able to spend more time with his family, Romero plans to remain involved in the community. One way he hopes to do so is by providing a resource for members of the city’s immigrant population interested in seeking elected office.

“One of my goals is to really be able to work with anyone out there who is willing to put in the time to seek election to council. It’s going to look like, having conversations, mentoring people, and providing my own experiences,” he said.

When it comes to his legacy in the city, Romero ultimately hopes that people will remember how hard he worked to try to make Harrisonburg a better place.

“Hopefully people will remember that I served with integrity. Hopefully, people will remember that I love this community and I gave my best to it. That I gave time away in other ways to be able to give to the city,” he said.

Romero also shared what he will miss most about being Vice-Mayor.

“Meeting with constituents, visiting people at home, and sometimes just having conversations about life. I think that’s going to be something that I will definitely miss going forward.”

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