Harrisonburg leaders prepare to fill open council seat

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 10:14 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -On Thursday morning, Harrisonburg City Councilman George Hirschmann announced his resignation after six years in the role. Hirschmann said in a letter to the community that he is grateful to have had the opportunity to make the city a better place.

In the letter, Hirschmann cited his health as the reason for his resignation which is effective immediately, leaving an open seat on the city council.

With Hirschmann’s resignation, the four remaining council members have 30 days to appoint an interim council member to his seat. WHSV spoke with city leaders about that process and what Hirschmann has meant to the council and the community.

“George has been a great friend to me and to all of us. He has been a great colleague and he’s been a great representative on city council and for the community,” said Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed.

Hirschmann was the lone independent on a council with four democrats but despite political disagreements, he is beloved by his colleagues.

“Even through difficult decisions that we had to make George would be the one that could just make you smile, make you laugh. He always had something witty to say,” said Mayor Reed.

Reed and the rest of council are now tasked with finding a replacement for Hirschmann.

“There’s not really a precedent that they need to follow they just will come together and start having those conversations as soon as possible and determine who is the best-qualified individual for that seat. What is best to continue moving the business of council forward,” said Mike Parks, Harrisonburg’s Director of Communication.

Whoever council appoints will serve in the role through the end of the year. A special election will be held in November to see who will serve in the seat for the remaining two years of Hirschmann’s term.

“What you will likely see on the ballot is the two four-year seats and then listed separately that two-year remaining term. So you would have different candidates for the four-year seats versus candidates for the two-year seat,” said Parks.

Parks said that he and the rest of city staff will miss working with Councilman Hirschmann and seeing him around City Hall.

“We thank Councilman Hirschmann for everything that he’s done for our city. He’s certainly a face that we’re going to miss here at City Hall and a voice we’re going to miss out in our community serving our residents,” he said.

Mayor Reed said that council will be looking for someone who has Hirschman’s passion for the community to replace him.

“He loved his community, he was an advocate for the seniors, he loved the police department, the fire department, public works, and public safety,” she said. “We’ll be looking for someone with the dedication, the experience that George had.”

City Council has scheduled a special meeting on June 2 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss filling Hirschmann’s seat.

The city asks that the public respect Hirschmann’s privacy at this time.

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