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Staunton City Council explores elections, Equity and Diversity liaison

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 10:35 AM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Staunton City Council explored lighting, elections and the Equity and Diversity Commission in Thursday night’s council work session and council meeting.

During their work session, council heard a presentation on Community Friendly Outdoor Lighting by the Newton Neighborhood Lighting Committee to explore changing technology, considerations when making decisions about lighting and recommendations to avoid pitfalls and choosing good designs.

The Committee explained lighting should be useful, but also controlled. They explained light pollution and how to avoid it. After the presentation, Councilor Brenda Mead asked the speakers what measures council can take to make sure Staunton is on the right path for good lighting.

One speaker said education is key, and another speaker said ordinances help make sure the city is on the same page and have some restrictions for what lighting decisions can be made.

New Virginia law says local elections have to take place in November, and Staunton’s mayoral elections are currently set for July, so that must be changed. Thursday’s meeting made it so that the mayoral election will take place in January.

Vice Mayor Mark Robertson proposed replacing Councilor Mead as liaison to the Equity and Diversity Commission. He said it’s important to keep consistency, and since Mead’s term will be up in December, he wants a member of council to fill the role who will be there throughout the 18-month process.

Mead asked council to consider her dedication to the project.

“Acknowledge the effort I have put forth and acknowledge the passion and commitment I have had for this commission,” she said.

Oakes said she was eager to serve the commission in the role of liaison.

“My intention is to help this commission, to be able to build it up, and to again help their service be the best it can be,” Oakes said.

The discussion comes after Mead released demographic information about the commission’s candidates to a newspaper. After the information was public, some councilors raised issue with the process.

Robertson said he proposed the switch because of consistency; Oakes did mention the release of information in her support of the proposal. Councilor Carolyn Dull voiced her support for Mead, saying taking on the liaison role wouldn’t be “a good look” for Oakes.

In the end, after a few amendments, it was decided Oakes and Mead would serve on the commission together.

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