Fleming, Robinson win Democratic nominations for Harrisonburg City Council
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - UPDATE: Dany Fleming and Monica Robinson will be the Democratic party’s two nominees for the open city council seats in November.
Fleming received the most votes with 191 and Robinson received 156 to beat out incumbent Chris Jones by a single vote. Jones received 155 votes and Paloma Saucedo received 106.
Earlier on Saturday WHSV was at Democratic headquarters and caught up with a few of the candidates.
On Saturday, the Harrisonburg Democratic party held a caucus for city council elections coming up in November. Four candidates were vying for the party’s two nominations for the two council seats that will be open in November.
Following the appointment of former Mayor Richard Baugh to fill the seat vacated by Councilman George Hirschmann who resigned for health reasons, Democrats now hold all five seats on the city council.
The party is hoping the two candidates will allow it to hold those seats for the next several years.
“This year is extremely important for the party and our community. It sets a path for leadership for the years ahead. It sets a path for leaders with city council and leaders with school board,” said Alleyn Harned, chair of the Harrisonburg Democratic Committee.
The two city council seats up for grabs in November are currently held by Vice-Mayor Sal Romero who is not seeking reelection and Councilman Chris Jones is hoping to win a third term on the council.
“In order to continue to build a better ‘burg we’ve got to have folks that know the job as well as add folks with new ideas. I’m one of the folks that already knows the job so I’m excited to continue to be a voice,” said Jones.
Jones said one issue he hopes to address if re-elected is child care.
“A big priority right now for me is child care. I think that’s a part of the economic development ecosystem that we need to make it easier for employees and employers who need better child care options,” he said.
Other priorities for Jones include continuing to work to address the city’s affordable housing crisis, providing the necessary resources for public safety through the Harrisonburg Police and Fire Departments, and taking care of the city’s senior citizens.
Competing with Jones for the two nominations are three candidates who would be new to the council: Dany Fleming, Monica Robinson, and Paloma Saucedo.
Fleming is a former school board member and the current chair of the Harrisonburg Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners.
“We have the capacity to solve a lot of the problems that we have here. It takes listening, it takes working with folks we have a lot of expertise in the city among a lot of stakeholders. Pulling those folks together, that’s something I do well and I’d like to bring that to city council,” said Fleming.
If elected, Fleming says he hopes to use his experience with HHRA to work to address the housing crisis.
“We have too many folks that can’t find housing, that are doubled up in housing, that are paying too much rent for housing. We have folks who want to move to the city to work, we have companies looking to hire people and their staff can’t find housing,” he said.
“We’ve got challenges all across the spectrum here in Harrisonburg and to resolve that is going to take a lot of work from a lot of people. City council is one place where that happens,” he added.
Monica Robinson is the president of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham NAACP and the executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project. She is a former teacher and feels her educational background would serve her well on council.
“When you take on a position like this you are serving the community but you also have to make a commitment to be a steadfast dedicated learner. So I think my background with that and knowing that change often comes in trickles and not in downpours has helped prepare me,” she said.
Robinson said she hopes to be a voice for all of the city’s immigrant communities.
“I want to make sure that we start going to every community, every immigrant community that we have in the city and really find out how they feel about issues and making sure their voice is being taken back down to the municipal building,” she said.
Paloma Saucedo is a community organizer who operates a child care center and ran for council as an independent back in 2018. She was unavailable for comment on Saturday.
The two highest vote-getters in the caucus will win the party’s nominations for the two full four-year city council terms that are open in November.
The party will also be holding a second caucus in July to choose one candidate to run in the special election in November to fill the remaining two years of George Hirschmann’s term.
“We are soliciting candidates now, hoping that the candidates who participate in this caucus would consider but then also opening up the table for that one additional seat,” said Harned.
As of Saturday, there is no set date for the July caucus.
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