Harrisonburg council chooses new mayor, approves protocol change

Published: Jan. 3, 2017 at 6:36 PM EST
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There's new faces in the Friendly City's government.

On Tuesday, January 3rd, Deanna Reed, George Hirschmann and Richard Baugh were sworn in to serve a four-year term on the city council.

Reed was later nominated to serve as mayor by Hirschmann — a recommendation other council members unanimously approved.

The moment was historic for Harrisonburg, as Reed became the first African-American woman to serve both the council and as mayor.

"We're not the same Harrisonburg as before. We're a diverse city," Reed told the council following her promotion. "I hope to serve you well."

While Reed clarified she did not run with the mayor position in mind, she is ready to fulfill the duties.

"I wanted to make sure that all the different communities [are] working together as one community," Reed said after the reorganization meeting. "Making sure that our kids are taken care of, making sure that we're making the right decisions for them, making sure that we continue to be the vibrant city that we are."

During their meeting, the board also decided to modify the traditional agenda schedule.

Public comments will now be placed towards the end of meetings.

"It's just making sure that we are taking care of the business first," said Reed.

"In particular, it came to our mind there was an evening back in the fall where a community group that had worked really hard on the issue, knew it was going to come up, turned out a lot of folks, some of them were older and by the time it got to them, [...] they just felt like they had to leave," said Richard Baugh, who will once again serve as the city's vice-mayor.

Baugh also said the change will remind citizens of other ways to express concerns to council members, like through phone or email.

Other positions appointed on Tuesday included city attorney and city manager.

The next regularly scheduled meeting for the city council will take place Tuesday, January 10 at City Hall.