Tuesday night’s meeting was the closing of an important chapter in Blacksburg history. It was the last meeting for three council members who decided not to run for reelection and find new ways to make their community better.

Al Leighton has been on Town Council almost 36 years. He was elected during a time of controversy and strife in our town. There were fourteen people running for council when Al was elected and Blacksburg was at a crossroads. Al worked to restore trust and integrity to town government. He championed neighborhood preservation but did not turn his back on the future. Much of what we see good around us, we owe to Al’s hard work and vision.

Al was a great mentor to me as I started on the Planning Commission in 1993 and gave me insight into the history of Blacksburg and how certain traditions have evolved. Al is also a great friend.

Tom Sherman and I started working on town issues about twenty years ago as representatives to the Blacksburg Federation of Neighborhoods. From there I went on to Planning Commission and Council. Tom joined me on Council two years after I was first elected so he has served since 1998. Tom’s approach has been a thoughtful one, balancing all views, while always being true to his core belief in transparent government and neighborhood and historic preservation.

We owe Tom a great deal of thanks because he has agreed to stay very active in town government and continue his service to the Housing Authority and Museum initiatives. These are causes Tom feels very passionate about.

Tom and I also have one other thing in common – we are both history majors. But, Tom did have one semester of engineering. I am also proud to call Tom friend.

Mike Rosenweig stepped into a very difficult situation. Derek Myers had passed away and we needed someone to fill his seat. When Mike’s name was mentioned I only knew him by his reputation as a neighborhood advocate who not only talked about sustainability but practiced it.

Mike was the right person at the right time. He not only filled the seat but added thoughtful comment to our discussions. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his service and how he performed his duties.

As Mike and I got to know each other, we realized we had a connection to the past. Mike grew up in Croton-On-Hudson, New York. My Aunt from New Orleans lived in Croton-On-Hudson. As we talked, Mike realized he passed their house every morning going to school. Their last name was Smart and, when Mike saw the mail box, he thought about Get Smart the T.V. show. It is a small world.

I will miss working with all three of these good people. And, I look forward to working with the new Council members. I will post some thoughts about that next week.

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