CENTREVILLE — The Centreville Town Council will see two fresh faces beginning this new term. Eric Johnson and Ashley Kaiser were elected Monday, Oct. 1 to fill a three-year and two-year term, respectively.
Two seats on the five-member council were open. Councilman Tim McCluskey’s term was up, and he was seeking reelection for another three-year term. And someone was needed to fill out the unfinished term of Bob Hardy, who resigned when he moved out of the area — a two-year term.
Each voter could select two candidates. A total of 952 votes were cast.
Of the 510 citizens who voted Johnson received 399 votes, Kaiser — 361 and McCluskey — 192.
McCluskey, an executive search consultant who moved to Centreville in 2006, was elected to the town council in 2009 where he served the community in continuity through this year.
The two elected Council Members wore sworn in on Thursday, Oct. 7 at the regular public meeting of the council.
Vice President Steve Kline was also elected by the council to the position of president and Johnson appointed as liaison to Centreville Economic Development Authority.
Building on her campaign commitments, Kaiser said she wants to work towards a cohesive community where residents, businesses and the Town can achieve a sense of place. “With a sense of place comes a vibrant community,” Kaiser said.
When residents were polled during his campaign, Johnson said one of things most noted by all demographics was the sense that they were leaving town on weekdays and weekends to spend their money elsewhere.
Kaiser and Johnson both hope this is something they will see change.
Ahead of the election, the two helped plan a First Friday event that was attended by hundreds in the town square. The concept of a First Friday event is one that was in the town’s own economic study from years past, Johnson said. Working with the county (which permits use of the courthouse green) both committed to the First Friday and other downtown events regardless of the election outcome, and had reserved the space for the next six months.
They agree Centreville’s downtown is beautiful and underdeveloped to its potential. “We need to maintain downtown growth and the balance of our core,” Kaiser added. And they both hope events like First Friday will encourage other groups to explore that potential.
“We were up against some resistance within the town structure, nonetheless we had the support of most of the town staff and most of the council,” Johnson noted. “The town is a business and here to serve the community and having the town endorse or lend their support, even if not financially, is certainly helpful.
My personal commitment is to work toward a town that offers it’s official support/endorsement of mutually beneficial events/programs more freely. To those departments that offered their support for a First Friday event freely, we thank you — and look forward to authorizing your official participation in the near future.”
Another concern heard frequently during campaign season was water bills. “It is a critical priority to address perceptions,” Johnson said. “I don’t think anything is nefarious with the water bills, but many have reached out wanting to know why their bills have changed or not changed, and they deserve answers,” he said, even though he was clear that he doesn’t think there is anything underhanded at work.
People tend to fill the void with their own opinions when they don’t necessarily get answers from the government, local or otherwise, Kaiser added.
Johnson and Kaiser said they excited to join their new fellow council members.
“Although we may not all agree on every point, I think we will be successful in moving like minded things forward,” Johnson said.
“First Friday’s are just the beginning,” Kaiser said, “We are looking forward to working inside the town hall and not only outside.”