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After one near miss, four take City Council oath

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Two new council members entered Fredericksburg’s history books and a third began a new chapter on Tuesday as the three took the oath of office inside the 19th-century Town Hall building.

Councilman Brad Ellis became a footnote of sorts on Tuesday as he initially was overlooked.

The 20-minute ceremony had concluded when Circuit Judge Gordon Willis called Ellis aside to tell him he also needed to take the oath of office.

His swearing-in had been left off the official program, something he said was “no big deal.”

Ellis’ wife, Victoria, and their young daughters Hannah and Mckenzie joined him and the process was quickly completed in the historic Council Chambers used for the event.

Ellis, 43, is a management consultant. He ran unopposed for re-election in the May council elections and now begins a new four-year term.

Voters elected representatives for all four ward seats during this spring’s elections, resulting in three new people on the council.

Political newcomers Tim Duffy and Charlie L. “Chuck” Frye Jr., and Billy Withers, who served on the council eight years ago, join Ellis, at-large members Kerry Devine and Matt Kelly, and Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw in forming the new council.

Duffy and Frye said they are eager to get started, but neither listed specific goals.

Withers said he’s ready to return to the “meat” of governing and wants to continue working to protect the city’s historic areas while allowing growth.

“I want to make sure the development we do downtown meshes with what we have,” he said. He also said it’s important, when adding anything, to consider the impact it will have on the city 25 to 30 years later.

He was elected vice mayor during Tuesday’s ceremony.

City staff members have been helping prepare the new council members for their duties, starting in mid-June with two days of orientation to bring them up to speed on issues and acquaint them with the procedures for city governance.

They also introduced them to representatives from each city department, briefed them on topics such as conflicts of interest and the state’s Freedom of Information Act, and gave them hefty amounts of reading materials so they can become familiar with key topics, Assistant City Manager Mark Whitley said.

Later this month, the new members will travel to Richmond to attend training through the Virginia Municipal League.

Duffy, 51, is an assistant principal at Walker–Grant Middle School. His wife, Karen, and grown children Caitlin and Ian attended Tuesday’s ceremony.

Duffy becomes the second city school employee and second Walker–Grant staff member on the council. Devine teaches there.

Frye’s presence returns a minority to the dais after a four-year hiatus.

The 35-year-old United Parcel Service delivery driver has spent most of his community service as a leader of youth programs. His wife, Kisha Frye, teaches fifth grade at the city’s Lafayette Upper Elementary School. Their three children, TáNesha, Charlie III and Kamron, attended the event along with other supporters.

Withers, 70, is a retired real estate appraiser who served on the council from 2002–06 and on the School Board from 1988 to 1991.

His wife, Alma, and his 92-year-old mother, Edith Withers, attended the event along with his son, Andy Withers, and his family.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

 

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