By Bridget Manley
The Harrisonburg City Council re-elected Deanna Reed as mayor and selected Sal Romero as the vice mayor at Wednesday’s organizational meeting.
Romero and Chris Jones, who returns to the council for a second four-year term, were sworn in as well after winning the November elections.
While Romero received a unanimous vote as vice mayor, Reed was voted in by all but one city council member. George Hirschmann voted against Reed for a second term as mayor.
Reed’s re-appointment as mayor also represents a break from recent tradition in which the top vote-getter in the previous election has won approval by the rest of the council to serve as mayor.
Reed, however, says that that hasn’t always been the case, and she says she’s excited to continue.
Reed says that she had spoken with Romero about the possibility of her serving a second term as mayor, and he was supportive of the idea.
“From the get go, I was very adamant that Mayor Reed has been doing a fine job in our city,” Romero said. “And for me to do a good job as well, I want to have an opportunity to learn more about the mayorship. I want to have an opportunity to learn more about the role if I ever get chosen to do it in the future.”
The role of the Harrisonburg mayor is largely ceremonial, but it does come with a larger platform for that person’s agenda.
Pushing up the timeline for the new high school construction and increasing affordable housing are two of Reed’s main priorities in the next two years, she said. And she added she also wants to tackle wage discrimination and equal pay.
Romero, the only newcomer to the city council, said he was honored to be chosen as vice mayor and looks forward to supporting Reed “and the great job that she does.”
Romero ran on speeding up the new school construction, and plans to bring that up beginning at the first meeting Jan. 8. He said he wants greater access for everyone in the city and to eliminate language barriers that keep members of the community from accessing local government resources.
Meanwhile Jones will replace Reed as school board liaison and will work with Councilman Richard Baugh, who has been serving in that capacity for the last few years.
“Chris understands our school system well,” Romero said. “He’s been involved in the decisions and discussions that have taken place over the last four years. He’s also a parent and has that perspective.”
The new council will hold its first meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 8 in the council chambers.