Having lived on the Peninsula since 1993 and having held a variety of positions in the James City County community, Heather Cordasco believes she has the community ties and service experience necessary to represent the 93rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Cordasco has served as a James City County School board member, a New Horizons board member, a League of Women Voters member and a member of the Chickahominy Playground fundraising committee. She said the reason she’s running for the House of Delegates is largely rooted in her view of public service as community involvement.
“I’m not sure that I ever wanted to be a part of politics,” Cordasco said. “I was raised with the understanding that you’re supposed to be very involved in your community … it’s a lot of work, but I very much enjoy it.”
In addition to the leadership positions she has held in James City County, Cordasco is also involved in the community through her occupation. She is a group fitness instructor who specializes in the fitness of older adults. She has three adult children who have all graduated from James City County schools and her family worships at the Williamsburg Community Chapel.
Cordasco believes that her involvement in the community and the years she has spent in the area gives her an advantage that others don’t have. She said that since she knows the nuances of the area, she will be able to create policy that really suits the Peninsula’s needs.
“I think I have a pretty thorough and detailed knowledge of the area,” Cordasco said. “A lot of people think of Williamsburg as Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. I think people think of it as a destination and I think people see affluence and so I think until you’ve lived here and seen the wide diversity, it can be hard to pick up on that.”
One of the issues that Cordasco sees as most relevant to the Peninsula is transportation — more specifically traffic congestion in the lower Peninsula.
She also wants to focus on bringing more jobs to the area in order to improve the economy, especially encouraging jobs that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree. When she was a member of the James City County School Board, Cordasco worked to urge students to consider pursuing technical degrees and careers in manufacturing and the trades.
“Many of the things I worked on when I was on the school board have amazing overlap with some of the things going on in the General Assembly,” Cordasco said.
Cordasco said that, if elected, she hopes to continue to work with schools in the 93rd District and around Virginia to encourage high school students to pursue careers outside of the four-year college track. She said that these kinds of careers are valuable to the community and the economy and can help students avoid the rising costs of higher education.
Even though she thinks and talks about the issues that are important to her and wants to be a part of the state government, Cordasco said she doesn’t want to consider herself a politician.
“I don’t like to use the word ‘politics,’ because I think it’s really local involvement and community involvement,” Cordasco said.
Although she sees holding a political office as simply another form of community involvement, Cordasco can’t help but be drawn into a larger discussion in the political world, simply because of her gender.
Aside from presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein, United State House of Representatives Democratic candidate Shaun Brown and Cordasco will be the only females on the ballot for Williamsburg voters, with Cordasco as the only Republican woman. As the national political conversation comes to include gender more extensively, Cordasco said that she thinks women can bring something unique to politics.
“I think women bring a very unique perspective to the table,” Cordasco said. “Generally, we are the ones who bring a group to a compromise. I think we are good at listening, reflecting back to people what they’re saying and we’re also used to managing a lot of things at one time. We’re required to be able to do a lot of multitasking.”
Aside from what she thinks having a woman representing the 93rd House district would bring to the House of Delegates, Cordasco said she has proven herself to be a hard worker who is dedicated to making change happen.
Cordasco described herself as someone who listens to people and reaches the goals she sets forth for herself.
“I never go into a situation and leave it the same,” Cordasco said. “It’s always better. I’m an outcome-based, motivated person who will really represent the needs of this district because I know them well.”