From Conduct Council to City Council: Williamsburg Vice Mayor Scott Foster ’10, J.D. ’14 reflects on his time in office

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Scott Foster ‘10, J.D. ‘14 was the first student elected to City Council. Foster enjoys exploring Williamsburg’s running trails along with his wife and dog. COURTESY PHOTO / SCOTT FOSTER FOR CITY COUNCIL

All it took for City of Williamsburg Vice Mayor Scott Foster ’10, J.D. ’14 to decide that the College of William and Mary was the right school for him was a weekend football game during the fall of his senior year of high school. Two degrees from the College and two terms on Williamsburg’s City Council later, he’s looking forward to having more time to enjoy living in Williamsburg.

“William and Mary ended up losing the game by a field goal at the end,” Foster said. “I woke up the next morning and was walking around campus and it was really quiet, but I was like, ‘Wow I could still see myself coming here.’ I submitted an application the last day it could be postmarked, and I got in. When I got the letter in the mail there really was no question about it.”

Foster took his freshman seminar in the government department, and that class set him on his way to declaring his government major. Looking back on his time as a student, he said that one of his favorite experiences was taking a class about state and local government with former department chair John McGlennon. McGlennon later advised Foster during his senior year on an independent study.

“I took full advantage of liberal arts, although I could have just as easily squeezed a second major in,” Foster said. “I took advanced psychology classes, advanced biology, English. I just spread it out all over the map. I am really glad I did that because I think it makes me an informed citizen and makes me curious about things I otherwise wouldn’t have been.”

During his time as an undergraduate, Foster said that many of his favorite memories were created living in the Lodges, the set of on-campus houses that were torn down in 2016 to allow for the construction of the Integrated Health Center. He said he remembers hosting homecoming tailgates there and getting ready for the King and Queen’s Ball with his closest friends.

“When I first came to William and Mary, students had just gotten the right to vote in Williamsburg,” Foster said.

Foster also played on several intramural sports teams and served on the Undergraduate Student Conduct Council from his sophomore to his senior year.

However, his path shifted in the spring of his junior year when some of his fellow students encouraged him to run for City Council.

“When I first came to William and Mary, students had just gotten the right to vote in Williamsburg,” Foster said.

In 2008, he had seen Matt Beato ’09 run for a City Council seat but not be elected. After spending that summer taking classes in Williamsburg, Foster decided running for elected office in Williamsburg was something he wanted to try.

“That fall, I was like, ‘I really love Williamsburg, I see some areas I can contribute,’” Foster said. “The City and the College had somewhat of an adversarial relationship and I thought I could make things better at that end.”

During his first four years on the City Council, Foster said that he was proud to have worked on projects like overhauling the City’s comprehensive plan. Part of this plan was to reevaluate local land use.

“This change led to a lot of the redevelopment of what is now the Amber Ox building and the Griffin Arms building,” Foster said. “It has really changed the game for that section of Prince George Street, which is now one of the coolest streets in the City. I am really proud — those comprehensive plan changes have really given a shot of energy to downtown.”

Four years later, Foster decided that there was still unfinished business that he wanted to work on with City Council, so he chose to run again. At the time, he was also about to graduate from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law and had a job lined up in Williamsburg after graduation.

“There was still a lot of work to do in regards to public infrastructure, continuing the buildup and development of downtown and we had just hired a new city manager,” Foster said. “I felt like continuity was a good thing at the time.”

In his last four years, Foster said he is proud of a controversial but important decision: the enactment of the City’s Tourism Development Fund. He said the fund has been part of a larger conversation about tourism, development and tourism promotion.

“I was the first student to get elected to City Council,” Foster said. “After that happened we have made a conscious effort to get students on different boards and I am very proud of that and it’s been a big change.”

In his last almost 12 years in Williamsburg, Foster said that he has seen a lot of changes in the City and on the City Council. One of those started with him.

“I was the first student to get elected to City Council,” Foster said. “After that happened we have made a conscious effort to get students on different boards and I am very proud of that and it’s been a big change.”

Foster said that he also noticed that the demographics of the City are also changing, as more young adults move in.

“We’ve got a number of neighborhoods that folks are aging out of, as people are moving to retirement homes and that sort of thing,” Foster said. “Those neighborhoods are being backfilled with either young people with kids or young people without kids and I think that is a really good thing to see the revitalization of those neighborhoods. That is not something the City can take credit for specifically, but it’s good progress.”

With elections for City Council coming up in May, Foster will soon be done with that set of his responsibilities. He also works as a real estate and small business attorney and is looking forward to focusing new energy on that job. Foster said he’s also looking forward to finding new projects and new things to do to fill his free time.

“I spend a lot of time outside,” Foster said. “Williamsburg is a great place to be a fisherman, and my wife and dog enjoy all of the walking and running trails around town. I also really enjoy all the restaurants in the Williamsburg area. It’s a very nice, high quality, relaxed place to live, and it enjoys a quality of life that a lot of people don’t get.”

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