Ted Maslin, MBA ’80, MPA is one of three W&M alumni serving on Williamsburg City Council.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
Students at the College of William and Mary have many opportunities to participate with the surrounding community. This includes everything from volunteering with numerous non-profit organizations to taking advantage of internships and part-time work with local government, businesses and the Chamber of Commerce.
Many aspects of Williamsburg contribute to an ideal college town community, which developed centuries ago in an area known as the home of the first General Assembly – the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. Leading up to the American Revolution, we knew the importance of public discourse which would shape the direction of a new nation.
Williamsburg offers the scale where students can easily learn in a live lab how cities work and flourish with strong community partners. They have the ability to help define community issues and brainstorm solution options. Students working for the City of Williamsburg and the Chamber of Commerce learn how to see multiple sides of issues. When serving on boards and commissions, students experience first-hand the deliberative process and how each vote counts.
On Sept. 12 at the Williamsburg Regional Library auditorium, many students joined homeowners to ask questions of City Council candidates regarding community concerns such as the availability, affordability and quality of housing and parking – both on campus and off campus. Coupled with that were discussions of how to improve harmony in the neighborhoods adjacent to the College. Safety for bikes and pedestrians were also highlighted as concerns.
The city has a good record of encouraging incremental housing opportunities beyond these neighborhoods. One example was the reinvestment in the former Williamsburg Shopping Center from which Midtown Row emerged and added more than 600 bedrooms, many of which were snapped up last year by college students. Students have also taken advantage of new apartments built at High Street several blocks further away from Midtown Row. Without this additional supply of rental inventory, one can only imagine how high the 600-person waitlist for on-campus housing would have jumped this past spring. (Fortunately, the College administration reversed their earlier decision to take One Tribe Place offline this academic year.)
Voters can help elected officials focus on which issues take priority and what common sense solutions should be implemented in a timely manner. This year there are two (out of five) City Council seats up for election in addition to one seat for the US Congress. City Council members serve all citizens within the City of Williamsburg.
Registering to vote and voting in Williamsburg has never been easier. Check out tables at the Sadler Center Sept. 20 and 21 for assistance registering to vote. (National Voter Registration Day is September 20.)
Early in-person voting at the Municipal Building – 401 Lafayette St. (4 blocks from Sorority Court) begins weekdays on Sept. 23 along with Saturdays Oct. 29 and Nov. 5. Election Day is Tuesday November 8 with the two precincts at the Methodist Church on Jamestown Road across from William & Mary and the Williamsburg Community Building near the Williamsburg Regional Library (check your voter registration info for your designated precinct.)