Checking In: Staunton & Harrisonburg

Mar 30, 2020

Staunton Mayor Carolyn Dull (left) Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed (right)

As part of a new series on WMRA, we are checking in with mayors from our region about how they are managing the new coronavirus crisis. We spoke on Monday, March 30th with Staunton Mayor Carolyn Dull and Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed.

Each Mayor was asked to share her thoughts on three questions:

1) How do you see the state of things today?

2) What challenges do you anticipate in the coming weeks?

3) What in your community gives you hope?

Here’s what they had to say:

MAYOR DULL: Hi I’m Carolyn Dull, Mayor of the city of Staunton Virginia.

We have just been notified of our first case of testing positive for the covid-19 virus. That's certainly causing some uneasiness with constituents and I would guess that we will be seeing more confirmed cases in the next week or so.

We are doing something from the city to try to alleviate the pain of our small businesses, we are a small business oriented city, so we have taken steps to relieve interest and late payment fees and not require payment on some taxes, until later in the spring and summer, to try to give this a chance to work its way through our system.

And we have encouraged everyone to get exercise out in the parks, and in their yards, and walking on their street, but maintaining the physical social distancing to try to keep us as safe as possible.

So the challenges that we anticipate in the next week or two frankly would be the probable increase in positive covid cases. And I'd say the challenges further ahead are that we are a city that has May elections, and the governor has already recommended everyone doing absentee ballots. So we're trying to get the word out to folks that they can apply online for an absentee ballot, they can go down to our parking garage and call the registrar, they will meet them out there, they can vote in-person absentee now.

And I would say, what gives me real hope about our city, is that we do have a community here. It was almost instantaneous that groups started forming to get together on social media and try to figure out how to help other people, and to let people know how to get what they needed and to check on each other, and make sure that the elderly and disabled are doing okay. And there's nothing better than that. I am so proud of our citizens for stepping up instantly in that case. And I think that will help people to weather this storm, ‘cause we'll get through this. There's already some encouraging vaccines they're working on and different treatments, and we will come out the other side stronger!

MAYOR REED: I’m Deanna Reed, Mayor of Harrisonburg.

This is a difficult time for many in our community, but I have been encouraged about how our residents and businesses have come together to support one another and stay “Harrisonburg Strong”.

It is important that we definitely stay at home, that is the only way that we are going to be able to manage this. And I know it’s difficult, I know it’s difficult to just stay at home. You know, I know we're getting hit hard with our local small businesses, we can't hang out at our restaurants like we would normally do and enjoy having a good meal inside. But we can order out and take it home or have it delivered, or go buy a gift card to support our local businesses or restaurants. It’s just a new normal, just for now, but that’s what we need to do to keep each other safe.

You know our challenges are the same as every other city and county in America right now. We have to continue providing those essential city services and support our local business community as much as we can.

And like I said before, I know it can be difficult for people to have faith right now in these situations, but it’s important that we take the responsibility of each other. And so I know the weather is nice, you know it’s Spring! But we need to follow those recommendations that Governor Northam has put out for us to follow.

I love this community. That's one reason why I am so proud to be Mayor of my home town. The messages of support and unity that I’ve seen have shown me the true meaning of “The Friendly City”. I've seen many people organize in their neighborhoods to help the elderly so that they wouldn’t have to come out and go to the grocery store or pick up medicines. That’s what we do!

Plenty of folks are coming together and making donations to our local community foundation and our local United Way. People are gathering food and taking it to the food bank. Our residents, our community, our people… that's what gives me hope and that's why I know that as long as we are working together, we're going to get through this together.