Baugh Expected To Be City’s Next Mayor

Brent Finnegan -- December 7th, 2010

Harrisonburg Vice Mayor Richard Baugh is expected to be elected the city’s next mayor.

Baugh says being mayor is something he is willing to do. “The other members have indicated that they believe I am capable and would support me for this position. If they still feel that way when we meet on January 3, I am willing to accept the job,” he wrote in an email to hburgnews.

Richard Baugh photo by Holly Marcus

Richard Baugh photo by Holly Marcus, via the hburgnews Flickr group

Jeff Mellott reported in the Daily News-Record on November 26:

Baugh said he has talked informally and individually with the other four council members, including Degner, about the mayoral post.

“I told him that he would have my support if he wanted it,” Degner said of his conversation with Baugh.

Chenault, who serves on the Harrisonburg Planning Commission, has gone on record supporting Byrd for mayor.

Mayors of Harrisonburg may carry out their role somewhat differently, but the core function in our council-manager government remains functionally the same: to chair meetings and vote last.

“Something that people who have not followed Council closely may not have picked up is that Harrisonburg has used the typical Roberts’ Rules model where the Chair generally cannot make motions,” Baugh wrote. “So, if the Mayor is the driving force behind an issue, at least two other members have to agree in order for it to become a motion and come to a vote. In other words, there are key aspects to implementing policy where it is sometimes disadvantageous to be the Mayor.”

During his current tenure as mayor, Kai Degner hosted the “Mayor’s Sustainability Summit” among others, in conjunction with the Fairfield Center. Baugh says that he is willing to remain involved in the summits, but explains that the meetings aren’t really “mayor’s summits.”

My understanding is that our referring to these events as “the mayor’s summits” is a function of branding. Early on they really became Fairfield Center events. Of course between Kai’s having been the driving force in getting the summits started in the first place, and his connection with the Fairfield Center, many of us still call them the mayor’s summits.

In my view these events have been valuable to the community. If I become Mayor, I intend to be in communication with Kai and the Fairfield Center as to their plans for continuing these events. If I can play a part in keeping these events going and providing a setting for the community to come together to discuss important issues, I would very much like to do that.

City Council will elect a mayor January 3.

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16 Responses to “Baugh Expected To Be City’s Next Mayor”

  1. Kai Degner says:

    I’m excited to support Vice Mayor Baugh for mayor, and have been honored to serve in the position the previous two years.

    For clarity on the origination of the summit series, let me offer a quick explanation. After being elected, many people stopped me to discuss issues like smart growth, alternative energy, local food, etc. The issues and ideas were (and remain) many, and most of their exploration or implementation would be, at least in my mind, inappropriate and/or ineffective to create and maintain in local government. However, the formation of groups, committees, affiliations, and even small businesses to champion efforts could make them realty, and the city could then participate if and when appropriate. The trouble was, I saw many individuals interested in sustainability who did not know of each other’s interests and projects, and thus were not exploring possible synergies and partnerships.

    I thus chose to coordinate and host, in partnership with community members such as Karl Shank, Suzi Carter, Charles Hendricks, John Eckman, Bruce Lundeen, and many others, an event titled the “Mayor’s Sustainability Summit.” I lent the “mayor” title to the event to help with the attendance. I personally called many businesses and groups to attend, as did the core outreach group, some of whom I mentioned above. This work came naturally, having been involved with a dialogue project called The OrangeBand Initiative, where our team had put together over 200 discussion events between 2003-2006.

    Close to 200 people attended the downtown Mayor’s Sustainability Summit, and there was much positive feedback. There was reason to believe a series of these events could be created on various topics since “stove piping” is common in many industries.

    That is when I turned to my boss, Tim Ruebke, at the Fairfield Center, where I had taken a fulltime job as a facilitator. Fairfield, originally named the Community Mediation Cetner, has in its mission to “advance dialogue and understanding.” Tim agreed such a series of summits would be a furtherance of that mission, and approved the creation of the “Harrisonburg Summits” series. The design and approach was much like the first summit, but the “mayor” title was dropped because the Harrisonburg Summits series became a program of Fairfield Center’s Civic Engagement branch.

    The Fairfield staff and board have since championed the summit series, and hundreds of community organizations and businesses have embraced the Harrisonburg Summits series as a community resource. Each event is free to the public.

    We have had a dozen summits – and over 1,200 people have attended at least one since May 2009. Summit partners have ranged from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, to the United Way, to the Daily News-Record, to JMU and EMU, to Clear Channel Radio and WMRA, to dozens of local businesses, restaurants, and nonprofits. Vice Mayor Baugh and Councilwoman Frank all attended multiple summits, as have planning commissioners and school board members – adding much value and information to the events.

    Put simply, without the community interest and participation, and the administrative, staff, and programmatic support of the Fairfield Center, and the partners and sponsors, the series would not be possible. The Harrisonburg Summit series is a product of hundreds and hundreds of people taking time out of their schedules to discuss how to support families, create a more sustainable community, build bridges between people of many cultures and religions, promote healthy lifestyles, and grow our local economy.

    Of course, the original summit title and my continued involvement muddy the idea that the events aren’t “the mayor’s summits.” As I won’t be mayor come January, that distinction will obviously become more clear! I look forward to continued work on council the next two years.

    In terms of future summits, Fairfield will remain responsive to the community for future topics and themes.

  2. Kai Degner has been a very innovative mayor who has done an excellent job. I am glad that this change appears to be a friendly matter.

    Richard Baugh is a highly qualified person for this job, and I am confident will continue the good work that Kai has done. My only complaint is that you folks at this blog put up such a serious photo of Richard. He can be quite a jolly fellow. This one makes him look like he is about to spank some naughty official testifying before the Council.

  3. Charles Chenault says:

    Looks like Winston Churchill to me. That is a compliment in my book Richard.
    Thanks – Charlie

  4. Lowell Fulk says:

    Congratulations Richard!

    Notice how the economy shows improvement just at the announcement that Richard Baugh will be the next Mayor of Harrisonburg, Va. Worldwide ramifications I’m tellin’ ya!

  5. JGFitzgerald says:

    First rule of being mayor: Strive to keep a serious, neutral expression on your face at all times.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35907076@N02/5244598176/

  6. Congratulations, Richard! And I think most of us know from firsthand experience: He is not as mean as he looks. ^_^

  7. republitarian says:

    I guess this shows that just about anyone can become mayor of Harrisonburg…..

    just kidding Richard ;O)

  8. Well, I guess a message is being sent. He may be a nice guy, really, but don’t mess wid da new mayuh!

  9. kuato says:

    Thank You Kai!

  10. Jamie Smith says:

    The contrast between Kai’s smiling face and Baugh’s countenance is certainly dramatic. Being mayor will give Baugh many more opportunities to pontificate about chickens, etc. That will be worth tuning in for.

  11. The real message from that photo is that Richard Baugh is making sure that everybody remembers that Black’s Run is nearly as deep as the East River and Lake Michigan,:-).

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