The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our community and our way of life. And while this crisis has provided numerous challenges, the City of Winchester has come together as a community to support its neighbors as well as its businesses.

Winchester will need experienced leadership to sustain itself through the pandemic response and ultimately rebuild once the situation is under control. I believe that I am the right person to work with our city departments, neighborhood resources, regional partners, and the state to provide safety and support to families during the pandemic response as well as through recovery and rebuilding.

Safety.

I am on calls regularly, engaging with regional, state, and federal representatives to keep abreast of the latest news on the pandemic and how to best assist our community.

The city, its teams, and I are following the experts’ guidelines and are making every effort to find new ways to keep our citizens safe during this pandemic and beyond.

We work closely with Valley Health Systems, the Virginia Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control to get information to you in an accurate and timely manner.

I have been working with the Emergency Management Team and Public Safety to provide businesses with re-opening guidance and support while implementing public safety compliance as necessary.

IMG_4920

Recovery.

I understand that local businesses are suffering. I am working with state and federal representatives to provide training and assistance for those in need of help navigating loan and grant applications.

I’ve asked city agencies, departments, and local partners to be creative in providing relief, extensions and new opportunities for financial assistance for residents, local businesses, and nonprofits.

Families have become more dependent on food banks. In partnership with Sysco, we created the Winchester Pop-Up Market to provide a way for families to conveniently purchase and safely pick-up food and supplies.

The city staff and I have worked with The Winchester Rescue Mission and Shenandoah University to provide additional shelter for the homeless through this pandemic response.

Rebuilding.

As we look to rebuild our community, we are finding new challenges along with great partners.

Before COVID-19, the City of Winchester had an unemployment rate of 2.6% (down 0.5% from 2018). Now, many of our neighbors have lost their jobs. Some businesses will downsize or be forced to close.

As part of the critical rebuilding process from the COVID-19 pandemic, I plan to continue working with local, state, and federal agencies as well as local partners to:

  • Continue to assist with loans and grants for small businesses.
  • Provide funds for nonprofit organizations that are directly assisting the community by using a “Needs Assessment” process to confirm eligibility.
  • Provide funding to Social Services and Parks and Recreation to fund child care programs, like the HIVE program, to help parents that can’t stay at home with their children.
  • Assist our homeless and our most vulnerable populations in obtaining medical and long term assistance.
  • Rebuild public confidence in Winchester by:
    • communicating protocols from various agencies regarding sanitation requirements and operational changes
    • ensuring businesses have the necessary support and guidance from city agencies and public health
    • ensuring the city’s communication channels (traditional and digital) are up to date in providing the latest, most accurate information regarding post-pandemic progress

Managing a pandemic response during my first term as Mayor of Winchester was unforeseen. Sometimes my days don’t end until very late in the evening. I do my best to try to find solutions for folks before going to bed. But, when I can’t find an answer by the end of the day, I know what I’ll be working on when I wake up.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought hardship and uncertainty to our doorstep. It’s an unexpected challenge that has inspired new partnerships, camaraderie, and innovation within our community. Based on what we know and what we learn each day, it’s time to work together to rebuild our city.