Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire: Mary Katherine Greenlaw
Richard Dynes and Mary Katherine Greenlaw are running for mayor in Fredericksburg’s May 3, 2016, election.
Fredericksburg Today asked the two candidates to respond to a brief candidate questionnaire.
Candidate Richard Dynes’ responses are available at Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire: Richard Dynes.
Candidate Mary Katherine Greenlaw’s unedited responses follow.
Why are you running for Mayor?
I am running for Mayor because Fredericksburg has much going for it right now and I want to keep the ball rolling. We have our challenges but we have a good council, who work well together, and we can address these. We are prepared to meet and to design our future in a way that will preserve that which makes Fredericksburg unique and still allows us to grow economically. We have active and prosperous small businesses and entrepreneurs, a skilled work force, a dynamic downtown and arts community and neighborhoods with character and diversity.
We have a great riverfront and one of the nation’s busiest road frontages. We need to market our I-95 corridor for office parks and technology zones. We can develop that area without adversely impacting our neighborhoods and our historic downtown.
We have hired a new City Manager and will have a new director of Economic Development; we have also recently hired a new director of Parks and Rec and other significant new staff. I think continuity in the council will be important and helpful to our new administrators. I am looking forward to working with our new manager who shares my vision of Fredericksburg’s future.
In our city manager form of government, the Mayor’s role is primarily to build consensus and assist the council in forming the vision for the manager and his staff. To do so, the mayor must encourage a dialogue not only among the councilors but also with our citizens, so that all points of view are respected and considered. This is my commitment.
What do you believe are the five most pressing issues facing the city?
There are very limited sites in the city large enough to accommodate a parking garage. However, we are exploring some of them and have made offers to purchase.
Council’s strategy is to acquire or lease small surface lots throughout downtown that would provide closer parking to more businesses. Example: The new lot under construction at Amelia and Charles Streets.
We also are working with developers downtown to do cost-sharing for new parking facilities. This is the strategy for all new development where possible. Example: The new parking garage at the Liberty Place on William St.
Growth and new development:
The important consideration for the city council in assessing development projects is protecting Fredericksburg’s unique quality of life while allowing it to grow and prosper economically. We have excellent resources to assist in doing this, in our historic district, and in our corridor overlays. We need to use them well.
We have a great opportunity in our I95 corridor. When one drives along I-95 within city limits now, all you see is the backs of buildings and undeveloped land. That is where office parks and technology parks should be. I will work to achieve this.
Transportation is always a top concern when folks speak of issues, but it is a regional, state and federal matter. However, the city has worked to build connector roads, like Cowan Boulevard and to improve our internal transportation with road improvements like the Fall Hill Ave expansion and new I95 bridge. We will continue to utilize VDOT and gas tax monies to improve walkability and bikability. It is a huge asset to a city to recognize that trails and bike paths are essential parts of transportation. We support PRTC, the regional rail authority with full participation by our council member delegates. We are active members of FAMPO as well, promoting improvements to this area like the Rappahannock River Crossing.
Stay ahead of growth in schools:
There is a balancing act between new residential development and meeting the needs of the schools. We have projected funding to build a new elementary school five years from now. We are fortunate that previous councils have built in future capacity in most of our schools. We are currently renovating original Walker Grant to improve our facilities for our most important early learners. Our strong AA+ bond rating positions us to be able to borrow money at low interest rates for our future needs. I will work with the school board as they adapt to changing needs in education and workforce readiness.
Assist new and existing businesses – improve process:
Our technology and tourism and arts and cultural zones allow council to be flexible in providing incentives to new and existing business. We need to extend our assistance to these folks and can do so in several ways. We need to help them find access to capital, short term leases and assist with a structure to test ideas, like pop-up shops. We can offer an ombudsman to help entrepreneurs navigate through the many processes a new business has to maneuver. Our director of business development is doing some of that now and his position can be expanded.
Please provide a brief biography (100 words maximum), to include your current or previous civic service, education, and occupation.
A Fredericksburg native, Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw has been active in numerous city and regional civic endeavors for many years. She served on the Fredericksburg Planning Commission for eight years and the City Council for four years, prior to being elected Mayor in 2012.
Mayor Greenlaw formerly represented the City on the George Washington Regional Commission, FAMPO, the Rappahannock Juvenile Detention Facility, and the Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging.
A former Chair of MediCorp Health System, she currently serves on the board of the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation. Mayor Greenlaw represents the City on the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance. She is also a former board member of the Thurman Brisben Center and a founding member of the Fredericksburg Festival of the Arts.
Mary Greenlaw’s career experience includes owning the Houston School of Dance and teaching in the Fredericksburg and Prince William County Schools. She and her late husband Wilson Greenlaw, owned and operated Park Farm and Greenlaw’s Beef in Stafford County. She is retired from Thalhimer/Cushman Wakefield, formally in commercial real estate as a landlord representative and an investment sales broker.
Her avocation is dance and she is a member of the Sacred Dance Ensemble of Fredericksburg.
Mary Greenlaw’s honors include Volunteer of the Year by the Pratt Mental Health Association, serving on the USS Chancellorsville Commissioning Committee, being named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council and the Prince B. Woodard Leadership Award from the Fredericksburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and The People’s Choice Award in the Dancing with the Stars charity event.
Mayor Greenlaw is the proud parent of four sons and seven grandchildren.
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