GLADE SPRING, Va. — Glade Spring elected a female mayor last week, likely making her the first woman to hold the position in the history of the town.
The historic first is a good indication that the townspeople are ready for a change, according to newly elected mayor Leighann Graham Lloyd.
“I heard fireworks were even set off the night I won. It’s crazy. I’m really excited about my new role in town,” she said.
In the mayoral race, Lloyd received 63.91 percent of the votes, or 317 votes, winning out over incumbent Tony Rector by 141 votes.
Lloyd said she feels honored to be the first woman elected as mayor in the town, as far as records show.
“It’s also a little daunting,” she said with a smile.
“I believe it’s an opportunity for me to show what a woman in leadership is capable of and to be an example to other women in the area.
“I truly want to be the best example I can be — especially for my daughter,” said Lloyd, who, along with husband Matthew Lloyd, has a 2-year-old daughter, Elizabeth.
Lloyd described her motivation to run for office in her hometown as something similar to “personal grit.”
“It’s been a goal of mine since I was in high school to continually push myself, and sometimes that means it’s outside of my comfort zone. In high school, I was shy and quiet and hated public speaking. I credit people in my life — my family, my community and church family — for giving me the confidence to run for office,” Lloyd said.
“My dad thought I was crazy for running for mayor, but my parents are very proud of me.”
In the Glade Spring council race, Kim Sweat, Steven White and Monte Ward won three open seats.
The newly elected town council members agreed that new leadership will help bring unity to Glade Spring, an ingredient, they say, that has been missing in the town.
“I’m really happy for the four of us, but I’m really excited for the town,” said White. “Towns all around us have been growing and moving forward, and Glade Spring has been spinning its wheels.”
Sweat agreed. “I’m pleased with the results. I’m looking forward to spending the next four years working with our team members and hopefully having unity in our council room.”
“I’m looking forward to working with other members of the council to improve our town and push it forward to the next level,” added Ward. “We want to get unity back into the town — not division.
“The winds of change are blowing.”
Anything is possible
Lloyd, 30, a native of Glade Spring, graduated from Patrick Henry High School in 2006. In 2010, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish with teacher preparation from Emory & Henry College. Following a short stint as a Spanish teacher in area schools, Lloyd became a stay-at-home mother and works part time at the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia.
“My education taught me to do the things I never thought I could do. Just because I have a degree in Spanish doesn’t mean that’s where I have to stop,” she said.
Lloyd and her husband began volunteering with projects in the town shortly after they married in 2009. Matthew served on the Glade Spring Town Council in 2012.
“It just seemed like there was so much momentum with the revitalization efforts during that time,” Lloyd said. “The development of the Salt Trail and the new farmers market were on the table, but when our last leadership took over, that all seemed to change. Some projects came to a complete halt or fell by the wayside. Businesses started to struggle, and some of them left the town square.”
A plan of action
As mayor, Lloyd’s plan is to breathe new life into the town, encouraging citizens to stay active and involved in the community.
“I’d like to see the community come together again, helping each other out in whatever small or big ways that may mean,” she said.
When Lloyd’s term begins in January 2019, one of her first agenda items is the revitalization of the playground at the Glade Spring Community Center.
Wood deterioration and neglectful upkeep have caused the playground equipment to decline throughout the years, putting children at risk for injuries, she said.
“I’ve already done research on grants we can apply for to help us get new playground equipment. The one we have is in poor shape and needs to be replaced. I realize people are not renting our community center due to their frustrations with the playground.”
Lloyd also expressed wanting to rebuild the town’s police department after recent controversies have cost the department some of its members.
“Alan Morgan, the town’s police sergeant, has informed me there are two part-time officers being hired,” Lloyd said.
“I plan to work with town council members to provide around-the-clock police coverage,” she continued. “I want to build stronger relationships with the Glade Spring Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service agencies, as well as local churches, organizations and businesses. In addition, I would like to enhance the lighting and conditions for walking the town’s streets.
“There are many wonderful qualities, businesses and organizations in our town. Sadly, resources are not being used to highlight, improve and assist to the degree they could. Glade Spring and its citizens have been underappreciated, and I want to change that opinion.”