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Four seats on Galax City Council are up for re-election this year, with five candidates contesting to fill them.
C.M. Mitchell is vying for another opportunity to serve on the council. If elected again in May, this will be his eighth term.
Mitchell was first elected to council in 1986. He was chosen as mayor in 1992 and has served in that capacity ever since. Galax City Council appoints a mayor and vice mayor from among its members.
“It has been my honor and pleasure to serve the city and our constituents for those years,” he told The Gazette.
With experience owning a small business, and an extensive career in pharmacy, Mitchell feels that he has had a good opportunity to get to know his community.
Today, he is the service director of the pharmacy at Twin County Regional Hospital, a position he has held since 1998.
Mitchell told The Gazette that he sees his position with city council as an opportunity to give back to the city. “Everyone has been really good to me and my family… hopefully the work that we as council do makes it a better place to live.”
He not only commended the team he works with within the city limits, but he also extended credit to the surrounding counties for their teamwork over the years.
“One of the highlights of my entire public career has been the cooperative work that we have been able to do with the adjoining counties. That has paid great dividends to the city as well as to the counties,” he said.
He mentioned several examples from those regional efforts, including Crossroads Institute, a facility that serves as a business incubator and a resource for continuing education. He noted that his opportunity to serve on the Crossroads board has allowed him to see the growth of these new businesses and college degree opportunities first-hand.
The Wildwood regional commerce park project was a second example, and one that Mitchell hopes to see move forward soon. “That would really give our economy a huge boost,” he said.
When asked what he believes one of the biggest issues of importance is for improving the city, his answer came quickly: job creation. “In the last several years, we have been focusing on reengineering our economy. I think going forward, work force development will be a very important thing to accomplish.”
To do that, Mitchell believes that it’s best to start at the beginning, by offering a solid educational foundation for students to build upon. To help ensure that for the community’s youth, the city has worked with the Galax school system, the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School and Crossroads Institute to offer students a variety of resources so that they can not only receive their educations without having to leave their hometowns, but put their knowledge back into the community with the job opportunities that are expanding in this region.
Mitchell stressed that the progress made over the last four years has been a team effort, and thanked the other council members. “We have been so blessed over the years to have a group of people that are willing to serve on the city council, that are truly dedicated to the community and to making the city better. The folks that have served on council have made my job as mayor much easier than it could have been.”
He also noted that council members always need input from the community, and are always willing to listen. “Getting to know folks [through my career] makes for a good relationship, and I hope that it makes it easier and more comfortable to approach me and voice their concerns or their friendly community,” he said.
“People do appreciate the things that have been accomplished, and we just continue to work to make all of those things better for everyone.”
Elections will be held on May 6.