I am a senior financial advisor with First Citizens Investor Services, Inc, based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. I oversee wealth management activities at five branches within the Virginia (Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Salem) and West Virginia (White Sulphur Springs & Lewisburg) market. Educationally, I hold a bachelors and master of business administration from Columbia College and am currently in the second year of a doctoral program in business administration through Johnson & Wales University. Local leadership experience, recently served as president of the Radford Chamber of Commerce (Current Interim President Abram Williams) and I currently serve as a board member of the New River Community College board. Additionally, I serve as the public relations officer for the Harvey Howe Carper American Legion Post 30. I am married to my wife, Loretta and we have three children and three fur-babies.
The city of Radford holds a special place in my heart. Over the past three years, Radford has welcomed my family and me in with open arms and for that, I am forever grateful. I have been fortunate to have served the city of Radford in various roles ranging from President of the Radford Chamber of Commerce to coaching youth soccer and basketball through the Radford Recreation Center. I am a servant leader at heart, so I see the role of city council as the next level of servitude as it allows me to better serve our city and provide leadership in a greater capacity. Radford is an amazing city with the potential to be an even more amazing place to work, live, and raise a family and I am excited to be a potential part of this process.
In my opinion, the top two challenges or opportunities that will fuel Radford’s future success if appropriately addressed is the lack of available single-family homes and continuing our focus on economic development. With regards to increasing the inventory of single-family homes, I would partner with local and regional developers coupled with taking partners within city government to gain a better understanding of potential changes that could be made to zoning ordinances or potential tax incentives to be offered that would create new development and redevelopment opportunities that result in an increase to our single-family home inventory. I would take a similar approach regarding economic development by offering my support to our city manager and economic development director and work collectively to attract new businesses to and expand upon existing businesses within the city of Radford.
I support the tax rate increase in part but not in whole. I support the council taking action to make necessary capital improvements to the aging infrastructure of our schools, my only reservation would be the impact the tax increase will have on the segment of our city who may not be financially able to afford the tax rate increase. Fortunately, the city of Radford has a real estate tax relief program which provides relief for our residents over the age of 65 who meet certain conditions, however, I would be open to exploring the possibility of expanding this program to ensure that we consider what relief if any, that can potentially be offered to more residents.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has shed a bright light on the fact that communities such as the city of Radford have a need for increased internet access given the requirement for our Radford students to continue their education remotely from their respective homes. If elected, my commitment would be to spark conversation and encourage the exploration of the feasibility of increased internet access such as public Wi-Fi. I would approach any potential lack of transportation services within the city in the same capacity. My focus will always be to take partnership will all stakeholders to gain a better understanding of each situation such as potential inequities in services to ensure that we collectively make the most appropriate decision...I am a big believer in the philosophy of measuring twice, cut once!
I have served in leadership roles of great scope and responsibility for over two decades for large and small companies in addition to past experience working with city leadership and economic development either directly or indirectly by serving as a board member on boards that focused on economic development or through my job duties. Additionally, I hold both a bachelors and masters degree in business administration and am currently completing a doctor of business administration degree coupled with two decades of capital and operating budget creation and management experience which I strongly feel will serve me and the city of Radford well as a city council member.
I was born and raised in South Carolina. I attended Clemson University, graduating in 1999 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Following graduation, I moved to Florida to take a job on the Space Coast. After 10 years in Florida, I moved with my daughter to Roanoke to take a job with General Electric
While living in Roanoke, I met Tina Tapp, a Radford High School English teacher. Since she had been raised in Radford, we decided that it would be the best place for our blended family to grow. My daughter and I moved to Radford in 2015.
I believe in the power of representative democracy and collective action. I also believe in serving one’s community. I am motivated to serve by our current Council. Not to halt or undo what they have done, but to further it and build on their accomplishments. I believe that means firstly ensuring that we are providing the services and infrastructure that our citizens need such as after-school programs for our youth and making sure our roads and sidewalks are safe and accessible to all citizens. Secondly I believe that means being a good steward of our city’s finances. Lastly, but no less importantly, I believe that means listening to citizens’ concerns and ensuring that government is open and accessible to all.
One issue that has been brought up to me a number of times while speaking to people during the course of this campaign is a need for jobs. Unfortunately, this is a perennial challenge for City Council with no simple solution. But we need to continue to work to bring employers into Radford and look into ways to help unemployed citizens find and get to jobs. Another challenge that Radford faces is providing local cultural and entertainment opportunities that make Radford an attractive place to live. I support the current Council’s exploration of an amphitheater as a venue and think we should also look into responsible utilization of the New River as an attraction that could bring visitors into Radford.
I support the 2019 property tax increase. In part, it was necessary simply to balance the budget without further dipping into the already depleted reserves. But had the Council chosen to raise only the minimum necessary to balance the budget we would have been right back where we started as soon as loans were needed for the McHarg renovations. I believe the Council acted prudently by enacting a six cent tax increase knowing that a large capital investment was just around the corner. That said, I do realize that for people on fixed incomes, especially retired seniors, this could be difficult to work into their finances. That is why I also support expanding the real estate tax relief program to financially vulnerable citizens.
One of the issues that has been brought to my attention while campaigning is the need for reliable transportation for Radford’s citizens. I think it is critical to ensure that our transit routes are usable for people getting to and from their places of employment. We need transit that works for our entire community.
I think the current coronavirus situation has shown us that internet access cannot reasonably be considered a luxury anymore. Every student at this moment needs to be able to get online to complete schoolwork. And though we expect that the acute need caused by the pandemic will abate, I would be interested in investigating municipal internet service.
While I have never served on a governing body, I have been attending both City Council and School Board meetings frequently over the past couple of years to stay informed on the issues. I believe this will allow me to start with some familiarity with the matters before Council. I believe that my training as an engineer helps me to be a problem solver, and my curiosity and desire to understand leads me to investigate and research a wide variety of issues.
Dick Harshberger is Associate Professor and Director Emeritus of Virginia Tech’s University Leadership Development Program and former director of the Pamplin College of
Business Management Development Center at Virginia Tech. For many years he also served as the primary resource for spokesperson training for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Personnel and Training.
Dick Currently has his own Strategic Planning and Management Development business. He has worked in Europe, Asia ands throughout the United States.
Dick received his Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh, his Master’s in Theatre Arts from Villanova University and his Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from N.C. State University.
Radford City Government has accomplished a great deal over recent years, and is poised to accomplish a great deal more if our present momentum can be maintained. We have an outstanding, hardworking Mayor, City Manager, Council members and employees.
I am proud to be, and want to continue to be, part of the team that has helped the city of Radford overcome the challenges of a lackluster economy, even while losing a major employer and consumer of our services.
Radford is back on top and on the move!
Our reserves are being replenished; our schools are receiving the financial support they need to rebuild and renew their infrastructure. We are benefiting from a rebuilt and reopened hydroelectric dam that is far more efficient than the old version, adding to the revenues of Radford's Electric Department and the city.
I want to continue to help lead Radford to take advantage of our financial strength to realize many of the new and expanded services that our citizens deserve.
The Coronavirus hit us without warning, leaving us with enormous challenges.
Challenge One – Getting all of the recovery funds we are entitled to receive as a City
I am a fiscal conservative, who opposes Federal handouts. However, we aren’t talking “handouts”, we are talking “hand-ups.” I will fight for every dime that can help our City recover and prosper.
At Virginia Tech I once successfully helped our faculty meet Federal guidelines in seeking grants. I will take a “hands on” approach to assist our grant writers in obtaining all recovery funds to which we are entitled.
Challenge Two – Maintaining and accelerating this City’s plans for a better future.
I will help lead our efforts to build a:
o West End Entrance to Bissett Park as an extension of Robertson Street
o Fire Substation on the East end to improve fire safety.
o Develop our riverfront to include commercial and research pods, allowing us to take commercial advantage of our riverfront without harming its natural beauty.
Given the aged infrastructure of our schools (with the exception of Belle Heth), it was imperative that we not delay the full renovation of McHarg School. knowing that Dalton and the High School will surely not be far behind.
if we are to obtain low interest bearing loans to finance these investments for the future of our children, we must be able to demonstrate to our borrowing sources that we have both the ability and the will to maintain a strong revenue base. The tax increase allowed us to increase our revenue stream, dedicate needed money for our schools and obtain low financing rates.
I helped see that 4 cents of the 6 cent increase was earmarked for the schools. Even with the 6 cent increase, Radford still has the lowest property tax rates in the New River Valley.
o There is no doubt that internet access is something that Radford has struggled with for a long time, but we see some light at the end of the tunnel. Through a grant, Radford and Montgomery County have entered into a partnership to assess these inequities and propose solutions for dealing with them. I will push for the implementation of these solutions.
o I was a strong proponent for the Radford Transit and worked closely with President Kyle of Radford University to make it a reality. While ridership of the University has fallen a little recently, City citizen ridership continues to increase. Council and the transit system operators are, I’m sure, tired of my repeated pleas for more neighborhood penetration and though I know it is difficult to implement due to schedule demands, I will continue to advocate for it!
On Council, I have served on some 10 different Boards and Commissions. I currently perform a leadership role on 4 of them. I am a tenured Associate Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech. I served as Director of the Pamplin College Management Development Center, and as Director of the University Leadership Development Program. I currently train executives and managers in: Leadership Development, Strategic Planning, Leading and Managing Change, Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution, Problem Solving/Decision Making, Team Building, Project Management and Motivating volunteers and employees. I have facilitated over 100 strategic planning retreats for business, industry, government and professional associations. As a sitting Council member, I can tell you that all of these skills are useful in the course of conducting City business!
I've called Radford home for 10 years now, by far the longest I've ever lived in one place. I was raised in a military family and grew up in a number of states across the U.S.—but nowhere has been home like Radford has been! I’ve worked for HeartCry Missionary Society, a Christian non-profit, for more than 9 years as a data administrator and editor. My wife Tatiana and I got married in Radford in June 2019. We own a home on the east end and attend church at Christ Church – Radford. We truly love living in the New River City and plan to raise our family here! In 2019, never having run for office before, I saw a need and decided to run for the Virginia House of Delegates (12th District), falling short by about 7 percent. Earlier this year, I once again saw a need. After much prayer and many requests from Radford citizens (and the encouragement of my wife), I decided now was the right time for me to run for Radford City Council. I hope to be able to serve my neighbors well as councilman.
Service has always been a very important part of my life—my Dad is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, my wife is a former police officer and still works with law enforcement at Radford University, and I've spent my entire adult life working for a Christian non-profit. Now I want to take that attitude of service to the city council: I want to serve my neighbors and my community. I've considered stepping up in this way for a while, and my wife and I feel there's no better time than now. Radford has been good to me this past decade; I want to do my part to ensure that it continues to thrive.
If elected, a great deal of my focus would be on economic development and being cautious with the city's spending. Radford is a wonderful city, and we're in a great position to move forward well—as long as we're prudent with our revenue. We must continue to advance and progress, but we have to be careful about it, not spending money we don't have on things we don't need. Overspending or overtaxing would prove harmful to our local economy, thereby inhibiting our progress as a city.
While well-intentioned, I do not believe a tax increase of that level was the best course of action for the people of Radford. I would have preferred to see money saved from making more economic choices on local projects (lowering those costs) and increasing revenue streams wherever else possible before increasing the tax burden on citizens.
As councilman, my door would always be open to talk with anyone who has a concern. I would have a policy of transparency and accessibility, taking care to address each issue and to explain every notable vote I take at council meetings. I believe that listening to the public—to my neighbors—is vital in serving them well and addressing their needs.
As an editor and data administrator, words and numbers are a key part of my daily life. I believe that experience would prove extremely beneficial on the city council. As councilman, I would bring that same attention to detail to every meeting and every vote—carefully checking that the numbers add up and that the verbiage is just right for the benefit of our community and paying attention to the important "little things" (like our trash site and our city roads).