On behalf of Albemarle County, I am pleased to welcome you today and express our appreciation at being the host jurisdiction for the 2017 VACo County Officials Summit.
My welcoming comments this morning were challenging to write given the local, state and national environment – while we are delighted to have you in our midst, we remain deeply saddened and distressed by the recent events in our locality. It is important that I begin my remarks with a clear and unequivocal statement that our community forcefully rejects the recent acts of violence and intolerance caused by ignorance, bigotry and hatred. I hope you have seen in our community’s response over the past week those actions do not represent who we are or what we are like in any way. That being said, it is not hyperbole to say we are forever changed.
In the face of these realities, there could be no better place than this very community and no better time than right now to gather as local government colleagues to discuss the challenges and opportunities for meaningful positive leadership in the communities we all love. Public service as a vocation and a practice has never been more important than it is right now, and the local government arena is where many of the most critical issues are being addressed.
As county leaders, we have to be very concerned as we see how unimaginable events continue to play out in communities, and as we consider how we should prepare and when and how we should respond. So, even as each of us grapple with how we process these distressing recent events, as public service leaders we must remain totally focused on providing the services that keep our communities moving forward and supporting the employees that are working hard each and every day.
I would like to close by thanking you, as representatives of your communities, for the many words and gestures of support and comfort that have come our way both officially and unofficially – it has meant a tremendous amount to all of us. I would also like to thank you for your dedication to serving the public. Now, more than ever, we need caring, compassionate, principled people leading and managing our communities in partnership with our citizens. And lastly, I thank you for coming here to this conference, in this place, at this moment, to assert the power of partnership, unity and positive purpose. This is how we make a difference at a critical moment in our collective history.
Good luck with the rest of your conference, and enjoy your stay in Albemarle County.