Afton resident and former Nelson County School Board member Mary Cunningham has announced her intentions to run for the North District Board of Supervisors seat this November.
Cunningham, who is running as a Democrat, is hoping to unseat incumbent North District Supervisor Tommy Harvey who has served on the board since 1984. She said she feels capable of doing the job and bringing new ideas to the seat.
“Mr. Harvey has had that seat for somewhere around 30 years and I just think time’s up,” Cunningham said in a March 26 phone interview.
Cunningham said she plans to focus her efforts on building the community in the North District — or rebuilding the sense of community lost by the COVID-19 pandemic — if elected.
Her priorities include issues surrounding continued support for schools despite dropping enrollment and a lack of affordable housing in the county, and, by extension, an area that has become increasingly dominated by vocational housing like Airbnb.
Cunningham said she also wants to see the county’s comprehensive plan — a blueprint for future development that is due for an overhaul — redone and the Rockfish Valley Area Plan updated and folded into the larger document.
“I want to see the comprehensive plan be redone and the Rockfish valley area plan incorporated into it so that Afton and the Rockfish valley is a place where there really is a community that lives here instead of it turning into an Airbnb community which is quickly what’s happening,” Cunningham said.
A resident of Nelson for 24 years and foster parent, Cunningham previously served a term on the school board from 2009 to 2013, is serving a second term as a board member of the Rockfish Valley Community Center, has participated on advisory boards and has made other contributions to the community.
She has experience working in pharmaceutical research and development, financial planning and currently writes for the Crozet Gazette, a monthly newspaper serving western Albemarle County, she said.
Before moving to Nelson County, Cunningham graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Wharton school of business at the University of Pennsylvania followed by a master’s in Adult Training and Development from St. Joseph’s University, also in Pennsylvania, according to a March 22 Facebook post where the Afton resident original announced her candidacy.
Cunningham said through her different experiences she can facilitate people working together on solving issues facing the community.
“I think one of the best skills that I bring is being able to bring people together,” Cunningham said.
County Registrar Jacqueline Britt said the deadline to file is June 8.