DAAV Spotlight: Meet Manassas Park City Councilmember Jeanette Rishell
This month, DAAV spotlights Jeanette Rishell, a current councilmember for the City of Manassas Park. Prior to her election in 2012, she was also a candidate for the VA House of Delegates. As a city councilmember, Ms. Rishell has successfully lobbied for funding for a VDOT study to determine cost effective improvements to Route 28 in order to reduce congestion on that important corridor. She has also been a strong voice for holding the line on spending in Manassas Park and focusing efforts to pay down the City’s existing heavy debt level.
Ms. Rishell attributes her passion for public service to her Filipino American extended family, who taught her the important value of contributing to her community. DAAV recently caught up with her to learn more about her accomplishments as a proactive advocate for the City of Manassas Park.
What are some of your daily duties as an elected city council woman?
It is an honor to serve on the Governing Body of my growing City. My personal philosophy is to represent and serve, equally, all the residents of Manassas Park regardless of party affiliation or any demographic difference. I also represent my City as its sitting member on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and a number of NVTA committees; also on behalf of Manassas Park, I sit on the Board of Directors of the Upper Occoquan Service Authority. All of this is a very good fit for me since I have always been interested in infrastructure.
What is something that you wish you knew before you entered office to do your job well?
I think there is a general need for greater familiarity with details such as zoning, in-depth information about bonding, the relationship between state and localities, and other similar items. All elected officials have a learning curve of some sort after assuming office, but it would be great to increase the amount of general knowledge before taking office. Although I had candidate training from numerous entities including the Sorensen Institute, these focused primarily on campaigning.
What does leadership in public service mean to you?
Leadership in public service is about balance. An official must represent the will of the people, yet not be afraid to deviate from public opinion when ethical beliefs and the facts point to another opinion or to a different resolution to a problem. Leadership is how well one balances this and advances our shared democratic values. Each official finds their own path to balance. In the end, you cannot be afraid to lose an election because you have taken what you truly believe to be an ethical and truthful position.
What do you hope to accomplish in your role in the year ahead?
I hope to continue working on issues that will make life better for residents in Manassas Park. This would include: economic development in order to increase revenue coming into the City that would enable us to lower resident taxes; strong schools so our young people will have greater advantages and opportunities when they enter the wider world; continue my work on the NVTA which we all hope will significantly alleviate the congestion that we face in the Northern Virginia Region thereby reducing the time spent commuting and result in more family time; and continue my focus on the City’s excellent public safety record and our ongoing efforts to improve City infrastructure.
Jeanette currently resides in Manassas Park. Learn more about her efforts for the city council here. This is the third feature in a series highlighting Virginia’s Asian Americans in elected office. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news and updates from DAAV!