Should all Hopewell officials be required to live in the city?

This article in the Progress-Index on Wednesday morning raises an issue that is re-arising in Hopewell, but has been at issue in many localities, including Prince George.

Should all Hopewell officials be required to live in the city? – News – The Progress-Index – Petersburg, VA.

The article lays out some of the arguments on both sides and all may have some merit. For many localities which are rural and distant from nearby populations centers which might serve as pools for recruitment, it has always been a thistle of concern.

In this case Hopewell is a small urban center of much less than 20 square miles and a population of  33,000 people.  It is within a thirty to forty minute drive of large population areas so it has reasonable access to skilled individuals to fill city positions, unless the person(s) is required to live in the city.

Some recent discussion with folks who are moving out of the city cite the lack of available quality housing options, the struggling school system, and the lack of cultural, dining, and shopping options. This all before the issues of crime and the general deteriorating commercial and residential base of the city.  The alternate positives are the history of the city, the Library System, and the access to the James and the Appomattox Rivers.

The reality is that Hopewell, like many localities, (Prince George included) does not have its own pool of highly qualified people to fill professional positions.  It must turn to professionals and skilled labor from other nearby localities to fill these important roles. Requiring them to relocate to Hopewell might require them to uproot a working spouse who may have residency or commuting issues that come into play, uprooting children from their familiar school systems, and may require that the employee move his or her family  into housing stock not up to the standards to which they are accustomed.

Xena’s opinion.  Residency requirements for pubic positions are antiquated and out of touch.  It is reasonable to factor that issue into the hiring decision, require modifications to work hours or required commuting time to the locality, and to make exceptions for certain types of law enforcement, public safety, or other similar types of positions, unless the candidate can make some reasonable accommodations to relieve this concern on the part of the locality.

What do you think?  Leave a comment.


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