Democratic contender for New Hope mayor Donna Deely lives on North Main Street with Amy, her partner of 17 years, and their Lakeland Terrier, Dudley. She graduated from Marymount College of Virginia with a BA in communications and a minor in commercial art.
In her spare time she loves golf, along with cooking, painting, and making home furnishings from recovered pieces of aged local wood.
Deely moved to New Hope a little over two years ago from Old Town Alexandria, VA where she was born. “I guess I have something for river towns,” she said.
Recalls Deely, “Within our first two weeks here, we were evacuated twice. I thought there could have been better communication with the residents — we didn’t know what was going on — and since I have emergency planning in my background, I thought that maybe some of the skills I brought from Columbia and Arlington counties could be useful because there’s an opportunity here to improve. For example, if you a know a storm is coming that has potentially damaging wind and rain, there’s an opportunity to get the message out there to check your batteries, make sure your phone is charged, and make sure that you have water — that kind of thing.”
Continued Deely, “I have a facilities background that includes emergency management, but that’s only part of why I wanted to run. On a broader scale, I would like to do something similar to the ‘resident service requests’ I started in Arlington, where you can report that lights are out or a tree limb is down on the town website. It allows the borough to communicate more efficiently and effectively with the residents, and you can track and trend issues. In Arlington County, it streamlined the process,” added Deely.
“I’ve also mocked up a ‘mayor’s web page’ for the borough website where I’ve listed community initiatives, like ways to reuse and recycle, and new ways to tap into the enormous talent we have right here in New Hope. We can also highlight weekly events and major issues. It’s another way to improve our communication with residents.”
And how does Deely feel about potentially taking on the responsibility of administering the borough’s police force?
“I’ve been around law enforcement all my life,” she said. “My brother is a deputy chief, and Amy is a retired assistant director of the F.B.I., so it’s something I’m accustomed to. Chief Cummings is a great guy. He’s been very open and helpful, and we’ve sat down a couple of times and and we’ve talked about the emergency planning he’s doing. I think he would be easy to work with.”
What does Deely think she can bring to the job?
“I would be a full-time mayor. I think I bring a lot of energy, and I think I have a lot of transferable skills. So, some of the things I would like to do are improve communications, whether emergency-related or just day to day through the website and the service request system, and work with the businesses downtown.
“You know, New Hope is a charming, quirky town that we absolutely love. I read an article the other day that said it was ‘Mayberry meets the Village,’ and I thought that just captured it. But we have 17 vacant stores…I’d like to see those filled, obviously. We have some ideas to utilize them while they’re vacant, and to revisit smart meters, and revisit a shuttle service on weekends,” she added.
Deely recognizes the benefit of a thriving business community, and further, “We’d like to see businesses that balance the needs of residents and tourists. We moved here so we could walk into town. We wanted the sense of community that New Hope has. We think it’s important to have things downtown that draw not just tourists, but residents. It’s a great little town; it just needs a little shot in the arm to get some of these stores and restaurants back on their feet.
“As a mayor, I’ll be engaged…not just waiting to be asked to participate, but being more proactive. I’ll work with Borough Council to help bring forth initiatives like creating a dog park, or using smart technology that utilizes current meters to eliminate the need for quarters, and actually increases revenue.”
Observes Deely, “It’s the reason we chose to settle here: New Hope is stunningly beautiful, and we can walk into town, we can walk across the bridge, we can enjoy the river. It’s the best of everything.”
I asked her how she would like people to recall a potential Deely term or two as mayor of New Hope:
“I hope people would say they’re proud of how I represented the town and that I made it it a better place to live. I don’t think I can ask for more than that. If I can make this a better place than the day I moved here, then I think that would be great. I’m willing to work as hard as I possibly can to be a good ambassador for this town, and to share its quirky charm with everyone. It’s just a special place.”