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W&M student becomes first to serve on City Council

  • Scott Foster '10
    Scott Foster '10  Scott Foster was the first student to ever be elected to the Williamsburg City Council.  Photo by Rachel E. Wallace
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Scott Foster '10 may have trouble concentrating on one of last exams of his senior year this morning after successfully passing a much different kind of test Tuesday night.

Foster was elected to the Williamsburg City Council on Tuesday night, becoming the first William & Mary student ever to do so. The 22-year-old said his win was a victory for town and gown relationships.
"Today, the people of Williamsburg demonstrated that our city is truly unified," Foster said Tuesday night. "When I decided to run for City Council, I hoped to receive the student vote. Now, I have been additionally honored and humbled to have received such strong support from across our City."

Foster received 1559 votes in the election, 741 more votes than the next finisher, Planning Commission Chairman Doug Pons, who also earned a seat on the council Tuesday night. Five candidates, including one incumbent, ran for the two open positions. According to Foster's campaign, approximately 67 percent of his votes came from students and the remaining votes came from residents.

"This is not just a victory for me," said Foster, a government major who is scheduled to graduate later this month . "This is a victory for Williamsburg, a victory for the William and Mary community, and a triumph for town-gown relations. I look forward to being a strong voice for the entire community over the next four years."

The election is an historic event for the College and the Williamsburg community, William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said Tuesday night.

"This is a significant moment in our life together in Williamsburg," he said. "The College is a vibrant and vital part of the City. In my view, it's important to have a graduating W&M senior join the Council, especially one with the civility and good sense that Scott Foster brings to the table. I offer my hearty congratulations to Scott as well to Doug Pons.  I look forward to working with both of them.

Foster benefited from a coordinated get-out-the-vote campaign by William & Mary students. Earlier this year, student organizations, including the Student Assembly, worked to encourage students to vote in the election through a series of registration efforts. Approximately 300 students registered this year as a result of the drive. More than 2,100 students are registered to vote in the City of Williamsburg and early estimates indicate that roughly 50 percent of registered students voted in Tuesday's election.

On election day, the Student Assembly provided transportation for students between the Sadler Center and the Stryker Building voting location. Sarah Rojas ‘10, outgoing president of the assembly, also sent an e-mail to the College's students, encouraging them to vote in the election.

While it's not unheard of for students to be elected to city council seats in university towns, "it's pretty unusual," said John McGlennon, chair of the government department and political scholar.

"Students were elected to city council in Madison, Wisconsin in the late 60s or early 70s for the first time, I think Berkeley has had some student representatives, but it's rare for William & Mary to be mentioned in the same breath politically as those two cities," said McGlennon, who also serves on the James City County Board of Supervisors.

Much of Foster's campaign was run by students who utilized a website and social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. Foster also spent a good deal of time meeting city residents.

"This unexpected, but welcome, outcome is the product of five months of hard work and dedication from dozens of volunteers and supporters throughout the campus and city," said Foster.

Foster, who is originally from Highland County, Va., is majoring in government at the College.

He also serves as senior co-chair of student conduct council at William & Mary. He will graduate next week and plans on attending the William & Mary Law School in 2011.