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A childhood filled with bike rides through Colonial Williamsburg, kite-flying at Casey’s Field and theater outings to Phi Beta Kappa Hall has long inspired Greg Granger to make sure Williamsburg fills children with fond memories for generations to come.
After years of community service through groups like the Williamsburg Jaycees, Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Land Conservancy, he is looking to give back to his community as a member of City Council. Granger, 50, is one of five people vying for three seats.
Granger, who now owns both the WMBG radio station and WMBG Rentals, never doubted he would move back to Williamsburg after graduating for Catawba College in 1989, even telling his college sweetheart – and future wife – a few weeks into dating that he knew he would move back to Williamsburg after graduation.
“I told her, ‘I don’t know where this is going, but I’m going back to Williamsburg and I need to know how you feel about that,” Granger said. “… When she said she liked Williamsburg, I said, ‘OK, great. Let’s go out again tomorrow.’”
Though he had no idea how he would make a living in Williamsburg, he knew he could create a good life for himself and his family – and that is the climate he wants to protect as a City Council member.
“Not everybody is going to be the owner of a Fortune 500 company, but you can make a great living and you can give your kids a great place to grow up,” Granger said.
If elected, Granger wants to advance the city’s sports tourism efforts, bring a new vitality to the business community and improve student housing options.
Regarding sports tourism, Granger said he thinks the city needs to start with committing to the pursuit of a new venue for the region, regardless of whether that venue ends up in the city. In the end, he said, the parents and athletes will be eating in city restaurants, staying in city hotels and enjoying the city’s attractions.
As those families visit the city for their tournaments, Granger would like them to see fewer commercial vacancies along Richmond Road than currently exist, starting with the Williamsburg Shopping Center at the intersection of Monticello Avenue and Richmond Road.
Granger said he believes City Council can be more reasonable and inviting in its ordinances to attract and recruit different kinds of businesses to the city, including think tanks and other research-based businesses, while continuing to support the tourism industry.
In its support of the tourism industry, Granger said he wants the city to be mindful of the hospitality workers who are often unable to live in the city because of a limited stock of housing in price ranges they can afford.
Addressing the city’s housing issue starts with addressing student housing, Granger said, because the increasing trend to live off-campus hurts the ability of low-income families, young professionals and older people looking to downsize to relocate to Williamsburg.
“We can’t keep looking at it as a college problem. If the students can’t find a place to live on campus, they will find a place to live off-campus, and that’s going to trickle down into workforce housing. That’s a problem for everyone in the city, not just up near the college.” Granger said.
Granger would like to see the city work with the College of William & Mary to address both parking and housing for students, and said he would be able to have those “tough, but necessary” conversations with the college because he is the one candidate who “has not and likely will not get a degree or a paycheck” from the college.
In Granger’s mind, his run for council has been a long time coming. From president of his class at Lafayette High School to president of the Williamsburg Jaycees, Granger has always been active in leadership, largely out of a passion for the community’s well-being.
But as the child of a former City of Williamsburg mayor, Granger is well aware of the pros and cons to serving on council. Though he was hesitant to commit the time when his three kids were small, Granger’s children now range in age from 16 to 20.
“To be candid, it’s always been an inner struggle. When they were younger and wanted the time with me, I did my best to be available for them and have a good balance with the civic involvement,” Granger said. “Now that they’re older, I’ve got some time. I can make this work now.”
While his three kids were the reason he did not run for council until now, they are also his motivation to seek a seat now: He wants every child who grows up in the city to have the positive experience he and his children enjoyed.
“Without a doubt, Williamsburg is wonderful,” he said. “Without a doubt, Williamsburg could be more wonderful. I don’t have any special hidden agenda. I’m just a guy who loves my town who is willing to serve.”