Members of the Williamsburg community gathered Tuesday at the historic Courthouse of 1770 for the swearing-in ceremony for two City Councilmen.
D. Scott Foster Jr. and Douglas Pons were sworn into their second terms by Judge Michael McGinty, presiding judge of the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court. Foster and Pons ran unopposed in the April city council election.
The ceremony drew upon colonial judicial practice and royal tradition. Tom Hay, sergeant of the City Hustings Court, called the event to order with an authentic oration. Colonial Williamsburg representatives introduced the Mace of the City of Williamsburg, a silver and gold staff dating from the 1750s and likely brought to Virginia by Gov. Robert Dinwiddie in 1751.
The location of the ceremony also added a historic flair. Constructed from 1770-71, the courthouse hosted the meetings of Williamsburg’s colonial mayors and council members. The Williamsburg Court of Hustings, and James City County courts also heard cases at the building.
“In some ways, this is American history writ on the local level,” Hay said.
Pons said the location was appropriate for the occasion.
“To think that, in a building like this, some of our Founding Fathers met and discussed issues, and for me to be able to be sworn in here, I think is quite a privilege,” Pons said.
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President Colin G. Campbell agreed, saying the swearing-in ceremony continued a time-honored Williamsburg tradition.
“Continuing that tradition, and making this a center for local activity, and particularly for the recognition of newly elected council members and the election of the mayor and vice mayor is so very appropriate,” Campbell said. “I only wish more of our visitors came in to see.”
For Foster, the significance of the event, the setting, and of the city council itself was undeniable.
“Being in a location like this has a grounding effect on everything we do, Foster said. “So often we take lightly that, yeah, we live in Williamsburg. That actually means something to American history. We take lightly that we can drive to Jamestown Island. That’s where this whole thing started. It adds weight to the entire experience and really makes it clear how important what we do is.”
Electoral Board Chairman Bill Dell certified the results of the elections, after which McGinty administered the oaths of office to Foster and Pons. Following the ceremony, the council then met for its organizational meeting.
During the meeting, the council selected its officers for the next two-year term. Both Foster’s nomination of Mayor Clyde Haulman for another term and Pons’s nomination of Vice Mayor Paul Freiling for an additional term passed unanimously.
Following the elections, the council confirmed several appointed city officials. Gerry S. Walton was reconfirmed as Deputy Clerk of Council, a position she is filling after the sudden death of Lisa Judkins. Christina Workman Shelton was reconfirmed as city attorney, and Jack Tuttle was reconfirmed as city manager.
Both Foster and Pons said they expected the experience gained from their first terms and relationships with city staff to facilitate their service over the next four years.
Looking forward, Foster said he had high hopes for the city during his second term.
“We’re right on the cusp of Williamsburg enhancing itself as a vibrant place to live, Foster said. “A few more things have to fall into place for that to happen, and I think it’s going to happen in the near future.”
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