A Clifton resident for 28 years, Jim Chesley, 56, has a long record of town service. He's been mayor the past 12 years, chaired Clifton's Architectural Review Board from 1978-84, served on the Town Council from 1984-92 and was vice-mayor from 1988-92.
He and wife Jennifer have two daughters, Lauren, 18, and Brienne, 15. A civilian, Chesley heads logistics technology development at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda. Proud to serve the town, he's running for re-election as Clifton's mayor.
DURING HIS mayoral tenure, Clifton built a pedestrian plaza, renovated a historic caboose, built Chapel Road's sidewalk and a pedestrian crosswalk by the Clifton Store, acquired land for a natural sanctuary and added two new residential communities.
Chesley helped get Clifton Road designated a Virginia Byway to prevent its future widening. And together, Fairfax County and the town barred a new crossing over the Occoquan to prevent further development in the watershed and even more traffic from coming into Clifton.
And after eight years' work, Clifton's preparing to underground some of its cabling. It also installed taller utility poles to consolidate cable, electric and telephone wires on one set of poles on one side of the street, The lines will be higher than second-story windows, so they won't be seen.
"I'd eventually like to have brick sidewalks placed on top of the current sidewalks, and period lights on Main Street and Chapel Road," said Chesley. "We've instituted more traffic-calming procedures — speed humps and more police patrolling our area because of the speeding and stop-sign running."
Clifton's HUD program has provided housing for low-income families and, said Chesley, "We're proud to afford people the opportunity to do this. And it's helped the town financially so we didn't have to have a real-estate tax that would have impacted the residents."
To improve communication, he had his wife institute a firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address for town issues. "People have been very appreciative of it," he said. "We've sent out two council agendas, information about the election and general information about upcoming events, and we're now gathering a list of e-mail addresses."
Since Frog Hill and Clifton Heights residents get mail delivered at home and don't see town messages at the post office, he's already mailing council agendas and also plans to send them draft minutes of council meetings.
AS A CANDIDATE, Chesley considers his greatest strength his background of knowledge regarding issues and concerns affecting Clifton. It comes from his more than quarter century of service to the town and from his active involvement in local, state and federal organizations crucial to Clifton's future.
He's a commissioner on the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, dealing with regional issues such as transportation, health and public safety; on the board of directors of NOVEC, the electric company serving Clifton; vice-president of the Occoquan Watershed Coalition dealing with environmental, water-protection and land-use issues in the watershed area; and is on the Virginia Association of Zoning Officials.
Chesley's also the town's appointed contact for local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, who've done several projects for Clifton. And he's president of the Clifton Lions Club, which does charitable works in and around the town.
He's running for re-election because he truly cares about the town and its people and wants to help Clifton become an even better place to live. "I've had a lot of support and encouragement to run again from a lot of town residents," he said. "It's nice to know people appreciate what you're doing."
Chesley hopes to develop and implement further strategies "to create a safer environment for Clifton's residents and guests. We can't do anything about the volume of traffic, but I want Clifton to be a residential- and pedestrian-friendly, walking town. We want people to adhere to the laws, stop and slow down when they're supposed to; and until they do, I'll keep asking for more police."
He wants to see the utility work finished and see a town Web site created to exchange information. "There's still a lot of work to be done to help Clifton more fully realize its potential, and I'd like to help bring that vision into reality," he said. Furthermore, he added, "We have a lot of new people with a lot of new ideas, and we need to incorporate those ideas into our current and future plans."
CHESLEY BELIEVES he should be re-elected because "If you look at my record as mayor, you see a solid record of accomplishments and achievements within the town — and also with groups around the state which have a stake in Clifton's future. It takes years to develop these relationships, and we want to leverage them for the better of the town."
He also wants more of the residents to take an active role in Clifton's government. "I want the policy-making in the town to be collective, not just the Town Council or major," he explained. "It includes input from residents, and I think more people need to step up and take on specific responsibilities and work on what's in the best interest of the town. And I look forward to working with a Town Council that supports a vision of cooperation and shared responsibility."