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Paid for by Citizens for Michael Sutphin

Vice Mayor Michael Sutphin

I stand for investing in our community, expanding opportunities for everyone, and building a sustainable future in Blacksburg.

Michael in front of Theatre 101 in downtown Blacksburg

Michael in front of the Five Chimneys House

About

My name is Michael Sutphin, and I have over 12 years of experience in local government. I am currently on my fourth term on the Blacksburg Town Council and serving as vice mayor. Last November, I was honored to be re-elected to the Town Council, allowing me to continue my service to the community for another four years.

I have a deep connection to this town and arrived here as a Virginia Tech student back in 2002. During my college years, I served as a news editor and reporter for the Collegiate Times and even covered the local government beat. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2006, I worked in communications and public relations for two colleges at Virginia Tech before accepting a position for an area nonprofit in 2017.

In 2011, I was elected to the Town Council at the age of 27. I was honored to become the youngest person to hold the position and first openly gay elected official in Southwest Virginia. As part of my role on the Town Council, I represent Blacksburg on several committees and boards, including the New River Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization, Blacksburg Business Relations Committee, and MBC Development Corporation. I also served on the Blacksburg Planning Commission in 2018 and 2019 and completed the Virginia Certified Planning Commissioner Program.

My service extends beyond Blacksburg, too. For seven years, I was on the board of directors for Equality Virginia, the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy organization. I also spent a year as board chair. It was an honor to work with such a dedicated group of people who are making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ people across Virginia.

I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, but spent my formative years in the suburbs of Asheville, North Carolina, and Williamsburg, Virginia. I’m proud to call Blacksburg my home now and excited to continue serving the community.

AROUND TOWN

Michael in Lane Stadium
Michael at the 3.2 for 32 Run in Remembrance
Michael at a trail entrance

Issues

Investing in Our Community

Blacksburg and the greater New River Valley are growing, and it’s crucial that our infrastructure keeps pace with that growth. That’s why I support a wide range of capital projects that revitalize our downtown, expand our trail system and recreation amenities, make transportation improvements, and replace our aging water and sewer lines.

The Town Council passed a five-year, $140 million Capital Improvement Program in 2023 with dozens of projects that align with these goals. In addition, the Town of Blacksburg received $13 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding in the past year, with more than half allocated to capital projects.

I support numerous community investments, including:

  • Revitalizing downtown through streetscape improvements and the creation of a retail incubator space
  • Renovating the Community Center to enhance programming and make it more accessible to all residents
  • Expanding and improving Blacksburg’s trail system and outdoor recreation amenities, including upgrades to the Brush Mountain trail system and the expansion of the Huckleberry Trail
  • Improving pedestrian safety along Prices Fork, Clay Street, and elsewhere
  • Enhancing public transportation options through expanded Blacksburg Transit service
  • Upgrading the town’s aging water and sewer lines to ensure reliable service for years to come

Collaboration is also critical to our region’s success, and I have nine years of experience on the New River Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) making regional transportation planning and funding decisions. Through my work on the MPO and other committees and boards, I have learned that we can create a better future for Blacksburg when we work with our neighbors and partners in the New River Valley and Roanoke Valley.

Michael in downtown Blacksburg

Expanding Opportunities for Everyone

Blacksburg is a great place to call home, but our community faces many challenges. Rising housing prices and a shortage of available homes have made it difficult for many residents to find a suitable place to live in town, especially those with low-to-moderate incomes. To address this issue, I support land use policies that encourage the creation of more homes for sale and rent that are close to jobs and existing infrastructure. This will also help reduce commuter traffic and improve quality of life.

As a member of the Blacksburg Business Relations Committee and the Main Street Connect merchant group, I’m committed to working with local business owners to identify policies and initiatives that promote economic growth and entrepreneurship in town. Throughout my time in office, I have voted to support our commercial centers, such as the College Avenue Promenade, the IMAX at First & Main, and the Midtown development.

Here are some of the relevant measures I support in Blacksburg:

  • Implementing land use policies that create more housing types for residents of all income levels, such as accessory apartments and small lot residential development
  • Encouraging residential infill development and linking housing, transportation, and employment when making land use decisions
  • Backing economic development initiatives that provide resources and remove barriers for small businesses
  • Promoting Blacksburg as a destination
  • Building on our strengths in education, technology, arts and culture, and the outdoors for recruiting and retaining people and businesses

My goal is to collaborate with residents, community organizations, business owners, and others to expand opportunities for all members of our community.

Michael with Sen. John Edwards and other council members

Building a Sustainable Future

The Blacksburg Comprehensive Plan sets out a vision for our town that values environmental stewardship, economic resilience, and the well-being of residents both now and in the future. As someone who cares deeply about these issues, I believe that we must take concrete steps to improve our environment and quality of life. This includes reducing our community-wide greenhouse gas emissions, making good on the town’s climate and sustainability commitments, and working with our regional partners to achieve our goals.

Here are some of the sustainability measures I support:

  • Transitioning the Blacksburg Transit fleet to all-electric vehicles
  • Making it easier to access residential solar energy
  • Supporting local and regional food systems, such as community gardens and the farmers market
  • Promoting energy-efficient building practices, such as passive solar design and green roofs
  • Using a “smart growth” approach to land use that encourages mixed-use development, public and alternative transportation, and the preservation of green and open spaces

Sustainability is not just about the environment — it’s also about a sustainable local economy that generates employment opportunities for residents and a local government that is accountable to taxpayers. We must also prioritize social sustainability by creating a welcoming and inclusive community that encourages civic and cultural engagement. I firmly believe that these three aspects of sustainability (environmental, economic, and social) are interconnected and must be considered together when planning for Blacksburg's future.

Michael with the Environmental Coalition at Virginia Tech

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