By Rodger Digilio
We hope you took a minute to read about Chet Avery, our 2008 Alexandria of the Year. He has lived in our city for over 40 years. He has been involved intimately in its workings as a member of many boards and commissions. He has served the city and has served the schools. He has been totally blind since he was 17 years old.
Along the way Chet Avery has made many major contributions to Alexandria. His leadership has brought about significant changes for persons with disabilities. He has greatly improved their quality of life and he has greatly improved their participation in the life of the city.
Our accessible courthouse, library, voting machines, curb cuts, and many other improvements came about through his long and dedicated service and his passionate persuasion.
Chet Avery retired from federal service over 12 years ago but he still continues to serve Alexandria on the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Persons with Disabilities. He was appointed to several Virginia State groups by Governor Mark Warner.
Long term service by dedicated individuals is frequently a great blessing to a community. If City Council’s efforts to enact term limits for boards and commissions succeeds, it would rob Alexandria of the contributions of individuals like Chet Avery. We wonder whether that is really a good idea. City Council can always refuse to reappoint an individual to its boards.
Refusing to reappoint, however, would require leadership and might make people angry. Why do our elected leaders shy away from that. City Council should learn a lesson from Chet Avery. His advocacy has occasionally upset some individuals but the benefits have been well worth it.
We are proud to honor Chet Avery for his more then 40 years of service to our wonderful city. We hope that he, and not some arbitrary standard, will determine when it will end.