June 1, 2009

Martinsville Vice Mayor Kimble Reynolds Jr. has put practicing law on hold to work full time as regional director for 5th District U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello.

Reynolds started working for Perriello, D-Albemarle County, on Monday. In a release, the congressman said that Reynolds will represent him in community outreach efforts and government affairs throughout Southside.
Also, Reynolds will oversee a new congressional office that Perriello plans to open soon in Martinsville, as well as a Danville office that already is open, said Jessica Barba, the congressman's press secretary.
The local office will be the first office that a congressman has maintained in the Henry County-Martinsville area - at least during modern times, Reynolds and Perriello said to their understanding.
"We want to make sure constituents ... know they can reach us and that we are accessible," Barba said, referring to Perriello's staff.
Reynolds, who unsuccessfully ran for the 16th District House of Delegates seat in 2003, said he has no plans to run for either a federal or state office and his interest in working for Perriello should not be construed as such.
He said he accepted his position with Perriello, which pays $45,000 a year, because he enjoys community service and will get to extend that service to communities throughout Southside with his new position.
Reynolds said he will be responsible to Perriello for Henry, Franklin, Halifax and Pittsylvania counties and the cities of Martinsville, Danville and Bedford.
In addition to overseeing the two congressional offices, he said he will spend much of his time in those localities, assessing their community and economic development needs, talking with local leaders about the needs and trying to find ways in which Perriello and Congress can help.
Reynolds' "deep knowledge and understanding of Southside ... as well as his understanding of the tough decisions that local leaders must make every day, will be invaluable as we work together" to solve problems, Perriello said.
While he will continue serving on Martinsville City Council, Reynolds said he may have to abstain from voting on issues involving the federal government.
Officials said they will announce when Perriello's new congressional office in Martinsville will open. A location had not been found as of Tuesday.
People will be able to visit the office to express opinions on federal issues and seek help with health care and veterans' benefits, among other things, officials said.
Operating hours have not yet been determined, but Barba said plans are for the office to be open five days a week, at least for a few hours each day.
The office will "provide greater accessibility" to Perriello and his staff, said Reynolds. Area residents needing the congressman's help will be able to talk "with a live staff member" in person instead of by phone or e-mail, he said.
An employee will be hired to help Reynolds run the office, especially in handling veterans' cases, officials said.
Reynolds said how much he is in the office will depend on where and when he has to be in other Southside locations to represent Perriello.
But he expects to devote "at least 40 hours" a week to his job, he said.
Reynolds is not giving up his law practice on Starling Avenue in Martinsville. His partner, Jameson Whitney, will take over most cases for the foreseeable future, he said, and Reynolds said he "will be there in an advisory capacity" when needed.
"I'm honored to have the opportunity to serve Southside Virginia alongside Congressman Perriello," said Reynolds. Perriello, he said, is "very dedicated to economic recovery in our communities, and I look forward to working with him to achieve great things in the 5th District."
Regarding the new Martinsville office, he added that the area "deserves this kind of focus because the needs and opportunities are so great."
"Our new office presents a unique opportunity to work with local residents and leaders to help this community rebound," Reynolds said.