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204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Letter: Joan Ziglar
Ziglar seeking support
Sunday, September 22, 2013
My name is Joan Ziglar and I am a lifelong resident of this area. I grew up in poverty in a family of 15 children on a tobacco farm in Ridgeway and I attended Henry County schools. I learned very early that hard work was the only way I would succeed in life.
I graduated from Drewry Mason High School and Ferrum College, where I graduated No. 1 in my class and obtained a bachelor’s degree in public affairs and administration. I returned home and was hired as Martinsville’s housing rehabilitation technician, where I administered a grant to improve blighted communities.
I left Martinsville temporarily to obtain a master’s degree in public affairs and administration from the Virginia Commonwealth University. After graduating, I returned to Martinsville and was hired as director of the West Piedmont Training Center. There, I developed vocational training programs for certified nursing assistants and upholstery technicians. Thereafter, I became a probation and parole officer for Martinsville and Henry County.
Having regular contact with the court spurred me on to law school. I attended the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary. With my law degree, I returned to Martinsville and was hired as the first assistant public defender in Martinsville and Henry County. As a defense attorney, I zealously represented my clients and assured that they were treated fairly in the criminal justice system. Desiring to do more for children, I left the public defender’s office to serve as special counsel for the Attorney General of Virginia, prosecuting deadbeat parents.
I ran for Martinsville commonwealth’s attorney in November 1997. I was successful in my bid for election and I have served since Jan. 1, 1998.
Clay Gravely worked for me for almost two years. During that time, state budget cuts plagued my office. The only way to reduce my state budget was to cut staff or take furloughs. Because Mr. Gravely had the least seniority, he would have been the employee permanently laid-off. However, my staff and I took pay cuts, more than once, to allow him to remain employed because he was our friend and I gave him my word that he would remain employed until the end of my term. Mr. Gravely resigned months later to open his own practice. I wished him well then and I still pray for his success — just not as Martinsville commonwealth’s attorney at this time.
John Luke, chairman and CEO of Meadwestvaco, stated, “change simply for the sake of change is an abdication of leadership.” Or as Bert Lance summarized it, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Martinsville has the lowest crime rate in 30 years. By the grace of God and through the efforts of an entire community working with me to take back our city from violent criminals, Martinsville no longer is referred to as “Little Chicago,” as it was when I took office.
I encourage you to keep moving forward with a proven leader. Vote Joan Ziglar for commonwealth’s attorney on Nov. 5.