A few months ago, 22-year old Luke Phillips had decided not to register as a candidate for a seat on the Cedar Bluff, Virginia Town Council. But after receiving encouragement from others he decided to throw his his hat into the ring as a write-in candidate for Town Council and, on November 3 he was elected to serve as the town’s mayor. In the process, he became the youngest person to be elected mayor of a Virginia town or city in at least the past 50 years, and perhaps in the state’s history.
“I’m really excited by the opportunity to serve the people here,” Phillips, a student at Bluefield State College, said. “I love Cedar Bluff. It’s a great community. Folks get along without a lot of drama and it’s just a wonderful place to live.”
Before graduating from Richlands High School in 2017, Phillips made his mark as an outstanding student and athlete, playing football and basketball for some very good Blue Tornado teams. In fact, he and his father, Fred (the RHS basketball coach), are the only father-son combination in Richlands High School history to graduate as career 1000-point scorers.
An American Government class at RHS cultivated his interest in politics. “The 2016 election got a lot of attention, nationally and locally,” he recalled. “I began to understand that service as an elected official can really make a positive difference in people’s lives, because it deals with day-to-day problems, opportunities, and needs.”
After graduating from high school, he decided to study engineering at the college level. “Bluefield State had the academic program I wanted, and I received an invitation to play basketball there, as well,” he added. Once at BSC, he focused on attaining a baccalaureate degree in civil engineering technology.
“I’ve always been interested in things like infrastructure and functionality,” he continued. In addition to his academic pursuits, he’s an intern in the Town of Richlands’ engineering department. “This semester, I’m taking an Environmental Systems Class, and my work as an intern is at the Richlands waste water plant. I’m applying what I learn in the classroom to my work experiences as an intern. The faculty at BSC has really helped prepare me for a career,” noted Phillips.
As Cedar Bluff’s mayor-elect, the objectives include bringing some new businesses to town, while also improving recreational opportunities in the community. “There’s already a kayak club in Richlands,” he said. “It would be great if we could establish an access point in Cedar Bluff. We can also pursue grants to fund improvements at Overlook Park.”
“I don’t want to be a career politician, but I do want to help bring positive changes and strengthen the quality-of-life of folks in Cedar Bluff.”