New Councilor

Winchester Circuit Court Clerk Will Gardner (right) administers the Oath of Office to new Winchester City Council member Phillip “Phil” Milstead on Tuesday at Rouss City Hall. This is the first political office held by Milstead.

WINCHESTER — “It’s a wonderful city ... but there’s always room for improvement.”

Those were among the first words spoken by Phillip Milstead after being sworn in Tuesday evening as a Ward 4 member of Winchester’s City Council.

Milstead, a Democrat, unseated three-term Republican Councilor John Willingham in the Nov. 3 general election. Milstead’s four-year term began on Jan. 1, but a public swearing-in ceremony was put off until Tuesday due to social-distancing restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The brief ceremony in Rouss City Hall also included incumbent council members Les Veach, John Hill and Corey Sullivan, as well as incumbent Mayor David Smith, each of whom was re-elected to a four-year term.

Winchester Circuit Court Clerk Will Gardner administered the oath of office on Tuesday and personally congratulated all five men.

“I’m sure you’ll continue representing the citizens of Winchester with pride and do great things,” Gardner said prior to swearing in Veach.

Veach, a Republican, was re-elected to a fourth four-year term representing Ward 1.

“I appreciate the voters’ confidence in my ability for the next four years,” he said, noting he would serve all of Winchester’s citizens, not just those in Ward 1.

Hill, a Democrat, earned a fourth four-year term representing Ward 2. He made no public comment after taking the oath of office.

Sullivan, a Republican, was re-elected to a second four-year term representing Ward 3. He was first appointed to the panel in 2014, then won election to his first full term in 2016.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Sullivan said. “If we work together, I think we can accomplish all the goals that we set.”

Smith, a Democrat, earned a second four-year term as Winchester’s mayor.

“I want to thank everyone who supported me,” he said. “I also want to remind everyone to social distance, wear your mask and get vaccinated [for COVID-19].”

The nine-member council is now comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans.

Milstead is not the only new face on City Council. Democrat Richard Bell was appointed by the panel on Nov. 24 to fill the final year of the unexpired Ward 1 term of Republican Bill Wiley, who stepped down from council after being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates on Nov. 3. Bell, who was sworn in by Gardner one day after his appointment, has already said he plans to seek a full four-year term in this year’s general election on Nov. 2.

Following Tuesday evening’s ceremony, the five newly sworn members participated in their first City Council meeting of 2021. Oddly enough, all five councilors had to leave Council Chambers in Rouss City Hall prior to the meeting and dash to a nearby computer because the session was conducted virtually due to the pandemic.

— Contact Brian Brehm at

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