Mozell Booker reflects on community service and the future

By Page H. Gifford

Longtime Fluvanna leader Mozell Booker has decided she will not seek reelection and will retire when her term expires in January 2024. Booker is a 16-year Fluvanna Board of Supervisors veteran and current Board chair.

“I want to thank people for their support and encouragement during my years of service and for trusting me and sharing their ideas and aspirations for the community,” Booker said. “There have been challenges, but I am proud of my work.”

Ms. Booker served in the same seat as her deceased husband, Jerome, both serving for 16 years. The Bookers were trailblazers. Jerome became the first African American elected to the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors, and Mozell became the first woman to chair the board, serving as chair for two terms.

Booker, a lifelong educator, decided to run for the board to ensure Fluvanna built a new high school to meet the community’s needs for the future. Her fellow board members credited Booker with providing the leadership necessary to bring a divided board to an agreement, end teacher furloughs, and approve funding for the school.

While many focused only on the cost of a new school, Booker looked to the future. She understood that demographics dictated county growth, requiring a larger school, and committed to a building plan that would allow for expansion. She also knew the importance of providing career and technical programs in Fluvanna schools rather than incurring the cost of transporting students outside the county to Charlottesville-Albemarle Technological Education Center. 

“I’m very proud of the high school,” said Booker.

During her years of service, she said she is proud of the high school but also recognized the need for infrastructure for the county’s future.

“I am gratified to have continued the work begun by my late husband to address the county’s water needs.” In 2013, Booker helped pass the inter-jurisdictional agreement with Louisa County, creating the James River water pipeline plan. “It has taken years to accomplish, but I can step down knowing that James River water will be coming to Fluvanna County.” Booker was also instrumental in implementing the Fork Union Streetscape, adding sidewalks and lights in the village.

The Bookers shared a belief in smart growth. Each worked to strengthen core services for the community; health, social services, public safety, infrastructure, education, arts and recreation, economic development, and job creation. During Jerome’s tenure, and with the support of both Bookers, a performing arts center was established by the Fluvanna Arts Council. Working with Tom Payne, Jerome understood the value of transforming an unused county building into an arts venue to draw visiting performers and tourists to the community and secured board approval for the center.

Like her husband, Mozell knows the importance of arts and cultural programs for the community. She supports the current Fluvanna County Arts Council’s efforts to expand offerings to include film, visual arts, youth arts education, and historical programs. Booker also offers lectures on the history of African Americans in Fluvanna and the history of the county’s Rosenwald Schools.

Her commitment to the community is also evident in the value she places on the many nonprofits and organizations she believes are integral to the health and well-being of Fluvanna residents. She works with the Community Management Team, the Interagency Council, the Rivanna River Basin Commission, JABA, and the Fluvanna-Louisa Housing Foundation. As a retiree, Booker prioritizes attending these meetings, listening, and advocating for county support when needed. Booker frequents community celebrations, arts programs, and school events. She has also been committed to expanding housing and home-ownership opportunities.

Booker’s life has been one of service and commitment to her community. A graduate of Abrams High School and Virginia Union University, she earned a master’s degree from Michigan State and studied school administration and supervision at the University of Virginia. She worked in the Fluvanna County Public School System in many capacities, including teaching 4th and 5th grades and gifted and talented classes, working in the central office with special education and personnel, and serving as principal of two schools, Cunningham and Fork Union. She finished her principal career, leading three Charlottesville schools before her retirement. Frequently Booker hears from former students, some now in their 40s, who share memories and comment on the importance of representation and what she meant to them. Booker said she cares deeply about the future of the county that has been her home for most of her life. 

“I could not step down without knowing that another lifelong Fluco would run for my seat, someone who shares my love for the community and my commitment to service and will focus on relationships over partisanship,” she said. “As I planned to step away from elected office, I thought of one person who could continue my legacy and bring a deep knowledge of and commitment to the community, Horace Scruggs, III. Like my family, Horace’s family has a long legacy of service to Fluvanna.”

Scruggs has announced that he is running for a seat on the Board of Supervisors in the Fork Union District. 

Mike Goad, who currently serves as the Fork Union District representative on the Fluvanna Planning Commission, announced last month that he plans to seek election to the Board of Supervisors this November. He has filed to run as an Independent in the Fork Union District. 

Booker remains proud that she worked to bring people to the table to talk, bridged differences in points of view and experiences, listened to and understood the community’s needs, and gave voice to the underserved. She wants to see these efforts continue.

She may be stepping down from her county post as a Supervisor but she will still be a force of support and assures those in her community that she will continue to be a voice for the underrepresented, the teachers and students, and bringing everyone together for the good of Fluvanna.

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