Sheri Iachetta, General Registrar, City of Charlottesville
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born in Fort Lee, Virginia in 1964 and my parents adopted me when I was 2 weeks old from the Children’s Home Society in Richmond. I was raised in Albemarle County and attended County public Schools.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I moved back to Charlottesville in 1998 when my husband and I got together – we got married in 1999.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
Currently I live in the Greenbrier neighborhood.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
I am married to a wonderful man – Pat Owen and have 3 boys – Adam -20; Reid – 18 and Will – 12.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I graduated from Albemarle High School in 1982; Radford university with a Bachelor in Music Therapy and Voice performance in 1987 and my Masters of Science Degree in 1990.
What were you doing before you came to work for the city?
I was working for R.A.D. Systems as a staff Instructor. I traveled across the country teaching the R.A.D. Program. I would go to municipal and university police departments and teach the R.A.D program to instructors who wanted to take it back to their community. The very first Instructors program I taught was at UVA in 1993.
Your job title is General Registrar – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I am responsible for the administrative functions of a voter registration and elections agency. This entails administering all local, state and federal elections in the locality and maintaining current files for over 33,000 people. In Virginia we vote every year and sometimes we have 2 to 3 elections a year. Our work for each election begins more than 3 months out with the candidate filing period. Candidate management takes time since they file legally required reports all year long. We also need to recruit and train election officials for each election, send out legal notices, perform accessibility reviews to our precincts annually and ensure accessible access to our office, website, all precincts and materials. In addition I have daily responsibilities of anyone in charge of an agency, I handle budget, personnel, payroll, participating in City management requirements, supply and inventory management as laws change, outreach in the community and keeping up to date on all federal and state laws involving elections …. I spend December – Feb/March back and forth to Richmond with the General Assembly in developing legislation and testifying on various election related bills. And people joke that we only work one day a year…….
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
The best part of my job is knowing that we are making a difference. I know that sounds corny but I know that because of what this office does on a daily basis. Elections in the City of Charlottesville are fair and impartial. People are losing faith in the partisan side of politics. This office is completely nonpartisan and we spend so much time on ensuring a transparent process to what we do so that the public does have the trust they deserve. The most difficult part of my job is telling people on election day that they are not eligible to vote. It’s so frustrating to me when people wait until the last minute to check status or follow up on their registration information and therefore are not eligible and not able to cast a vote.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
A majority of citizens actually exercise their right to vote and I’m here to make sure that right is offered and protected. When I started this job in 1999, the City had a little over 18,000 registered voters and today we have over 33,000. I think that is great.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the city?
I have had several that I need to list – I was the staff lead on moving from appointed to elected schools Boards, the staff lead on the study of a directly elected mayor and moving to the ward system and the census coordinator for the city for 2000 and 2010. All of these have been great experiences. Can’t wait for my next project!
What is a little-known fact about you?
I am co-founder and an Executive Board member of Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) Systems, the largest women’s self-defense company in the country.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
I am the Worship Director at my church, Broadus Memorial Baptist Church and I am the adult, youth and children’s choir director. I have been the Worship Director at my church for the last 7 years.