William & Mary Law School’s Stacy Kern-Scheerer Begins Four-Year Term on the Williamsburg City Council

  • Swearing-In
    Swearing-In  The Honorable Holly B. Smith, presiding judge of the Williamsburg/James City County Circuit Court, administered the Oath of Office to Professor Kern-Scheerer and to Mayor Doug Pons on Friday, November 6.  Photo by David F. Morrill
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On Friday, January 6, William & Mary Law Professor Stacy Kern-Scheerer was sworn in to the Williamsburg City Council at the historic Courthouse of 1770 on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg. Administering the Oath of Office was The Honorable Holly B. Smith, presiding judge of the Williamsburg/James City County Circuit Court.

Kern-Scheerer, a Clinical Associate Professor of Law, Director of William & Mary Law School’s Clinical Programs, and Director of the Immigration Clinic, won election to the Council on November 8, coming in first place as one of four contenders for two open seats. Her desire to serve the Williamsburg community is a natural progression in her commitment to helping others.

“I have always been strongly involved in public service,” Kern-Scheerer says. “I knew when I went to law school and public health school that I would always find ways to be civically engaged.”

Kern-Scheerer’s first job out of law school was on Capitol Hill, in the nonpartisan Senate Office of the Legislative Counsel. She worked there for nearly 10 years as a legislative drafter, where she had a front row seat to the wheels of government at the highest level.

“I know that Congress can get—and deserve—a bad rap, but my experience in those years, being surrounded by so many dedicated public servants every day was incredibly inspiring,” she says. “I learned that governance, problem-solving, and compromise is extremely difficult and unglamorous, but so rewarding.”

Kern-Scheerer admits that national and state-level politics often grab the front-page headlines, but she knows that decisions made and priorities set at the local level have profound impact on everyone’s daily lives.

“I decided to run because I love our community, and I want to listen, act, and contribute how I can,” she says. “I simply enjoy working with others to identify and resolve difficult questions, to recognize and amplify our community’s strengths, and to improve and make adjustments where we need to as a community.”

After many years in Williamsburg serving in organizations, on boards, and generally involved in the community, Kern-Scheerer and her family decided it was the right time to throw her hat in the ring for City Council. Working within that ring meant lots of campaigning, and Kern-Scheerer enjoyed speaking with people from all over town. She knocked on hundreds of doors in Williamsburg, from the neighborhoods down by the Outlets to the streets around the Law School, to the streets and neighborhoods east of Colonial Williamsburg, and everywhere in between.

“It can be intimidating at first to just knock on a door and not be sure how you will be received,” Kern-Scheerer says. “But you just kind of take a deep breath and do it, and speak with honesty and care for our community. I had so many wonderful conversations with people at their doors; I learned what people are concerned about on the local level, and what is on their minds.”

Housing, traffic, schools, taxes, public safety, and community character were just some of the issues constituents discussed with her. “But a uniting theme is that everyone simply wants a community that functions for the people who live and work here, and wants to know that their local leadership always has the best interest of the community at heart,” she says.

Kern-Scheerer believes her legal training will be invaluable as she works with the Council. 

“Law school—and the practice of law—trains one to break complex issues down into logical parts, to see a big picture as well as the details, to set priorities, to get comfortable reading and parsing legal language, and to excel at communication. All of these skills will be critical to the job,” she says.

Being a good listener and enjoying connecting with people and understanding where they are coming from is also crucial for Kern-Scheerer, who has long believed in listening and thinking before she speaks.

“I do my homework, I am a team player, and I also have a sense of humor!” she says. “I think being able to laugh, to keep things in perspective, and to roll with the punches are vital to keeping an even keel when times are busy and difficult.”

Busy doesn’t even begin to describe her days as a lawyer, professor, clinical director, mom, and now City Council member. She credits an “amazing family—a supportive husband, Jonathan, and an incredible son,” as well as “phenomenal, inspiring friends” for getting through it all. Just as important, she has self-care practices that help guard against stress, burnout, and measuring herself against impossible standards of perfection.

“Even if I don’t love every minute of every day, I love everything I do,” she says. “I love all my roles and I find so much joy in my personal life and professional pursuits. The joy and gratitude I feel makes it easier to juggle everything.”

That juggling began quickly. After being sworn in, Kern-Scheerer enjoyed a ten-minute break before heading into an organizational meeting for the City Council.

About William & Mary Law School
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America’s first law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.