Name: Ken Heath
Birthplace and/or where you grew up: Marion, Virginia
Where do you currently call home? Marion, Virginia
Occupation: Director of Community and Economic Development, Town of Marion
Favorite part about the job: Being able to help and make a difference. The position is so varied that we can provide guidance, direction, and assistance to just about everyone - and we do!
Your first job ever: My grandfather was the Tom's Peanut route salesman, and when I was about ten years old, he set me up with a "credit account" so I could sell candy and chips to the neighborhood kids from a card table on our front lawn. I did pretty good - in fact, the local store called the Town to complain that I didn't have a business license! At the end of the summer, another older kid came over and threatened to put me out of business by starting his own. I mulled it over, knowing school was about to start, so I sold him my remaining inventory. I paid my grandfather in full and had money to spend on our vacation!
Favorite Book/Currently Reading: I LOVE to read! Favorite book of all time is "Wizard of Oz". I vary from thrillers to westerns to historical biographies to inspirational and leadership books. Currently, I'm reading "Measure of a Man" by Martin Greenfield - not only is it a sartorial masterpiece from the legend in men's fashion, but it's the epitome of achieving "The American Dream", from Holocaust survivor to tailor to Presidents!
Comfort Food: Dip Dogs! If you've never been to SWVA, you're missing out! Add in Virginia oysters on the half shell, a homegrown tomato and mayo sandwich, and a whiskey sour, and this boy's a happy camper.
What’s playing in your car right now? Jimmy Buffett "A1A". Being a gig DJ, I have nearly a MONTH of unrepeated tunes downloaded, so we might cruise to Sinatra, The War & Treaty, Al Greene, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Dixieland jazz - depends on the mood.
Addicted to podcasts? What are the top three you listen to? Actually, none! I'm not still enough to spend with a podcast - too "long form" for me. I'd rather read about it than hear about it.
Next journey? Hmmm . . . where I'm led. I truly believe God has His plan, and I've learned I'm most successful when I'm quiet and listen for His lead.
Favorite Virginia destination? Home. Nothing like my porch hidden in the towering forest overlooking these SWVA mountains, my angel and my pup nearby. But if I'm ready for a road trip, it's either Richmond for politics or the coast for seafood.
First political memory? My grandfather cussing the tv at President Nixon following Watergate. Locally, hearing stories of my uncle losing a sheriff's race, and the tale that he wore a pistol on his hip the day after the election. Supposedly one of the townsfolk asked him why he was strapping, since he'd lost. He quipped "With no more friends than I have, I'd better carry a gun!"
Best advice you ever received? 86,400. That's how many seconds in each day. Make every one count.
If you could have dinner with anyone currently living, whom would it be and why? My wife. Sounds cheesy, I know. But she grounds me, keeps me humble while lifting me up. My rock and inspiration, and there's no one else on earth with whom I'd rather spend time.
One thing most people would be surprised to learn about you? Folks would probably be surprised to learn, in addition to economic development, I’ve continued my first passion of music by owning my own mobile DJ business. We’ve been named “Top Wedding DJs in SWVA” by Virginia Living Magazine for the past five years and were featured on “The Today Show” a couple years ago!
Ambition, political or otherwise? I've been honored to have been twice elected to serve our community as a member of town council and was the first person in SWVA to receive Certified Local Government Official status from the Virginia Municipal League. Next up? Maybe Virginia General Assembly - maybe DC?
Favorite part about the PLP so far? The fellowship. I am blown away at my colleagues in the class. These guys certainly are setting the bar for me!