My Work


Leslie Hager-Smith is a small business owner and community volunteer who has been at home in Blacksburg since 1982.  She is married to Eric P. Smith, and they have three grown children. Leslie’s interest in town governance took root during her years as a reporter and columnist for The Roanoke Times.  She is also the former director of the Downtown Merchants of Blacksburg and Director of Community Programs for the YMCA at Virginia Tech.

On council, her work has focused on economic and community development.  She lent her hand to creating a business incentives program for downtown revitalization; matching grants for façade improvements; and town-wide apartment recycling.  Leslie is a founding member of Sustainable Blacksburg and an energetic advocate for trails and bikeway connections in the region. Her record of service includes:

  • Vice Mayor of the Town of Blacksburg, for three terms

  • Montgomery County Special Education Advisory Board

  • Greater Montgomery Liaison Committee

  • Town/Tech Liaison Committee

  • Blacksburg Housing and Community Development Advisory Board

  • Blacksburg Corridor Committee:  Bikeways, greenways and sidewalks

  • Blacksburg Parks & Recreation Advisory Board

  • Main Street Connect merchants association

  • University Boulevard Merchants Association

  • Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.

  • Council liaison to the Blacksburg Partnership

  • New River Valley Agency on Aging

  • Virginia Municipal League General Laws and Policy Committee

Leslie champions the new generation of creatives in Blacksburg.  She conceived and launched the monthly mixer “Up on the Roof,” in order to attract young professionals into the downtown.  She was a member of the organizing body which created the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council’s “blueprint” for regional innovation, and a contributor to the first ever public gigabit WiFi network.

On behalf of the downtown merchants, Leslie co-founded Blacksburg’s Summer Solstice Fest, now in its 15th year; and also originated the 16 Frogs Watershed Initiative, a public arts project with an environmental consciousness.


Legislative Initiatives

Leslie initiated council action on legalizing Accessory Dwelling Units in homes that are owner-occupied. This allows homeowners to age in place with a caretaker on site. It also allows multi-generational living and can contribute to income diversity in town limits. Most importantly, it incentivizes owner occupancy, contributing to neighborhood stability. Council adopted the new policy in spring, 2017.

Leslie advocated for contraflow bicycle lanes for 2 years, as a member of the town’s Corridor Committee.  The initiative was voted into town ordinance in 2014.

Leslie supported new regulations to permit food trucks on private property within town limits, and also to regulate and tax online rentals (Airbnb).  As a member of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, she worked to refine the town’s Open Air Dining regulations [2013], which have been a boon to restaurants, as well as diners.

Leslie supported and promoted establishment of an Arts and Cultural District to provide economic incentives for qualified arts businesses. [2012] She also worked to advance a Live/Work/Sell Arts Overlay District to allow artists to vend their artistic creations from their homes. [2012, 2016].