West Virginia University students make a difference in Morgantown in a variety of ways, but one WVU Law student will make his mark as a decision-maker on City Council.
Ryan Wallace, a rising third-year student, was elected in April and will begin his two-year term July 1.
Wallace, who plans a career in public interest law, campaigned on improving Morgantown’s infrastructure, quality of life, and community growth. He wants to help repair streets, sidewalks and lighting infrastructure, increase the transparency and effectiveness of the City’s Code Enforcement Department, and encourage a productive and goal-oriented working environment among city council members.
“After getting to know Morgantown’s politics and hearing concerns from other residents, I thought I could bring in a new perspective and some valuable skills to our local government,” he said.
His main priority as a new city council member is to help ensure residents are confident in their municipal government by striving to create an accountable system.
“I really like the idea of using the law to help people, and serving in city government seemed like a practical way of doing that to help improve the quality of life among residents through things like code enforcement and effective zoning,” he said. “Lawyers should be leaders, and they should help create a system in which everyone can function well.”
Prior to law school, Wallace obtained a Master’s degree in Community Development from Andrews University in Michigan. He also worked for non-profit organizations in the United States, Canada and Afghanistan. He moved to Morgantown’s Wiles-Hill neighborhood in 2015 from Eau Claire, Michigan, where he served as a member of city council and the city planning commission.
Wallace worked for West Virginia Senior Legal Aid the summer after his first year of law school, and this summer he will work for the WVU Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, focusing on community development and zoning.
After law school, Wallace plans to stay in Morgantown and take the West Virginia Bar. He hopes to continue to serve his community and represent the Third Ward on Morgantown City Council.
He and his wife, Christine, both volunteer in various community organizations. Christine, who also has a Master’s in Community Development from Andrews University, is the program manager and outreach coordinator for the Monongalia Starting Points Family Resource Center and 5k Director for Girls on the Run. Both are fitness instructors at the WVU Student Recreation Center and local gyms. They have two daughters, Grace, 11, and Faith, 8.