Holland comes back home

Published 10:50 pm Friday, March 16, 2012

City Attorney Helivi Holland, left, takes her oath from Clerk of Court Randy Carter as her mother, Lula Holland, looks on.

She didn’t exactly click her heels together, but Helivi Holland told a packed City Council chambers on Friday, “There’s no place like home.”

Wearing red heels, the Suffolk native took an oath and became Suffolk’s city attorney on Friday.

“I am extremely proud to be able to serve as the chief legal adviser for the city,” she told the crowd of family, friends, fellow church members, city employees, judges, state officials, sorority sisters, high school teachers and professors from Virginia Tech and William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law.


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“It is without hesitation I promise to provide exceptional legal services to the mayor, the City Council, the city manager and city staff.”

Holland was tapped last month as city attorney to replace C. Edward Roettger, who retired in December.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson remarked on the occasion of the city’s first black and first female city attorney.

“This is a major milestone in the city’s commitment to recruiting and retaining the most qualified public servants,” Johnson said, adding that the city seeks to employ a workforce that reflects the diversity of the city.

She also noted it was appropriate the investiture took place during Women’s History Month.

“I remember a time there were only a few professional choices for women,” Johnson added.

After the mayor’s remarks, Holland placed her hand on a Bible that her mother had presented her as a gift for the occasion and took the oath from Clerk of Court Randy Carter.

During her speech, Holland reflected on a career that had taken her through the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and the city attorney’s office before she was chosen by Gov. Bob McDonnell to head up the Department of Juvenile Justice.

A mere two years later, she is back at home. But, Holland joked, she will try not to be as strict with her staff here as she was in Richmond.

She also demonstrated her commitment to upholding the laws, rules and regulations by jesting that she had shut out tardy friends and family in order to avoid violating the fire code in chambers.

But all joking aside, Holland fought back tears as she honored her mother, who sat in the front row, and wished her deceased father could be there as well. She also called out a handful of friends, her Delta Sigma Theta sisters and her fellow church members from First Baptist Mahan Street.

“I am extremely grateful, I am extremely proud and I promise to serve you well,” she said.