The November 19, 202 Luncheon Speaker will be Jeff Ryer
Press Secretary, Virginia Senate Republican Caucus
Bio information coming soon.

The October 15, 2020 Luncheon Speaker Was Benny Zhang,
Attorney and retired Councilman for City of Williamsburg.


Notes from CARMA Meeting on October 15, 2020 – Benny Zhang

Benny began his discussion with some basic biographical information as to how he came to the US, that his parents were here for research project, and that was during the time when the rioting occurred in China.  He said that all history of that has been scrubbed in China.  His first entry into politics was as an elections officer, and then he began attending City of Williamsburg council meetings as a college student at William & Mary.  Council members would ask him about how things were on campus.  He became a member of the public housing board.  He worked on the first Mike Watson campaign, and then on the Tommy Norment campaign.

When he ran for Council, he received some poor feedback from other students for not using his full legal name, and was accused of white washing.  The students on campus, he said, are very much energized to get the democrat votes out and aren’t tolerant of conservatives or republicans on campus.

He discussed the practice of fulltime students from out of state being allowed to vote in Virginia and how he doesn’t believe that the voter registration system is sufficiently smart enough to determine if they have also voted at home. 

He spoke of his directions when becoming a councilman; he wanted to do politics differently, and to do more listening of the citizens because he felt most of them to be very educated.  He said he felt the need to be very principled.  That he voted against various tax increases because he wanted specific plans on how the money would be spent, and that was never figured out in advance.  He said while the City council members are supposed to be non-partisan, it is pretty obvious who the liberal and conservative voices are. 

During the early stages of the racial unrest, he reached out to the leaders of the groups and found that they would speak to him, although they had very specific agendas.  The one leader he knew was forced out because she was found to have embezzled money.  He said that from what he knew, Richmond has much greater issues and has basically lost control over the “trying to keep things calm” and thought that it was a very bad situation. 

He spoke briefly about the WJCC school system, and said that since the City only has about 10% of the population of students, that the School Board representatives are cautious to follow the lead of the county members and to follow the culture of the county also. 

He spoke about the affordable housing mandate but did not think that the current projects in the City were going to be somehow forced into that type of construction.

Benny answered a number of questions, advised that he is working in the same office as Senator Norment, as an attorney, and is recently married and they have a baby girl on the way.