Below is a candidate questionnaire for Charlottesville’s city council contenders — independent candidate Yas Washington and democrats Juandiego Wade and Brian Pinkston.
Election Day is Nov. 2 and early voting begins Sep. 17. Other election information can be found at Virginia Department of Elections Citizen Portal. To learn more about other local and state candidates, see the Charlottesville Tomorrow Voter Guide.
How will you support affordable homes and apartments for homeowners and renters in Charlottesville?
Juandiego Wade: I believe that addressing affordable housing will take a multifaceted approach including Exploring re-zoning options and working with community partners, I will only support options that will us the desired outcome of increasing affordable housing options.
Brian Pinkston: I believe the Affordable Housing Plan recently endorsed by City Council is a good one. It is thorough, practical, and equitable. I intend to fund that Plan every year, per the figures set forth in the Plan.
Yas Washington: The value of land continues to rise and real estate prices continue to climb, due to the direction of expansion in Charlottesville seen through commercial, housing and mixed-use developments. Expanding the “Urban Ring,” requires the prioritization of accessibility to affordable housing options for individuals 30-50% Area Median Income. The adopted plan that has committed $14.5 million to building roughly 5,000 homes within the next decade will encourage an inclusive Charlottesville, which is an agenda I plan to support!
Do you support the police civilian review board having subpoena powers and disciplinary recommendations as outlined in new state law? Why or why not?
JW: I believe in making sure the PCRB is equipped with the tools it needs to provide accountability to the police force, but I don’t believe in micromanagement.
BP: In general, yes, I do. Having a strong PCRB will be good for both CPD and for the Community, in that it will increase transparency and accountability. That said, the details are obviously important. There must be the appropriate organizational and administrative framework put in place, to ensure fairness and consistency.
YW: The Police Civilian Review Board is a civilian-led oversight to the CPD, which receives police misconduct cases to review and works to reduce involvement by Internal Affairs while minimizing injustices and upholding fair, just and ethical policing. Ideally, being appointed the right to issue a summons will grant PCRB the right to subpoena documents or witnesses to assist in the legal procedures preventing the possibility of backlogging. Offering recommendations for disciplinary action should be taken into consideration by the judicial jurisdiction with the 8 member PCRB exuding powers similar to that of a jury.
Will you take a climate action lens when reviewing and voting on development proposals? What else can you do to help the city reach its emissions goals?
JW: I believe the most important first-step in ensuring climate justice is increasing tree-canopy in communities of color. I also support continuing to fund AHIP and other non-profit community organizations, which help reduce both the energy and cost burdens on homeowners.
BP: Yes, for sure. I would want to ensure that whatever development proposal that is put forward is consistent with the City’s Climate Action Planning efforts. The main thing I can do as a Councilor to help the City reach its emissions goals is to support and fund the Climate Action Planning efforts now underway by City Staff.
YW: As we continue to expand Charlottesville through construction to build the city, we need to ensure that we are not destroying our ecosystem by implementing restrictive land use policies: Tree Conservation Ordinance(s). As population increases leading to traffic congestion and an overall increase in CO2 emissions, taking preventative measures for managing rainfall, maintaining air quality and preventing climate change will ensure public safety. Investing in Urban Agriculture is not only a food equity initiative but a means of obtaining Biomass Energy, using the crop waste as a possible substitution for fossil fuels eventually.
What, if any, changes would you like to make to public transportation in the area?
JW: As a former [planner in] transportation of 20 years, I have a clear understanding of how to gather public input and determine the need for public transit. I will strongly support public transportation in the greater Charlottesville community.
BP: I’d love to see UVA’s bus service and CAT more deeply connected.
YW: The umbrella of public safety includes ensuring that all roads in Charlottesville work and are safe, from reducing congestion in populated areas to minimizing pedestrian incidents. As part of the agenda of the Strategic Plan, Charlottesville strives to be an inclusive city: I support improving our equity supply, by creating jobs with full-time positions for CAT employees and incorporating routes to help individuals with traveling to work, school or for everyday use.
How can you support locally-owned businesses and businesses owned by women, people of color, or other historically marginalized groups?
JW: I will continue to support locally-owned businesses and businesses owned by women, people of color, or other historically marginalized groups if elected. As a career counselor, I work with a wide range of job seekers and businesses. Additionally, I am board member of CIC, which as a mission is to strengthen our community and contribute to economic development by fueling the success of under-resourced entrepreneurs through education, mentoring, financing, and networking. As a councilor, I will increase dialogue and continue to offer and support equity programs.
BP: The first thing is to advocate for all small businesses but especially those noted here. The second would be to continue to support the work that the Office of Economic Development is doing to help these businesses get back on their feet, post-COVID. And the third would be to strengthen the City’s commitment to supporting women-and-minority-owned businesses through its own procurement policies.
YW: Uprooting the deeply rooted determinants that have been disparities for low-income Americans (22.1% in Charlottesville) by providing equity through financial literacy programs, business workshops, homeownership opportunities and resources that allow them to become more self-sufficient to overcome long standing barriers. I support a mixed-market that encourages growth and provides opportunities to help individuals overcome socioeconomic disparities; working alongside our partners to create opportunities will push the needle, as seen through the Office of Economic Development, Small Business Administration combined with capital market resources.
Some community members lack the resources, time, or interest to attend government meetings. How will you reach out to engage with more constituents– in particular those whose voices are not heard often in public meetings?
JW: In addition to our current outreach efforts, I will propose additional steps, such as walks through neighborhoods, as an effort to take the city to the people, instead of having to wait for the people to come to the city, we should take the city to the people.
BP: This is a great question, which I need to consider more carefully. My initial thinking would be to task the Communications staff with the City to identify strategies to make this happen. I also personally commit to being out in the community, listening to residents myself directly.
YW: Greater Charlottesville is a city that works tirelessly to enhance the quality of living for all residents with a lens of transparency. As a councilor, the relationships with the various hubs will be strengthened, receiving copies of their monthly agendas will allow for Council to be made aware of existing issues, ensuring a timely response.
There have been numerous vacancies in City Hall in recent years and rumors of low morale. What are your plans to help the city manager combat that?
JW: The current Council has started effort by hiring city manager and deputy city managers, and if we enable and empower them to do their jobs, that will encourage leaders to come to, and stay with, our city government.
BP: Build an environment of stability, trust, and courtesy among the members of Council, transfer that mindset into Council’s relations with the City Manager, and then expect the City Manager to create that kind of culture within City Hall itself. Vacancies and low morale are, I believe, due to lack of consistent, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership from Council.
YW: To enhance the infrastructure of City Hall, strong qualified candidates must be hired to enhance the interdepartmental functions. Having a Council that focuses on reform through policies, budget oversight and project management will build an infrastructure that can support a long-term City Manager. The morale of the Council depends on the elects of this election with new members that have a plan to re-energize the efforts of the past Council!