A second candidate has officially announced plans to run for one of the Charlottesville Democratic Party’s two nominations to City Council.
“I plan to bring intensity, passion, and dedication to City Council to continue to make this city of Charlottesville a great place,” said Wes Bellamy, who is involved in several nonprofit organizations.
Bellamy, 26, is a native of Atlanta who moved to the area to take a job at the National Ground Intelligence Center, but left that position to become an educator. He currently teaches computer science at Albemarle High School and is pursuing a master’s degree in education administration at Virginia State University.
In mid-February, Bellamy introduced Councilor Kristin Szakos when she announced she would seek a second term. At the time, he told reporters he was not yet ready to run for office but changed his mind after one of the students in his program visited City Council.
“He asked, ‘Mr. Wes, why isn’t there anyone who looks like us up there?’” Bellamy said. “And I’ve been talking to more and more people in the community and I just felt like now is a better time than ever.”
Robert Gest III, an Albemarle County resident with ties to local civil rights organizations, introduced Bellamy at his announcement in Tonsler Park.
“This young fellow, in a very few years in our area, has shown himself to be all about improving our community,” Gest said. “He has truly impressed me.”
Bellamy is the founder of Helping Young People Evolve, a non-profit group that mentors young boys through boxing and other activities. He claimed that the program has helped raise the cumulative grade point average of its participants from 1.8 to 3.2 between Dec. 2011 and Jan. 2013.
He has organized charity drives, is a member of the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee, and opened a chapter of the National Alliance of Black School Educators.
“Moving the city forward in every way possible is my goal,” Bellamy said. “Anyone [who] knows me, and as the entire city of Charlottesville will come to know, I not the ordinary [candidate]. I am unafraid the tough issues that have plagued our community for some time now.”
Bellamy said he would focus on economic development, small business and providing opportunities for poor and disadvantaged citizens. He also said the city must grow its arts community in order to showcase the talents of those who live here.
“I plan to serve as a conduit between organizations and local government to ensure that this happens,” Bellamy said. “This is not something I plan to speak about. This is something that I plan to prove with my actions if elected.”
Bellamy has the support of at least one local entrepreneur.
“We first worked together as judges at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center and ever since then, I’ve seen him develop H.Y.P.E. and I’ve seen him really move the community in a positive way,” said Toan Nguyen, the owner of Cville Coffee and a founder of the Charlottesville Investment Collaborative
In addition to Bellamy and Szakos, two other people are seeking the Democratic nomination. UVa graduate student Adam Lees has filed paperwork to the city registrar, and former independent candidate Bob Fenwick is collecting signatures to run as a Democrat this year.
The Democratic primary is June 11