From left, moderators Andrea Copeland & Meg Heubek and candidates Dede Smith & Wes Bellamy

The second candidate forum for the Charlottesville City Council Democratic primary attracted a small audience Wednesday at the University of Virginia’s Nau Hall.

Incumbent Dede Smith and challenger Wes Bellamy participated in the forum which focused on relations between the city and the University of Virginia.

Incumbent Kathy Galvin and challenger Mike Signer said they could not attend because of prior commitments.  Organizers said Lena Seville could not participate because of an illness.

The forum was co-sponsored by nonprofit Gov360 and VotersChoice, a company formed by two UVa student entrepreneurs who are developing a smartphone application to link candidates, elected officials and voters.

The forum began with a presentation by Tara Raj and Garrett Allen, rising fourth-year students at UVa, who previewed the VotersChoice website and a mobile application that will soon be available for both Apple and Android smartphones.

The five candidates will be on the June 9 Democratic primary ballot. Voters can select as many as three candidates in the primary, and the top three candidates will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

The Charlottesville Democratic primary will be held on June 9 and new voters have until 5 p.m. May 18 to register.


TIMELINE for audio podcast (see blue box at right or iTunes for audio file)

00:01:15 — introduction by moderator Andrea Copeland, director of member education services at the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce

00:03:43 — presentation by Tara Raj and Garrett Allen of VotersChoice

00:08:04 — introduction by moderator Meg Huebek, director of instruction, UVa Center for Politics

00:08:48 — Opening statement by incumbent Dede Smith (D-Charlottesville)

00:12:04 — Question #1: Do you think that University of Virginia students should be encouraged to register and vote in the city of Charlottesville while they are here?  What effect might more student participation have on politics in the city?  Should there be a student representative on the City Council?

00:12:27 — Smith

[Wes Bellamy arrives]

00:14:55 — Opening statement by challenger Wes Bellamy (D-Charlottesville)

00:18:20 — Question #1: Do you think that University of Virginia students should be encouraged to register and vote in the city of Charlottesville while they are here?  What effect might more student participation have on politics in the city?  Should there be a student representative on the City Council?

00:18:36 — Bellamy

00:21:30 — Question #2: The University is the area’s largest employer yet many of its employees are barely making a living wage, they can barely afford decent housing in this area, what role do you see the Council having in working with the University so employees can afford to live in the community where they work?  What can the city do in terms of zoning and planning to develop more affordable housing provide more business to serve students based on their needs and financial means?

00:22:32 — Bellamy

00:25:45 — Smith

00:30:43 — Question #3: What organizational issues prevent transparency and openness between the University and the city of Charlottesville?  How will you as a City Council member plan to work with those issues to resolve them?

00:31:01 — Smith

00:33:16 — Bellamy

00:30:43 — Question #4: The city of Charlottesville benefits from the influx of a lot of money coming into the area every year through the University, what additional revenue could be generated by the city that could then be applied toward enhancing city public services that benefit both the community and the students?

00:35:54 — Bellamy

00:38:05 — Smith

00:42:47 — Bellamy

00:46:54 — Smith

00:48:24 — Question #5: I think we would all agree that this has been a really terrible, tumultuous year to be in Charlottesville — the death of Hannah Graham and arrest of Jesse Matthews, the infamous Rolling Stone article, and the arrest of Martese Johnson just a few weeks ago — have emphasized the need for more cooperation between the University, the city, and then also the state and county governments.  As a City Council member, what steps do you think we should take to make our community…stronger, and safer and increase citizen participation?

00:49:12 — Smith

00:54:48 — Bellamy

00:56:09 — Smith

00:56:50 — Question #6: Charlottesville is a city dominated by Democrats, this means that the tension between parties that often drives compromise is missing.  How might the University community provide discourse, debate and compromise and create public policy that is more reflective of its citizenry?

00:57:20 — Bellamy

00:59:03 — Smith

1:03:12 — Audience questions (2)

01:19:00 — Closing statements

01:19:13 — Smith

01:19:54 — Bellamy

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