University of Virginia media-relations writer
publicly announced his candidacy for Charlottesville City Council Wednesday, launching his campaign as a “pragmatic progressive Democrat.”
The 36-year-old has worked in the UVa Media Relations office for the last five years. Cannon said his job involves taking big ideas from faculty and visitors, and distilling them down into pragmatic concepts.
“That requires carefully studying complicated issues, digging into details, listening to a wide diversity of people, asking incisive questions and getting to the heart of the matter at hand, all valuable skills I would bring to City Council,” Cannon said during a speech to about 75 people on the Downtown Mall.
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“I believe our city deserves bold, creative, visionary leaders, who are willing to think big, but balance that with pragmatism,” Cannon said. “We need to be bold but pragmatic about jobs, schools and trails.”
Job creation should be a top priority for City Council, Cannon said, adding that the city has the “key ingredients of a biotechnology hub.” He pointed specifically to Indoor Biotechnologies’ plan to build a biotech campus at the old Coca-Cola bottling plant on Preston Avenue as a development that would create more high-quality, middle-class jobs.
“That’s exactly the sort of project that we need to be doing more of, and if I’m elected to council I’m going to make that a priority,” Cannon said.
He offered a specific plan to reinvigorate the Rivanna Trail system, saying more investment is needed to develop the trail in a fashion similar to what has been done at Riverside Park in Woolen Mills.
“Our trail system should extend eventually from Biscuit Run in the south, to Downtown, to Forest Lakes in the north, to Crozet in the west and beyond,” Cannon said.
Cannon closed his remarks by offering what he called an example of a “creative, out-of-the-box solution” related to the replacement of the aging
“I’ve got a vision for the Belmont Bridge that we can leave the west half of the bridge in place,” Cannon said. “And we can plant grass on it, trails, trees, make it a walkway and a bikeway that connects the east end of the Downtown Mall with Belmont.”
Cannon said he understands that building a new bridge while leaving part of the old one standing would pose some engineering questions, but it’s a vision that deserves to be on the table for further study and discussion.
Cannon first came to Charlottesville in 1997 to attend UVa, where he studied economics, history and religion. He said he’s also worked more than 1,000 hours as a volunteer firefighter and served as a leader of Left of Center, a local group of young progressives and Democrats.
“Brevy is a guy with big ideas,” Norris said. “He’s going to move the city forward in a way that I’m really excited about.”
Cannon joins incumbent councilor Satyendra Huja, homebuilder and developer Paul Beyer, city School Board member Kathy Galvin, fitness-club owner James Halfaday and former city School Board chairwoman Dede Smith in seeking one of three nominations by the Democratic Party.
Retired attorney Peter McIntosh withdrew from the Democratic race.
Independents Bob Fenwick, Brandon Collins, Andrew Williams and Scott Bandy also have announced campaigns.
Councilors Holly Edwards and David Brown have announced they will not seek re-election this year. Mayor Dave Norris and Councilor Kristin Szakos are not up for re-election until 2013.
The Democratic Party’s “firehouse primary” is 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 20 at Burley Middle School. The general election is Nov. 8.
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