In the run up to Election Day on November 8
will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
Charlottesville City Council
. In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8
2011 Election Center
website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more. All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.
CITY COUNCIL, LAST IN A SERIES
Scott Bandy (I) – Challenger
Reaching some sort of place where environmental consciousness does not conflict with common sense. We have a very zealous pedestrian and bike community but at the same time, look at our city streets and thoroughfares. They are dangerous and have become unsafe while we have made tremendous and most impressive strides in trails and bike lanes, why have our streets become unsafe?…
We’ve got to come to a place that we understand, that you know, we will compromise and we will balance things out so that everyone wins. Where everyone can walk away satisfied. No, you’re not going to get everything that you want. Nobody ever does in this life. But if we don’t, if there are some groups and some interests that are bound and determined it’s their way or the highway, things are still going to get progressively worse in the city and that’s unfortunate because to have the high standard as we do living in this city, it would be a shame to lose that and to people to further suffer than they already are.
Brandon Collins (I) – Challenger
I think we need to do something about poverty. This is a multi-faceted issue and that is basically my main focus. When we talk about poverty, it’s not always just the people who are unemployed or the people who get food stamps, sometimes it’s our teachers who are working and they are not making enough money to live here. There are so many things to look at. There’s employment and there’s wages. There’s housing, there’s transportation, it’s a multi-faceted problem.
I think I’ve got things in my platform that focus specifically on housing, jobs, public transportation, and the environment. I think in a lot of ways how we deal with our planet also effects how we deal with people. One thing that’s going to be a big issue is how the city grows and are we pushing poor people out of town because it gets so expensive. I don’t think we should. We have established neighborhoods here and I’d like to see our residents be able to live and work here. But to be able to do that we have to do something meaningful to make their lives much more meaningful economically.
Approaching poverty, homelessness, yes at the bottom, joblessness, the working poor, addressing our housing needs, those are my priorities. There’s a whole lot more to it than just saying we are going to pass a few resolutions and we’re going to get some programs going, but that’s going to be the main focus that I have going in to city council.
Bob Fenwick (I) – Challenger
Well, I’ve been through a few of these recessions and this is by far the worst. The worst one before this was the Carter-Reagan recession and it’s going to take us a long time to work our way out of this. So for the next few years, I would take care of the basic necessities for the city and fulfill our social safety net obligations and responsibilities. We are very fortunate to have the University of Virginia as an economic base for our community but this recession is eating businesses and devastating families and the city council has to recognize that words alone will not be helpful. We need action.
There’s a ton of political fat in the budget that can be trimmed. Streamline the real estate assessment and appeals process and give a clear explanation of why assessments keep going up in the face of a declining real estate market.
Kathy Galvin (D) – Challenger
…I want to focus on the families and the neighborhoods of our children who are living in poverty so that at some point they are going to see their parents independent and also successful. That’s one of the best ways to influence a child’s own motivation is to see that their own parents are successful.
I look at the city council’s goals, and I feel like I might just want to change emphasis… [W]e have an odd situation where we have not enough housing for the people that work here and not enough jobs for the people that do live here. So when we look at our affordable housing goals … let’s diversify that diet of housing, make sure we get the workforce housing that we need, and get it distributed around the city, get affordable housing distributed around the city so that we are not concentrating poverty as we tend to do…
When I looked at the economic development section of our budget … it’s like 0.3 percent, it’s tiny. I think we need to be more aggressive in looking and going after work. We need to be more aggressive in getting a regional transportation network that gets people to where the jobs are currently growing. It does mean being very aggressive about doing adaptive reuse and sensitive infill along our corridors and former industrial sites, and maybe some of those industrial sites should remain industrial sites…
I would like [to make it such that] our individuals in need are moving towards more opportunity—access to jobs, access to education, access to the transportation that’s going to get them there, and access in neighborhoods that have the kind of viability to them that only comes with having a variety of people with different income levels that can sustain a variety of businesses to service those households…
Satyendra Huja (D) – Incumbent
First, transportation. I would like to see an interconnected network of bicycle lanes built so we can have a safer place to ride. Also, an interconnected network of sidewalks. As you know, every trip begins as a pedestrian, even if you go by car you need to first walk to the car. So a good system of sidewalks, especially to schools. I also would like to see improvement in our transit system. It needs to be restructured and be more frequent, so that we have 15 minute headways [at bus stops]. Right now we have 1 hour headways and most people don’t want to wait for an hour and you’re going to have an effective transit system it needs to be more frequent and accessible. Right now there is no transit system in the northern part of the city and I think we need to have that there too and that would be good for the environment and good for our transportation.
Dede Smith (D) – Challenger
I am quite intrigued with the city council’s new priority, which I think you can sum up with “mutual respect.” It’s an issue that I’ve been very involved with over the years that I’ve been in Charlottesville particularly as it relates to education. That is issues of race, issues of poverty.
That goes back to as we update the comprehensive plan, I think we need to be very aware of what the implications are for our families that struggle. Of course we have many more now with the recession, the economy as it is, and we need to be very cognizant of the impact that our decisions have on all of our families here.
Andrew Williams (I) – Challenger
First off, I don’t like the idea that mayor is not elected at-large. I think that as far as checks and balances is concerned, Charlottesville’s government has none. There’s no separation between the legislative branch and the executive branch and I think that that that would improve a lot of the process as well.
Balancing the representation, also in discussion, there’s been a lot of talk about a ward system and that was certainly my mind-set back in 2009 and something I’m still considering. The unfortunate truth is that if the council remains – I don’t think that the Democratic Party would favor that. I think that that would be them admitting losing power or creating an environment that another party or Independents can maybe get the majority, and I think that that’s where politics can maybe cloud judgment.
I’m in favor of a balanced Charlottesville. While they’re trying to unite the Democratic Party, I’m trying to unite Charlottesville. I think that a ward system would be a good idea. And if not a ward system, maybe something that’s similar, to where there’s always representation in all the areas in Charlottesville. One may say, ‘well, what if someone within a ward system, or what if in this particular ward system there’s no one to get elected, or there’s no one who wants to run?’ Well that’s fine, because we can also have at-large elections, and everything can be managed on a case-by-case basis. But all of the neighborhoods in Charlottesville should have some form of representation. When it’s at-large, government can be as convoluted as it is here in Charlottesville.