City Council candidates on city/county/UVa cooperation
In the run up to Election Day on November 8 th , Charlottesville Tomorrow 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 and 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 th .
Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 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, THIRD IN A SERIES
How should the city, county and the University of Virginia work together to enhance our community’s unique character and economic vitality?
Scott Bandy (I) – Challenger
That’s been a bone of contention with some folks. County and city relations, I chalk that up to the fact that the city in a way conducts itself as if though were the county, and the county conducts itself as though it were the city. Look at the urban ring there. Commercial development. People moving out to the county. The city has lost a lot of residents, people that have moved from the city into the county. You go where the jobs are. The jobs happen to be mostly in the county. Not that we don’t have them in the city, certainly we do.
And of course, the University of Virginia. Let’s drag that into this. Certainly there is room for improvement. We could talk to each more. Not that we don’t already. But as Bob Fenwick said, as a city, we have a problem of talking things to death. The people want action. Whether that’s in the next few minutes or over a period of time. Certainly I am willing to extend the hand of cordialness and consideration to the university, to the county, to work on things together.
One of the things that is close to me that also involves the county is the Sunset-Fontaine Connector. The improvements are going to be in the county, but that improvement is going to dramatically affect the city. The residents along Old Lynchburg Road, that segment of Jefferson Park Avenue. They will be impacted when that connector is ever completed and done. Perhaps once it is done, and certainly that’s one of the things I would be most interested in the county with, and of course, the university, because we have the Fontaine Avenue Research Park over there, of accomplishing. That impact would be that Jefferson Park Avenue, [Old] Lynchburg Road, could return to the status of a slower paced neighborhood street, not the cut-through as it is and has been currently used as. Let’s move on.
Brandon Collins (I) – Challenger
… I think everyone knows that things between the county and the city have not been great for quite some time. I am looking forward to at some point getting beyond the [Meadow Creek] Parkway and the water supply plan, and in to really seeing what the county and the city have in common … We can cooperate a lot on a regional transit plan, or a regional transit authority, if there’s interest in the county for that. I think in the long term we really need to make a list of priorities for the city when it comes to the county and determine which of those are really worth taking a stand for and what is somewhat negotiable …
The county, I think, has very little interest in environmental planning, planning based upon sustainability, and that’s going to be a point of conflict for a long time to come. I feel strongly that we need to stand up for the planet, stand up for our city when it comes to these things. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but I feel like we have to do it.
When it comes to the University, we have a real opportunity with Teresa Sullivan as a new President. … With new administration coming in to UVA that gives us a good opportunity to present our case and say to the University that they have not really done enough for the community. … [T]heir interests directly affect our residents, particularly our most disadvantaged residents and have a huge effect on our housing. … We need to making gaining a living wage for employees of the university also a priority. They are our largest employer, they set the bar for the rest of the city in a lot of ways …
We can work with them–we already do with the trolley system … We can seek perhaps more funding from them. We can’t make them do it, but I think that would be in their interest and our interest to really engage the community and make things better.
We need to address the coal plant at UVA. The city has very little leverage to make any changes about that, but it is our biggest polluter and it’s affecting our residents and it’s affecting our quality of life and I think we need to also make that a priority item …
Bob Fenwick (I) – Challenger
I want to assume a big part of this question has to do with city/county relations and because if we don’t work together, we’re not going to prosper together, so the previous question described a revamping of our transportation system as greener and smarter, so now we come to stronger part. Our relations with the county and UVa couldn’t be better at least from UVa’s and the county’s perspective. UVa, for the most part, stands apart from our community planning discussions and actions. Perhaps that’s in a small way why they are truly a world-class university. Could you imagine what would happen if our city and county politicians were put in charge of the University? I’m just wondering.
The county is getting everything they want from the city: upgraded sewer capacity, the Meadow Creek Parkway Interceptor for the county’s development of Stonefield across Route 29 from K-Mart and condominiums ringing the city. A four-lane cut-through highway from Route 29 to Route 64, the Meadow Creek Parkway, which takes out up to 22 acres of McIntire Park which the city Vision Statement describes as our urban forest. A huge new dam and pipeline project which benefits not the city but future county growth and which, again, results in a loss of a city natural area, the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. A massive increase in a sewer pumping station in a rebuilding city neighborhood, the Woolen Mills.
The county sees no benefit in cooperative actions because they know they have three sitting city councilors who will vote for county interests before city interests and if that sounds like an overstatement, remember the letter passed by a unanimous vote of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and signed by the chairwoman which was sent to the city on the compromise plan crafted by Dave Norris and it said basically we the county will not compromise, so is this a stronger plank that is advocated by one of the city councilors, one of the city council candidates. Who is muscling whom?
Finally, whenever I address a group of citizens, I have no idea who is a city resident or a county resident unless I am personally acquainted with them. It is not the citizens who are at odds, it is our political leaders who are at odds with their constituents.
Kathy Galvin (D) – Challenger
… It is Charlottesville city within the context of a county that has done an excellent job of preserving its agricultural and rural landscape. That combination of good town-city form with open landscape is what makes UVa … so exciting to students and so appealing to parents. … likewise, when you look at where the job growth has been happening in the city, it is under the category of state government. That is UVa. … So I just wanted to establish that we all have a vested interest in helping and working together.
… [T]here is the Planning and Coordination Council, the PACC, and I am actually quite enthused by a recent product of that body, which was the LCAPP, the [Local Climate Action Planning Process]. It’s about dealing with our growth, managing it in a very smart way with good public transportation, well-designed communities … and it’s moving us towards a really “green” approach to everything from stormwater, to how we build our buildings, to how we plan. …
Secondly, the other planning initiative that’s going on is the Livable Communities process through the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. That was a grant that was achieved with both county and city cooperation because it was acknowledging the thirty years of incredible smart-growth management that this region has succeeded in achieving … by emphasizing infill and adaptive reuse, both in the county and the city …
What that process is going to reveal to both jurisdictions is where again we might benefit greatly if we start sharing some of those principles of development … The [county’s] Neighborhood Model is a really good example of how that might be something that both jurisdictions could share. …
So looking at the PACC … [and] the TJPDC effort right now, that’s going to be how we begin to really get a good positive working relationship with the county and the university. And I will just add one little coda, I think in recent years because of the difficulty we’ve had in following through with our agreements, with for example the water plan, and with the Meadow Creek Parkway … [everyone’s] wondering how well we can trust each other—I think now that we have standing votes on those two issues, we can now really look at these other opportunities that are ahead of us.
Satyendra Huja (D) – Incumbent
We are basically one community, the city, county, and the University, and we need to work together cooperatively and in a positive manner. I think if you want to have a good community, we need to work together. Currently we have a number of joint facilities in the city and county, the library, tourism and airport [commissions]. In the future we need to cooperate in the area of fire services, parks and recreation, and social services. We also need to work with the University of Virginia to encourage, for example, biotech businesses in the city. We can work with the university to have new businesses which can start in the city. So I think we all need to work together because it is in our own interests to do so.
Dede Smith (D) – Challenge
Well of course the city, county, and UVa, while we have boundaries on paper, we really do work together and we are one community. Frankly, I think one of the places we are weakest is I think UVa is a grossly underutilized resource. It is a very powerful force in our community, yet it often stands alone. Where I would like to see UVa utilized more is in planning. There is a lot of expertise at UVa, not only in planning, but in social issues and education. It’s such a high quality university that I think we could better utilize the expertise there.
And I think in doing so, if UVa was better integrated with the city’s planning, there might be a better avenue for cooperation. Transportation is another place where UVa, city, county really need, well it’s not that we don’t work together, but we really need to ramp up, particularly as we look at redesigning our transportation system which I believe there is a lot of interest in doing. We just need to be sure everyone is at the table.
In terms of economic vitality, I think UVa is again—the expertise and the resources that are at UVa—could really fuel the city looking at attracting an employment identity. I think we will get into that a little later on in another question, but again by cooperating with UVa I think we could bring to the table a lot of interesting industry.
Andrew Williams (I) – Challenger
First off, we need to put our differences aside. I think that our region, but Charlottesville and Albemarle County, our small area needs to work together to be self-sustainable. I look down the future of our federal government and the state government and a lot of things, there’s a lot of questions, a lot of concern, I think that we are capable and educated and smart enough to work together.
Maybe even bring back some manufacturing. You know, we need to figure out a way to bring back, or to bring new business, or and also figure out a way that people can start businesses and actually keep them for more than one or two years because it’s so tough.
Being an independent, I have the benefit of looking at problems rationally, I can support raising taxes when necessary as I plan on looking into, depending on the circumstance upon a successful election, but I can also look into tax breaks, and my judgment isn’t clouded by party lines. I think the city, county, and UVa could work together, and from a business standpoint, why would a customer stay in a company that isn’t serving them well? Or why would a shareholder in a corporation keep funding monies into a lost cause such as Enron or Lehman Brothers or other questionable companies.
I look at Charlottesville as essentially a company that wants to keep its customers. We want to keep our residents happy, we want to keep our residents here, we want to keep local monies here. So while they have the option to move out, I want Charlottesville to be such a place that people choose to stay in Charlottesville, and not get ran out because they can’t afford it either. And it’s that perspective that’s going to help Charlottesville in the long run, in particular the underrepresented populace.