On May 19, 2007, the five candidates seeking Democratic nominations for three seats on

Charlottesville City Counci

l held another in a series of forums at the Jefferson Area Board for Aging. Over sixty people attended the event, which was hosted by the Charlottesville and Albemarle Democrats as part of their monthly breakfast meeting. Columnist Bob Gibson of the Charlottesville Daily Progress served as moderator for the forum.




(L to R) Bob Gibson (Daily Progress), Jennifer McKeever, Holly Edwards, Linda Seaman, David Brown, and Satyendra Huja


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The candidates did not give opening and closing statements. Instead, Bob Gibson presided over a series of ten questions, many of which touched on growth and development issues. The following are some of the questions as well as selected responses from the candidates.


Question 1: “Is Charlottesville one community with Albemarle County? Should the county and city explore a possible merger?”




Jennifer McKeever

: “I believe that we can look to merging different things, for example the social services works very well, the fire department, the library works well. I’m not opposed to studying those issues, I just don’t want to see reversion or merger necessarily because we are two distinct localities.”


Holly Edwards

: “Consolidation does bring out a better use of resources, but the reality is before you get married, all those pre-marital counseling sessions are for a reason.”


Linda Seaman

: “The city and the county have a revenue sharing agreement. We finished the first part. In other words, the city gets a check from the county each year. We haven’t finished the second part which was to further discuss ways of consolidating services.”



David Brown

: “There are a number of areas where the city and county are showing an ability to cooperate. The idea of moving towards a regional transit authority and figuring out ways of investing and sharing resources to make transit improve in Charlottesville is a great idea. We should look for opportunities to work together.”




Satyendra Huja

: “There are many areas where we can cooperate and consolidate and have economies of scale. Transit, we can’t solve the affordable housing problem only in the city. For that to happen, we need to meet together on a more regular basis, more of a team basis, instead of just meeting on a crisis basis.”


Question 2: “Should the city look specifically at the consolidation of police, fire and rescue services?”


Satyendra Huja

: “Yes, I think we should do that.”


David Brown

: “We just had a study look at the possibility of merging the fire departments, and it didn’t come back thinking there were reasons to do that. On the rescue squad issue, I think the city has tried to move a little too fast and we should work more closely with the county to identify what are the performance issues and what are the best strategies for improving them as a region.”


Linda Seaman

: “I would like us to very seriously look at the consolidation of police and fire, and also bring the University into that conversation. As the county urbanizes around the ring of the city, I think they are finding a lot of the services the city provides, they’re going to have to provide too.




Holly Edwards

: “One aspect that would perpetuate the idea of consolidation is having both the county and city agree on what common ground is, and clearly health and safety is common ground for everyone. So, to explore the police, the fire and rescue squad would be a good way to start.”


Jennifer McKeever

: “I would want to research that subject more before I commented further.”


Question 6: “Given several legal and community questions about the viability of the Meadowcreek Parkway, would you support transferring money from the Meadowcreek Parkway to other transportation projects?”


Jennifer McKeever

: “I would like to see that money right now put into city coffers for transportation initiatives. The Parkway is an idea whose time has past.”


Holly Edwards

: “Some of the issues will come to rest by the fall. I’m hoping some of the questions we’ve been asking over the years will finally come to resolution.”




Linda Seaman

: “I favor our building the parkway using the same requirements City Council put on in 1999, and that it be built to certain specifications. We also have an opportunity to develop it as a multi-modal transportation corridor, having it as an HOV road during peak transportation times.”


David Brown

: “I’ve supported the Meadowcreek Parkway in line with the 1999 agreement. I don’t think it’s a yes or no question. The key ingredient for regional transportation will be an Eastern Connector. There’s no doubt that if everyone who wants to go from Pantops to 29 North has to come through the city, we’re always going to have a big problem.”


Satyendra Huja

: “I support the Meadowcreek Parkway because I believe it’s a road that will provide good access to downtown as long as it is designed in a quality manner so that it’s a parkway, not an expressway.”


Question 8: “What is your position on the possibility of converting the Charlottesville Transit Service to a “fare free” system?”


Jennifer McKeever

: “I support that proposal, but we have to make them convenient and desirable alternatives to driving.”


Holly Edwards

: “I’d be interested in learning more about the details in concert with finding out more about which places in the community have higher bus usage than others to see where a free bus service would be most useful.”


Linda Seaman

: “The MPO which is looking into the idea of a regional transit district needs to move that along as quickly as possible. We need to expand the bus service not only within the city, but also out into the county.”




David Brown

: “The cost of the bus didn’t seem to me to be the determining factor on whether people chose to use the bus or not. If going to a fare free bus system does significantly boost ridership, then we should look into that. More important is that it has to be dependable.”


Satyendra Huja

: “We’ve talked about this idea before, I support it, but more than that, buses have to be every fifteen minutes, dependable.”


HIGHLIGHTS  (times correspond with audio in the above podcast)

Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler

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