Democrats’ election season gets underway
Starting at noon Monday, candidates for the two Democratic nominations for the Charlottesville City Council arrived at the home of party co-chairwoman Linda Seaman to turn in their paperwork.
The field so far includes incumbent Kristin Szakos; a former independent council candidate; an African-American community organizer; and, possibly, a UVa graduate student. The primary is June 11.
Dave Norris opted against a third council run, making room for at least one new face.
To get on the primary ballot, contenders must turn in a declaration of candidacy, a receipt for a filing fee from the city Treasurer’s Office and a petition signed by at least 125 city voters.
Community organizer Wes Bellamy was among several who circulated petitions Saturday. He plans to announce his candidacy at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Tonsler Park Recreation Center.
“I have proven that I can be a leader in this community,” Bellamy said in a news release.
He is the executive director of ., a nonprofit group that seeks to improve the lives of youths through boxing and other physical activities.
A self-described Republican who twice ran unsuccessfully for the council as an independent also turned out Saturday with a petition to run as a Democrat this time around.
“I am being encouraged by a lot of people so I am seriously considering it, and I am collecting signatures and expect to make an announcement [shortly],” said Bob Fenwick, who ran in 2009 and 2011.
Fenwick said his platform of public safety, encouraging small businesses and promoting open government would appeal to Democrats.
UVa graduate student Adam Lees also has said he plans to seek the Democratic nomination. He did not turn in his paperwork Monday.
To appear on the primary ballot, candidates must sign up with the party by March 28.
“I think there are a lot of good qualified candidates,” said Lisa Green, Szakos’ campaign manager.
The ballot order is determined on a first-come, first-served basis. Green was the first campaign representative on hand Monday when party officials opened up their nominating window. Szakos’ name will appear at the top of the primary ballot.
“It’s not a statistical guarantee of success,” Green said. “But when your name is first on the ballot, that’s what voters will first see.”
Because Todd Divers and Jonathan Stevens , both seeking to replace Lee Richards as commissioner of the revenue, arrived at Seaman’s home at the same time, the Charlottesville Electoral Board
will draw lots to determine whose name appears first on the primary ballot.
“At least this way I get a 50-50 crack at it,” Stevens said.
A representative for Dave Chapman was on hand shortly before noon to officially register the prosecutor’s campaign for the city commonwealth’s attorney.
A former appointed member of the city School Board, Seaman ran in 2007. That was the last year the party held a caucus to choose candidates.
Seaman placed fourth behind Satyendra Huja, Holly Edwards and David Brown. All three won in the general election that year.
In 2009 and 2011, the city Democrats opted to hold an unassembled caucus known as a “firehouse primary” to selects candidates. The party decided this year to hold its nominating contest during the statewide Democratic primary because of a competitive race for lieutenant governor.