7 Democrats seeking 3 nominations for City Council

By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The deadline to file candidacy papers with the

Charlottesville Democratic Party

has passed, and seven people will stand in the race for the party’s three nominations to the

City Council


“We’re very pleased there is such an enthusiastic response,” said James Nix, the party’s co-chair.

The nominations will be decided during an “unassembled caucus” on Aug. 20 at

Burley Middle School

. The event, also known as a “firehouse primary,” will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Any registered voter who signs a Democratic declaration form is eligible to cast a ballot in the primary.

City Councilor

Satyendra Huja

is the lone incumbent in the race. The other candidates are current School Board members

Colette Blount


Kathleen Galvin

, former School Board member

Dede Smith

, and newcomers

Paul Beyer


Brevy Cannon


James Halfaday


An eighth candidate,

Peter McIntosh

, withdrew from the race in June.

“I was particularly impressed with the number of unfamiliar faces that showed up at the candidate announcements,” Nix said. “We take that as evidence that young people are interested in this race. I’m hoping we can keep them involved no matter the result of the primary.”

The three Democrats who are nominated will face at least four independent candidates in the Nov. 8 general election.

Bob Fenwick


Andrew Williams

both ran in 2009.

Scott Bandy


Brandon Collins

are newcomers to city elections.

No Republicans have so far come forward to contest the race. The deadline to submit paperwork with the city’s registrar is Aug. 23.


Holly Edwards

declined to seek a second term on council, and Councilor

David Brown

is stepping down after two terms.


Dave Norris

, whose own term on the council runs through 2013, attended the candidate announcements of Blount, Cannon and Smith and has endorsed them on his Facebook page.

In February, the City Council approved, by a 3-2 vote, the construction of a new earthen dam at the

Ragged Mountain Reservoir

as part of the 50-year community water supply plan. Norris voted against the plan and seeks instead to increase the community’s water storage by dredging the

South Fork Rivanna Reservoir


Smith is a member of the group

Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan

, which has urged council to change its support for the adopted plan. Blount has said she would support dredging, as has Halfaday.

However, Huja, Galvin and Beyer have all indicated their preference to go forward with the plan.

Cannon has so far not taken a stand in public on the matter.

In 2009, Fenwick campaigned on a dredge-first platform.

Nix said he was not worried the party would be split by candidates’ diverging views on the water plan.

“I’m sure that all of the candidates are loyal Democrats and no matter who wins, they’ll run together on the Democratic ticket,” Nix said. “Anyone coming forward as a candidate has to sign a form saying they will not support anyone not named by the Democrats.”

Norris could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

The party will also allow absentee voting on two dates. Those who can swear they will not be able to make the Aug. 20 primary will be allowed to select candidates from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 9 and Aug. 18 at the Independence Resource Center on Cherry Avenue.

The primary will use an instant run-off process to select the three candidates. Each voter will be asked to rank their choices 1 through 7. Larry Richards, the caucus’s head teller and an engineering professor at the University of Virginia, has developed software to calculate the three winners.

Nix said he expected attendance to range between 2,500 and 3,000 Democrats.

The candidates will participate in a July 20 forum co-hosted by Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress. That event will also take place at Burley Middle School.

This will be the second time city Democrats will use the firehouse primary format to nominate candidates. In 2007, over 1,600 people participated in the unassembled caucus, according to Nix.

In that contest, incumbent

Julian Taliaferro

came in third behind Norris and challenge

Kristin Szakos

and was knocked out of the general election.

Three candidates are also in the race to become the party’s nominee for clerk of Circuit Court. Incumbent

Paul Garrett

is facing a challenge from School Board member

Llezelle Dugger


Pam Melampy

, a deputy clerk in the Albemarle County Circuit Court.