By Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The three Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination for the two open seats on the Charlottesville City Council have held their final debate before an open primary on Saturday, May 9, 2009. Incumbents

Dave Norris

and

Julian Taliaferro

along with challenger

Kristin Szakos

spent an hour answering questions at the party’s candidates’ forum on May 6, 2009.


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Video: City Council Candidate Forum #2

Mayor Dave Norris said that if he is re-elected, he looks forward to the revitalization of the City’s public housing sites. He says redevelopment will be the community’s “best opportunity” to increase the amount of affordable housing units. Norris also said he would like Council to have more authority over the hiring and firing  of City department heads.

Challenger Kristin Szakos called for holding City Council meetings outside of Council Chambers, meetings where dinner and childcare would be made available to attendees. Szakos also said she supported a dedicated City fund for affordable housing, called for the upgrading of the Charlottesville Transit System to a “more urban” system, and said she would be a careful watchdog of City staff.

Incumbent Julian Taliaferro said he wanted to complete the community’s 50-year water supply plan, defended his unwillingness to support a dedicated affordable housing fund, and said he has the experience to help the City through the next few years of economic turmoil. Taliaferro also said he is capable of standing up to City Manager Gary O’Connell.

Moderator Sean McCord had the opportunity to ask questions on current issues facing the City. None of the candidates felt the City had the responsibility to help complete the abandoned Landmark Hotel project on the Downtown Mall.

On the topic of the

Hillsdale Drive/Regal Cinema 4 expansion issue

, Norris said a “communications breakdown” between City staff and the developers has lead to a misunderstanding that he said could be solved by moving the road’s alignment. Szakos said the City did not do a good job of bringing all the stakeholders together to explain the road’s purpose. Taliaferro did not directly answer this question, but did explain why he continued to be a supporter of the Meadowcreek Parkway.

Saturday’s

unassembled caucus will be held from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM at Burley Middle School on Rose Hill Drive in Charlottesville

. Registered City voters can participate as long as they are willing to sign a loyalty pledge that says they will not support another party’s candidate or an independent candidate in the general election.

See Charlottesville Tomorrow’s

Election Watch page

for complete coverage of the City’s 2009 elections.


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