By Brian Wheeler
Monday, February 21, 2011
Charlottesville Vice Mayor
announced Monday that she would not seek election to a second term on
Charlottesville City Council
. Edwards was a newcomer to politics when first elected to council in November 2007.
Edwards said there was no single reason why she had decided not to run, but that she was looking forward to having more time to focus on her family and career. She was joined at the announcement held at the Crescent Halls community room by her four daughters and her husband.
Edwards said the decision not to run for re-election was a difficult one which she made in consultation with her family. Edwards, who turns 51 next month, pledged to remain active in city affairs.
“I was feeling as if I had accomplished a few things that were important on council and I was ready to move on and focus on my family and my professional life,” said Edwards in an interview. “I want to get back to my work in the community that got me interested in running for city council in the first place.”
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Edwards is currently a nurse working with the
Jefferson Area Board for Agin
g at the Crescent Hall and Westhaven public housing sites.
“I was working for the
Public Housing Association of Residents
before my term began, then I moved into an advisory role,” said Edwards. “I would like to do more mentoring. What I have learned from taking care of public housing residents has helped me to grow, by walking with them though their journeys and successes.”
Edwards said that over the past three years her work on council has resulted in a lot of “character-building experiences.” She highlighted her work on the
Dialogue on Race
and her service on over 10 boards and commissions.
With about 10 months remaining in her term, Edwards called on council to focus on several priorities including the redevelopment of public housing, workforce development, employment opportunities for felons, and healthcare for the medically underserved. She also called for council to make an apology for Charlottesville’s past “urban renewal” initiatives which relocated African-American residents and business owners from neighborhoods like Vinegar Hill in the 1960s.
Edwards also mentioned that she was the first city councilor to serve on the expanded board of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority. On
, Edwards joined Mayor
in voting against having a much larger dam built at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir as part of the fifty-year community water supply plan.
At that meeting
, a majority of councilors endorsed building a larger reservoir and council will vote Tuesday on the question of whether the water plan will feature an all-new earthen dam or a concrete extension of the dam originally built in 1908. At recent council meetings, Edwards has had little to say about the water debate.
“I haven’t given much voice to that because …it was my hope that we would be able to use the dam we have and just build upon that,” said Edwards. “I have no interest in building an entirely new dam.”
Edwards also joined Norris in voting against the
road project. Both councilors voted against the parkway at least three times on items from the
, to the
granting of construction easements
for the portion of the road on city land in Albemarle County.
The June 2, 2008 vote on the easement was largely responsible for an
which challenged whether a supermajority vote (4 votes on a 5 member body) was required by council to convey public land to VDOT.
The water plan and the Meadowcreek Parkway have been two issues that have deeply divided city and county officials during Edwards tenure. In her remarks, Edwards called for “building bridges” in the city-county relationship.
“I was hoping for a closer collaboration [with Albemarle], even consolidation between our police force, to develop a metropolitan police force, and the consolidation of social services,” said Edwards. “I do look forward to seeing the future collaboration of successful services between the two [localities].”
Edwards said she has learned a lot more about the “city-county dynamic” while serving on council.
“In many ways our goals are the same…but the city and county really have two different cultures and different sets of values,” said Edwards. “I think because the values are different we are not really able to collaborate in some areas or consolidate in others.”
“Some of the environmental issues that we embrace, the county may also agree with, but they don’t have the level of passion that’s in the city,” she said.
A democrat, Edwards was elected to her first term on council in November 2007 along with fellow party members
. Brown announced last year he would not run for a third term. Huja has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election to a second term in 2011.
Edwards challenged other community members to serve in local government and said she would like to see other African-Americans pursue seats on city council.
“I don’t take for granted all the work that has been done by the African-Americans in the community, both past and present,” said Edwards. “I know that I stand on the shoulders of those that opened doors many, many years ago, but there is still much work to be done, history to be made, and there are still questions that haven’t been asked yet. We must rise to the occasion.”
Edwards’ current term ends on December 31, 2011, but she said she should not be viewed as a lame duck.
“Lame duck? I quack not,” said Edwards. “My philosophy has always been you are only as good as your last day of work.”