A University of Virginia graduate student made his City Council campaign official Tuesday.
“I have now qualified for and intend to pursue the Democratic nomination for Charlottesville City Council,” said Adam Lees, a master’s candidate in foreign affairs.
Lees, 24, made his announcement on the steps of the Rotunda.
“I stand here preparing to be baptized by fire into local politics,” Lees said, invoking Thomas Jefferson’s legacy of representative government.
Some of Lees’ fellow congregants at St. Paul’s Memorial Church attended his announcement.
“I know Adam through some church activities and I know how loyal he is to whatever cause he may be involved in,” said Max Davis of Albemarle. “He looks young but he’s very mature in thought.”
“I will strive to bring all of the voices of this city together as we work to improve public transportation, as we work to expand education and job opportunities for youth and adults, and we put the city back on track to find a dignified solution to homelessness,” Lees said.
Lees said the community has resources such as the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center to help people develop work skills.
“What I would like to explore is creating a program using some of the funds in the education budget to provide scholarships to young adults and link them up with local businesses,” Lees said.
Solving problems in public transit will be challenging, Lees said.
“We don’t really have the density enough to really support public transit,” Lees said. “We will have to coordinate greatly with Albemarle County.”
Four other candidates are seeking one of two Democratic nominations in the June 11 primary. They are incumbent Kristin Szakos; Buford Middle School teacher Melvin Grady; Albemarle High
School teacher Wes Bellamy; and Bob Fenwick, a general contractor who ran for the council unsuccessfully as an independent in the last two elections.
“To my recollection, we have not had a student run in the time since I’ve been here,” said Linda Seaman, co-chairwoman of the Charlottesville Democratic Committee. “I think it brings another dimension to the race.”
Seaman said she is pleased that more young people might become involved in local politics.
“Many of these students live here for quite a period of time and it’s wonderful to have them involved,” Seaman said.