A second African-American man has announced he will run for one of the Charlottesville Democratic Committee’s two nominations for the City Council.
“I love Charlottesville, but there are issues that plague us right now that we need to address,” said Melvin A. Grady, a math teacher.
Grady, 44, was introduced by his wife at a campaign event held outside City Hall on Tuesday.
“He’s a native of Charlottesville and takes pride in the world-class city that he calls home,” said Stephanie Grady. “He has seen both the good and the bad, and believes he can bridge the gap in the areas that need improvement in our city.”
Grady joins four other candidates who have filed their paperwork with the Charlottesville Democratic Committee to appear on the June 11 primary ballot.
Incumbent Kristin Szakos handed in signatures on March 8, and was followed by Grady last week. Independent Bob Fenwick, computer science teacher Wes Bellamy and University of Virginia graduate student Adam Lees also have filed with the party.
“We do not expect any other candidates to file but we will not know for sure until 5 p.m. on Thursday,” said Jim Nix, the co-chair of the committee.
Grady attended Greenbrier Elementary and Walker before graduating from Charlottesville High School in 1986. He said he struggled academically to get his degree, but persevered.
Following graduation from UVa in 1994, Grady spent six months on a peacekeeping mission in Egypt with the Army National Guard. He initially thought he would pursue a career in engineering or
banking, but his professional life diverted when he became a substitute teacher.
“The students would say, ‘Mr. Grady, you show us better than the teacher does and show us a way we can learn,’” Grady said.
Grady attended James Madison University to get his teaching certificate and worked for Albemarle County before landing his job at Buford Middle School, where he teaches algebra.
One issue he touted is early childhood education.
“I see it first-hand how students who don’t have a leg up when they are 3 or 4 years old, they get behind and it continues,” Grady said.
Affordable housing is another big issue, Grady said.
“I bought a house six years ago and I make a decent wage as a teacher but I’m still barely making it,” Grady said. “I can imagine a person who is working who doesn’t make as much money trying to afford it.”
While Grady has never before sought elected office, his uncle Charles Barbour became the first African-American elected to the City Council in 1970. Barbour was chosen as mayor four years later.
“I was 6 years old, and I recall feeling utter pride about having an uncle who was mayor,” Grady said.
Grady said he was motivated to run after reading a weekly newspaper’s recent cover story on four African-American men working to improve the community, and after learning that Dave Norris was not seeking another term.
“I’m not political, but I’m savvy enough, logical enough and smart enough that I can do the job if voted into office,” Grady said. “I asked people what they thought, was hesitant, but once I committed I had support from students, teachers and parents.”
Meanwhile, the chair of the Charlottesville Republican Committee said he is hopeful his party can find candidates for this year.
“Any candidates for City Council will be nominated at the mass meeting [on April 27],” said Charles “Buddy” Weber.
Republicans have not fielded a candidate since 2006, when incumbent Rob Schilling was defeated.