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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

In the coming month, Charlottesville City Council will face an uncommon — and significant — decision. One of its elected members, Sena Magill, has resigned, leaving the remaining four councilors with the task of replacing her. This appointment will happen outside of an election, which means voters won’t choose their representative — Council will.

This is not unprecedented, and there are state laws governing the process. Basically, Council must appoint someone within 45 days. That person will then serve until the next election, in this case the November election for a councilor who will start in 2024.

Charlottesville’s Council is taking applications for the post until 5 p.m. Monday. So far, eight people have applied. If you’re interested, there’s still time — here’s the link to apply!

Four men and one woman sit at a dais with microphones in front of them talking.
Credit: Screenshot of Jan. 3, 2023 Charlottesville City Council meeting

8 people have applied to be Charlottesville’s next City Council member, here’s who they are

Council members have not yet decided exactly how they will make their selection. The Councilors themselves will ultimately vote, but they’re still working out how they will interview candidates and if they’ll give community members time to meet them.

In the meantime, if you have an opinion on who should be appointed, you can always speak up in the public comment period at the regular Council meetings. The next one is Monday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. Here’s where you can register to speak.

This is a pretty significant decision for Charlottesville because whomever Council appoints will be making significant decisions this year.

A map shows a city with different areas colored in yellow, blue, green, pink and red.
Credit: Courtesy of Cville Plans Together

To start, they’ll be voting on the city’s controversial new zoning ordinance. Charlottesville is in the middle of rewriting its ordinance. Their stated goal is to broadly increase the city’s housing density. For some, this is a much needed step to begin addressing Charlottesville’s affordable housing crisis — or simply to meet the growing demand for housing in the city. Others see it as a move that could destroy the city’s small town character without accomplishing the affordable housing goal. For more on the backstory, check out this article:

City Council just adopted a wildly controversial Future Land Use Map that proposes major increases in allowable housing density across Charlottesville

The process has progressed since that story ran in 2021. The city’s Planning Commission is working on its first draft of the zoning ordinance now. They intend to present that draft to community members and hold public hearings this spring. Once that’s done, they’ll present it to the City Council for a final vote in June (though the timing could change).

A person walks in front of a brick building with columns at the entrance and the word’s “City Hall” hanging above the door.
Credit: Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Another major decision the appointed councilor will vote on this year is whom to hire as a permanent city manager. Charlottesville has been without a permanent city manager since Chip Boyles resigned from the position in October 2021.

Right now the city is operating under the leadership of an interim manager, who actually works for a consulting firm that the local government hired.

Charlottesville has been through six city managers in the last five years. That is an unprecedented level of turnover in the city’s top position — and the upheaval is not limited to the city manager’s office. We’ve also churned through multiple deputy city managers, city attorneys, fire and police chiefs, various department heads, and on down the line. Right now, there are 61 job openings at the city, among them a new city attorney and multiple project managers at the Public Works Department.

The unprecedented turnover in Charlottesville government could have ‘enormous consequences’ for the community — this is how

The new city manager position has not yet been listed, but probably will be soon. City Council decided it wanted to hire a new police chief first. They’ve done that — Michael Kochis took the helm last week.

Now, Council is looking for a search firm to begin the city manager search.

A final note, unrelated to the new city councilor: Charlottesville endured a second shooting this week. Early Tuesday morning a woman was injured in a shooting in the 400 block of Oakmont Street. For a little more information on that shooting, and the one in which a child was injured the day before, here’s a news release from Charlottesville Police.

I hope you have a good weekend, and we’ll be back Tuesday with more Charlottesville news.

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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Jessie Higgins

I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.