“I believe strongly in our democratic and free system of government, and I recognize that good governance on the local level is essential for a healthy democracy,” Palmer said Wednesday.
Palmer will face Republican John Lowry in the Nov. 7 general election unless another member of Lowry’s party comes forward to challenge him for the nomination. Lowry, a retired businessman, also ran for the seat as an independent in 2009 but lost to Republican Duane Snow.
Palmer was joined on the steps of the Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road by Supervisors Norman Dill, Diantha McKeel and Rick Randolph, as well as Graham Paige, the Samuel Miller District representative on the county School Board.
Also in attendance at Palmer’s campaign launch was Ned Gallaway, a Democratic candidate for the Rio District seat being vacated by Supervisor Brad Sheffield. Gallaway is a former member of the School Board who unsuccessfully ran for Virginia 17th District Senate seat in 2015.
McKeel was elected as an independent in the Jack Jouett District in 2013 but is running as a Democrat this year.
There are currently no Republican candidates yet for either the Jack Jouett District or the Rio District, but that could change later this spring.
“Our committee continues to consult with other potential candidates in advance of a mass meeting scheduled for May 16,” said George Urban, chairman of the Albemarle County Republican Committee.
Albemarle County Democrats will hold a caucus if there are contested races but the event has not yet been scheduled.
Independent candidates seeking to run for supervisor have until June 13 to complete paperwork and submit petitions to be on the ballot. That includes all School Board candidates, who are not nominated by political party.
School Board incumbent Kate Acuff is seeking a second term to represent Jack Jouett and currently does not face a challenger. Pam Moynihan will not seek an additional term to represent the Rio District. Mary McIntyre, a literary instructor at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School, has filed paperwork with the county registrar in the election to succeed her.
“Consider how much we love the country we live in, the commonwealth we live in and the county we live in, [as well as] how much we need to protect it,” Dittmar said. “That requires an engaged citizenry and it requires committed public servants.”
Dittmar said she’s known Palmer since before both of them were elected to the board in 2013.
“We were working as community leaders to help our political leaders with the Ragged Mountain Dam and the 50-year water supply,” Dittmar said. “Our efforts, along with hundreds of other people, made it happen.
Dittmar also credited Palmer for her support for keeping Albemarle County’s courts in downtown Charlottesville.
A majority of the board has voted to explore relocating county courts to another location inside of Albemarle, but Palmer and Dill both have stated they want them to remain.
“We have been planning infrastructure improvements for the court complex for 20 years now,” Palmer said. “The time has come to make the improvements. The people working in the court system, as well as our citizens, deserve a safe and accessible court complex, but they should be co-located.”
Assistant County Executive Lee Catlin said the county is currently selecting a consultant who can provide guidance in exploring several options for relocating the courts, as well as the county’s main office building.
“We are hoping to provide an update to the board in April or May,” Catlin said.
Palmer said Albemarle County should partner with the city of Charlottesville when it can.
“We are geographically, historically and culturally joined at the hip,” Palmer said. “We have to work to solve congestion by increasing public transportation, [as well as] bike and walking routes.”
In 2013, Palmer ran on a campaign platform to halt the Western Bypass, a project that had been brought back to life by the Board of Supervisors in June 2011.
“With community support, we did stop the Western Bypass and built a grade-separated interchange at Rio Road and U.S. 29, as well as other significant improvements to the corridor,” Palmer said.
Palmer said another campaign promise was to launch video streams of all Board of Supervisors meetings. This year, the county began broadcasting meetings from a frequently used conference room, in addition to Lane Auditorium.