On September 12th, twelve candidates for both the Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors crowded onto a dais at the Senior Center for a joint forum. About fifty people attended the event, which was sponsored by the
Senior Statesmen of Virginia
Moderator Don Wells told the crowd that the Senior Statesmen feel it’s important for there to be a forum that encompasses the whole city and the county. While many other candidate events are scheduled before the November 6 election, this is the only time that both sets of candidates will appear on the same stage.
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schedule of upcoming candidate forums. A complete transcript of this candidate forum will be posted here in the near future.
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“I’m not happy with the direction our county’s been going in,” he said, adding that the current make-up of the Board of Supervisors has sacrificed the rural nature of the county in favor of growth.
“I’ve been concerned about the long-term future of our county,” she said. “Many [voters] say they want the growth to slow down.” She said the board needs to vote based on how constituents want, rather than what the Supervisors themselves think.
“I’m running basically because we have unfinished business in Albemarle County,” he said. He said his major issues are affordable housing, expanding transit to the County, and for protecting rural areas.
Wyant listed his experience as an engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation as a major reason why he deserves a second term. He said he’s proud of the work he’s done to get rural land placed into conservation easements, either through the County’s Acquisition of Easements place.
“As I talk to voters, they’re very concerned about the incredible changes happening in their lives,” he said. King said he’s running for office to help improve the area’s water supply, and said the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s 50-year water supply plan is flawed.
Joseph said she’s worked for both the City and the County, and has a long history of serving on various boards and commissions. “The reason I’m running is that there have been some decisions made by the Board that I don’t agree with,” she said. “It’s important to make sure development doesn’t place a burden on the people who already live here.”
“There’s a lot going on in this community that everyone up here as an incumbent has helped to bring about,” Boyd said. He’s voted for increased teacher salaries, lower tax rates, and the 50 year water supply plan. He said he deserves another term to help continue his work.
David Brown (D-Charlottesville)
Brown said one of his first votes was to move elections to November, allowing such a joint forum where City and County issues could be discussed at the same time. “You can’t really discuss any of these issues in isolation,” he said. “City and County issues are interwoven, and the City has a real interest in seeing the beauty of the County preserved.”
Huja cited his 31 years working for the City, and said he would work on five issues if elected.
Strengthening neighborhoods, preserving the environment, promoting balanced transportation options, regional affordable housing solutions, and to ensure a quality education for City students.
“I’m doing this because I’m concerned about things are happening in the City,” she said. Haskins said that the structure of the City needed to be changed to make it more fair to City Residents, who she said are paying far too much in taxes to fund City services.
Kleeman cited his experience as a frequent commenter at area public meetings as one reason why he should be elected. “Charlottesville is the center of a rapidly growing area, and we need to do smart growth,” he said. Kleeman added that uncontrolled growth threatens open spaces and water quality.
Edwards said the Democratic theme of “Building Better Community” is one worth supporting. “I believe that the entire community is as strong as its neighborhoods,” she said. Edwards said the foundation for her campaign begins at her home, with two sets of twins currently growing up in Charlottesville.
“For both City and County Candidates, what is your position on consolidating City and County Governments?”
: “A marriage between the City and County before the courtship is over may give birth to an idea that we’re not able to support.”
: “There are many services we can coordinate,” and listed transit, parks, as two examples
“I think the City and the County are two different entities on two different paths,” but said cooperation should occur in areas that cross jurisdictional boundaries. He suggested a task force to explore these issues in more detail.
“If you compare what the City is offering and what the County is offering, you’d kind of have to be crazy in the County to just want to take on some of the financial burden that the City is carrying for the region.”
“The City and County are two pretty different but they’re coming more alike all the time. I think we’re going to see more and more cooperation as time goes by.”
“Coming from a business background, I’m always interested in anything we can do to provide more efficiency to our community.” He pointed to the joint water supply, joint prison facilities and the current discussions to develop a Regional Transit Authority.
“For the last year or so, the Albemarle County Planning Commission has been meeting with the Charlottesville Planning Commission.” Joseph added that the University of Virginia also needs to be part of the discussion.
“I believe that the relationship between City and County is a continuing effort to continually strengthen and share ideas… I believe that the ultimate goal is to save the taxpayer money and to get the most services that we can provide our citizens.”
“I think it is a chance for us to do some of the services jointly, together.” He said fire and rescue services are one area where he personally has extended cooperation, and suggested the leadership of both the City Council and the County Board should meet regularly.
“I don’t think that’s it’s going to happen any time soon. People are reluctant to give up positions of power.” Dorrier also suggested that the County and City revisit the revenue sharing agreement.
“It’s not in the cards any time soon. But that doesn’t mean that the people are different or should be kept separate.” She said the Metropolitan Planning Organization is one area where cooperation is happening on transportation planning.
“Our greatest hope is to cooperate on traffic, water and affordable housing.”
What will you do to address the area’s water, sewer and traffic problems?
: Supports 50-year water supply plan, but says funding is an issue. He suggests the Board of Supervisors need to reclaim money from developers to help pay for the plan.
“We have not faced up to our responsibilities to anticipate that our 50 year old water pipes and sewer pipes are not going to last forever, so now we’re facing a perfect storm of investment.”
“We’ve been talking about the Meadowcreek Parkway for thirty years, and it’s still not built…The system is broken and the local Supervisors and Council members need to fix it.”
“The American Society of Civil Engineers years ago identified infrastructure problems coming. Four years ago on my campaign I said this is the problem we’re going to be facing in society.”
“I believe it’s time we stop playing catch-up… We’re catching up to the demands that we can’t even meet. I think the only way to do that is to have a much longer vision into the way we grow our county.”
: “We have to start thinking about what is the carrying capacity of the area in terms of water and sewer.”
“I can tell you that the Board of Supervisors and I know the City Council has not been ignoring the problem [of water]… After getting elected, I ran into the brick wall, the brick wall of eleven different federal and state regulatory authorities.”
“We need to have more density in places where people don’t need to use their car, and that means the City needs to grow in, the City needs to have more density along certain areas where people can walk to work or take buses… One of the things the City and County will have to do is work together and create a transportation district to build our own roads.”
“Within the current confines, we’re very, very limited… the City’s sewage lines are very old and by not replacing them we’re taxing the water supply… There needs to be a commitment on the part of the City to not neglect the infrastructure.”
“What we need to do is to take long-range plans which relate to how we grow and break that down into some smaller time increments so we can have more immediate targets.”
“I think conservation efforts on a grass roots level should be ongoing and a campaign on that level should be ongoing and not just during periods of drought… I think we need to create a culture where health and wellness also includes days when you leave your car at home.”
“We need to also think of the demand side of the equation… People can work in their homes… there’s also an issue of how you develop land, and how we develop growth and where we locate it.”
Question #3 (county candidates):
In the face of current water restrictions, why are 3,000 homes being approved for construction in Biscuit Run before a new reservoir is built?
: Declined to answer because the matter was before the Board that evening.
“We [on the Planning Commission] asked the question to the [Albemarle County] Service Authority… and we were assured that there was enough water.”
“There are hundreds and hundreds of citizens concerned about Biscuit Run and the issue of water continues to come up.”
“I want to know that the resources are there to support what ever is done in the County,” but declined to answer in detail because of Biscuit Run further in public.
Declined to answer because the matter was before the Board that evening.
“This question is another example of how we’re thinking more about our future residents than our present ones.”
“I don’t see how they can approve of this rezoning tonight when in actuality the water plan has not been approved yet.”
Question #4: (city candidates)
Do you believe that it is appropriate for local governments to prepare and present resolutions to the Federal Government concerning impeachment and war issues?
“I think our resolutions should be limited to issues that affect people locally…”
“There’s no way you can make a political statement like that without leaving out a lot of the citizens.”
“I do not believe issues of conscience should necessarily be determined by majority vote.”
Indicated agreement with Kleeman.
Indicated agreement with Edwards and Kleeman.
Question #5: (county candidates)
Is it appropriate for a supervisor to make an appointment to the Planning Commission and later accept a large contribution from the appointed commissioner?
: “There are no rules against it, so I guess it’s okay”
“We do not have restrictions on campaign contribution of of any type in local races.”
“I don’t think that just because a person is appointed to the Planning Commission and gives a contribution back to the candidate that there’s anything wrong.”
“I appointed my Planning Commission person because of expertise in the area he works in. He’s a land conversation easement attorney… And that was an appointment with no strings attached.”
“When I read the article in the newspaper… I was jealous…”
“It was an honest contribution. I don’t have a problem with it.”
“This is perfectly within the campaign finance laws, and it was disclosed properly.”
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler