Democratic City Council candidate Lena Seville wants Charlottesville officials to take the health of the environment into consideration every time they make a decision.

“Often, you see environmental concerns as a stand-alone item or as an afterthought, and I want to have it as part of the decision-making process from the very beginning,” Seville said at a news conference Monday. “We need to ask these questions and make sure it’s part of the process.”

Seville, 46, is one of five people seeking three Democratic nominations to the City Council in the June 9 primary.

A student of environmental science at the University of Virginia, Seville won the Wallace-Poole prize in 2005 as the outstanding undergraduate in the department. Candidates for the prize must have a GPA greater than 3.8. Seville, who said she still needs a few more credits to graduate, points to courses in the environmental thought and practice program as inspiration for becoming a candidate.

“It’s economics, government and urban planning classes that teach you how to take the science and bring it into the decision-making process,” Seville said.

Seville has worked with the Sierra Club on its initiative to remove pesticides from all city parks and schoolyards. She said she was disappointed by a recent decision by the council to continue using pesticides.

“The Charlottesville Department of Parks and Recreation proposed an organic landscape initiative that unfortunately City Council chose not to pass,” Seville said. “We haven’t made any improvements in the reduction of chemicals.”

Seville was referring to an April 20 vote by the council to adopt an integrated pest management policy.

Councilor Dede Smith, who is running for re-election, said in email to Charlottesville Tomorrow that she added language to that resolution which establishes that the city is “committed to reducing overall pesticide use in and on city school grounds and in city parks.”

The resolution will also require the parks department to submit an annual report each March listing what chemicals are used and at what times.

At the time, Councilor Kathy Galvin said she was concerned eliminating pesticides outright would eliminate one tool to get rid of invasive species. Galvin is also running for re-election.

Challenger Michael Signer said he will discuss the issue as part of a campaign event on environmental issues on Tuesday.

“As a new member of City Council, I will be eager to explore how we can effectively apply in the city the EPA’s Integrated Pest Management standards, as well as lessons learned about the economic and performance of Albemarle County’s 2008 Safer Chemical Management Procedure,” Signer said.

Challenger Wes Bellamy could not be reached for comment.

Seville has the support of one former candidate for the City Council.

“Lena’s initiatives on the environment would help council become the environmentally friendly city it wishes to be,” said Peter Kleeman, who ran as an independent in 2007. “Her proposal to have an environmental impact included on all staff reports recommending council action will keep a continuing focus on environmental protection and community well-being.”

Campaign Fundraising

Seville has thus far received the smallest amount of campaign donations of the five candidates, according to data provided by the Virginia Public Access Project.

Seville has raised $1,416 in the first three months of the year with two $500 donations.

Galvin has raised $4,178, including an $800 contribution from former planning commissioner William Lucy. In all, she received nine donations in excess of $100.

Smith has raised $4,938, including a personal contribution of $2,000. Three other people contributed more than $100 each.

Challenger Wes Bellamy has raised $8,204, including a $1,000 contribution from Roberta B. Williamson. In all, Bellamy had 13 contributions over $100.

Fellow challenger Michael Signer has raised $17,415 and has a $10,000 contribution coming from the New Dominion Project, a political action committee chaired by Signer that includes funds from his 2009 lieutenant governor’s campaign. The New Dominion Project also received from funds from another PAC created for a possible attorney general campaign in 2013, but Signer opted not to run that year. 

In this campaign finance period, he also had 22 other contributions over $100.

The next campaign finance reports are due June 1.

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