In Virginia, Boards of Supervisors govern counties and are elected for four-year terms. Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors has six members, one for each district. Mike O. D. Pruitt is running for the seat formerly held by chair Donna Price, who announced last year that she will not seek another term.
Pruitt is the only candidate certified by the Virginia Department of Elections for the open seat representing the Scottsville District, though voters can write in other candidates’ names if they choose.
What are one or two of the biggest challenges you see facing Albemarle County? How would you as a supervisor address them?
Mike Pruitt: It’s no secret that the rising cost of living, exemplified in our housing crisis, animates my campaign. I see this as two mutually entangled issues: rising housing costs and an ever-tightening squeeze on the working class. To fill our housing gap, the Board needs to make it easier to build homes where people want to work and live in the urban ring. To make housing accessible at every step of life, every rung on the income ladder, we need to make generational investments into housing and build a robust housing trust. Finally, we need to continue our push to attract businesses that provide meaningful blue collar and “new collar” careers while strengthening training pathways into these sectors.
Albemarle County saw a roughly 20% increase in assessed property values in two years — 13% in 2023 and 8% in 2022. What is your position on the county’s tax rates and how would you spend any increased revenue?
Pruitt: Our sharp rise in assessments is the direct result of a failure to handle our housing crisis. So long as growing costs and onerous zoning strictures keep housing inventory low as demand swells, assessments will continue to shoot up. Simply lowering the tax rate wouldn’t address this root cause, but it would undermine our critical capital investments, including long overdue school projects. As a homeowner living off a Veterans Affairs stipend, I know these increases sting — but shortsighted calls to offset a temporary spike with a tax rate reduction would consign students at Mountain View to another decade learning in trailers.
Voters have asked about broadband internet access and speeds in Albemarle County. Can the Board of Supervisors do anything to help?
Pruitt: The Board has made incredible strides toward extending broadband coverage to all of rural Albemarle. Last term produced a major multi-partner public-private partnership between the County, Firefly, Dominion, and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative to establish a fiber backbone with “last mile” connections. There’s plenty to be optimistic about. The role of the Board from here on is also about the “last mile” — continued evaluation of the project’s progress to ensure citizen needs are prioritized and met. I also plan to explore whether this new service can provide alternatives to rural southside residents dissatisfied with their service through CenturyLink/Brightspeed.
A county report showed climate change will have devastating effects on agriculture and flooding in the coming decade. What would you as a supervisor do to prepare?
Pruitt: Our district is particularly vulnerable to climate change — many rural roads wash out during heavy rains, our farms suffer from shifting temperatures, and the lines on the walls of downtown Scottsville remind us of the danger a 100-year flood poses. Like any crisis, climate will impact our most vulnerable communities first and hardest — preparedness must be people-focused and attentive to the health and well-being of those voices that might fall through the cracks. I hope to use every tool available to manage our climate future, including expanding public transit options, utility-scale renewables, and preserving tree canopies and riparian buffers.
Gun violence is rising in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. What do you believe local government can do to address this public health crisis?
Pruitt: I believe in strategies that build neighborhoods where violence doesn’t occur. That means expanding gun safety resources, supporting community mental health, and ensuring our social safety net is robust enough to catch folks before they’re ever desperate enough that a gun looks like a solution. It means engaging violence in our community effectively by focusing on community policing strategies, violence interrupters, and multi-modal crisis response. Where a divided statehouse has failed to deliver Community Services Board funding and fully fund Marcus Alert, I believe we must step in. Richmond may believe it has time to wait, but I don’t.
Editor’s note: Here’s more about this year’s budget from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, via the Daily Progress. The budget includes increased salaries for employees of Community Services Boards; Albemarle County is part of the Region Ten Community Service Board. Here’s the state website about the Marcus Alert program to provide behavioral health responses to calls to law enforcement.
Do you support building more solar farms in central Virginia? What would you do to encourage or discourage such projects in Albemarle County?
Pruitt: Our best possible energy future is clean, reliable, renewable, and local — I believe solar can deliver on these criteria better than any current alternative. Today, these projects are ad hoc, case-by-case affairs, however. That makes planning time consuming and uncertain for developers while also leaving no regulatory standards to minimize disruption to our natural resources and impact to farmland. I support the County’s ongoing effort to systematize this process in the hopes that we can both streamline approval and guarantee sites follow best practices to safeguard our community against potential negative consequences down the line.
More about Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors
- Pruitt’s campaign contributions from the Virginia Public Access Project
- More about Pruitt’s announcement to run from Information Charlottesville
- The LGBTQ+ Victory Fund says Pruitt is the first openly bisexual man to run for the Board of Supervisors
- More about the primaries results in Charlottesville and Albemarle County from Charlottesville Tomorrow
- A Q&A with Pruitt in the Daily Progress
As you get ready to vote, here are some key dates and links from the Virginia Department of Elections:
Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, night. The Virginia Department of Elections will publish election results in real time, as they arrive from precincts around the state. To view them, head to this link. These are unofficial results until they are certified. Here’s more about how to get election results.
- Sept. 22: First day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office.
- Oct. 16: Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration. You can also register after this date, and on election day, but you will vote with a provisional ballot, could take longer for officials to count because they will verify your eligibility.
- Oct. 27: Deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you. Your request must be received by your local registrar by 5:00 p.m.
- Oct. 28: Voter registration offices open for early voting.
- Nov. 4: The last day of in-person early voting at your registrar.
- Nov. 7: Election Day. Here is where you can find your polling place.
Need to know if you’re eligible to vote? Here are resources from the Virginia Department of Elections.