Last night at a forum sponsored in part by Charlottesville Tomorrow, current city Mayor Dave Norris affirmed his place as the lead candidate for one of the two spots in the upcoming city council election (as well as for the Democratic primary, scheduled for May 9). Before a small gathering in Burley Middle School’s auditorium, Norris consistently outlined his agenda for a better Charlottesville, starting with his plan—if he is re-elected—to revitalize the city’s public housing developments. “This is our best opportunity for expanding both the quantity and quality of affordable housing in our community,” he said from the stage. “It’s the best opportunity for changing the very dynamics of poverty in our community, moving away from … the failed model of segregating people by income, which too often means segregating people by race.” Instead of the current system, Norris proposes one which would create a mixed-income, integrated neighborhood that would maximize available space.
Norris was joined on the stage by Councilor Julian Taliaferro and challenger Kristin Szakos. While the former emphasized his concern over the 13.2 percent dropout rate in the city school system, Szakos said she is running because of her concern about the “city’s responsiveness to its citizens.”
Overall, there was great agreement among the three candidates, with the major difference concerning the embattled Meadowcreek Parkway. On that question, Norris again distinguished himself with a reasoned but strong response that detailed his opposition. “I don’t see what the city gets from this deal,” he said. “We’re putting a huge swath of asphalt through our largest park” that “will clog downtown streets” and “drive a stake through the downtown renaissance.”