Did you people compare notes? C-VILLE recently asked 11—well, 10 (see page 13)—City Council candidates to respond to the same question: “What is Charlottesville’s most valuable resource, and how do you propose to protect it?” A majority responded, “people.”
Granted, there were a few variations on the theme—“children,” “the individual citizen,” “community,” “the Charlottesville resident.” We thought that word “resource” might steer some aspiring local politicians towards a few buzzed-about issues like the Meadow Creek Parkway or the community water supply plan; it turns out that we were wrong.
Asked how they would protect the people, however, a few candidates showed differences in their methods. Compare, contrast and consider their responses, and be sure to vote during Charlottesville’s August 20 Democratic Firehouse Primary.
“What is the city’s most valuable resource, and how do you propose to protect it?”
Scott Bandy (I)
Besides a plethora of challenges facing Charlottesville and whether you either view people as invasive species or deserving to direct their own manifest destiny, I’d say the most valuable resource is the individual citizen first and foremost.
Somewhere on the way to complacent utopia and nature in stasis, we have lost practical sight of what denotes basic service and instinctual productivity. The toll of perfect convenience is loss of further convenience. An integral part of “the American Dream” is the (ideal or not) capability of a person BEING his or her own person.
“[And] how do you propose to protect it?” Well, first, the “it” ending half of this question suggests a natural expectation in something else. The “it” anticipated perhaps was either a predictable stereotypical ecological or environmental element. Humankind and humanity deserve not to be relegated to and better regarded for far more than a mere “it”.
Call it cosmic karma or the “do unto others as yourself” principle, pass it on.
Bob Fenwick (I)
Charlottesville’s most important asset by far is the sense of community shown by its citizens. We are blessed with a great institution, the University of Virginia, which offers business and personal opportunities and an historic past, but it is our citizens who drive our civic life. We are a large enough city to have a national reputation, but small enough that we can know most of our neighbors when we see them during our business activities or at the City Market, The Corner, The Pavilion or the Downtown Mall.
This sense of community and an awareness and appreciation of our diversity is what drives our advocacy in local issues. If an important issue is being discussed our citizens will be forthright and honest in adding their voice to the debate. As a community we have the experience and intelligence to make reasoned and informed decisions.
It is this sense of community that the leaders of our community should recognize, encourage and celebrate. An open and honest community discussion that acknowledges our differences while reinforcing our common purpose will ensure that this sense of community will remain Charlottesville’s most important asset.
Andrew Williams (I)
The Charlottesville resident is our most valuable resource and our local government must view every individual as a major shareholder in the mechanism that is our local society. For Charlottesville to truly fit the category of a “World Class City,” our Council needs to constantly adjust legislation, services and supports to be consistent with the idea of long-term sustainability. Based on this fact, providing the largest dividends to our families and households should be a requirement, and not merely an option.
I propose to protect our most vital resource by exercising good judgment in making decisions that benefits the majority, as I would owe it to the Charlottesville residents upon a successful election. My goal would be to represent the needs of the many, without forgetting and addressing the concerns of the few, as we all make up what is our diverse population.
Although we have an unalterable relationship with Albemarle County, my goal upon a successful election is to insure that initiatives are mutually beneficial and not just for the benefit of one government entity. As a resident of Charlottesville, you are the City’s most valuable resource, and I have a sincere desire to serve you.
Brandon Collins (I)
Our greatest resource is our children. The suffering that attends widening poverty, environmental degradation, and unending warfare will be our legacy to them unless we start making fundamental changes right now.
Ending poverty means supporting families. This means guaranteeing employment for everyone at a living wage for no more than 40 hours per week. A holistic approach to affordable housing starts with housing the homeless, expanding public housing, reducing rents, and expanding home ownership for low-income residents. We need to fully fund our schools and everyone they employ. We need to close the achievement gap, and end “zero-tolerance” policies that make our schools into prison system gateways. We need to eliminate the military as the only option for low-income students longing to attend college.
Expand artistic, cultural, and recreational activities. Acquire more parkland. Grow our bus system instead of building costly new roads. Protect our natural areas by using existing resources rather than building a costly new dam. Install solar panels on every city-owned building.
I have realistic plans to address these urgent matters. To protect our kids, and to keep yet greater suffering from being their legacy to their children, City Council must think big and start to lead.
Satyendra Huja (D)
People are the most important resource of our community. As city councilor I will listen to their hopes, aspirations, concerns and ideas, so that I can better serve them. I will work towards some of the following community needs.
Protect and enhance the environment: sufficient quantity and quality of water, clean streams, more trees, green construction and jobs, sustainable development, energy conservation, alternative energy development and quality design.
Improved infrastructure: Charlottesville needs to improve its deteriorating infrastructure, especially waterlines, drainage lines and sewer lines and sidewalks in the neighborhoods.
Balanced transportation: We need to develop interconnected network of sidewalks and bike lanes. We need to restructure our bus system to make it more frequent and dependable.
Quality education and training: Every child needs to be challenged to fulfill their potential to the fullest. Focus on early childhood education, reducing high school dropout rate and achievement gap. I support workforce development training.
Safe and decent housing and neighborhoods: I support more housing for moderate and middle-income families. I support property tax deferral for low-income elderly homeowners.
I bring experience, expertise and creativity, to meet our community’s challenges and opportunities, and to make it a great community for all of its people.
Paul Beyer (D)
Without a doubt, Charlottesville’s personality is its most valuable resource. Our people—vibrant, sophisticated, diverse, unique —imbue a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity. When so many things about modern culture are bland and homogenizing, Charlottesville is NOT.
The recent music ordinance debates provide an insight. With hardly any notice, dozens of musicians and artists showed up to express alarm at proposed changes which would have shut down the live music at popular venues such as Cville Coffee, the Local, and the Tea Bazaar. Looking around Council chambers that night was a perfect illustration of why Charlottesville is Charlottesville and not Northern Virginia, and why the details of that ordinance deserved such careful attention.
I am a realist about growth. We are going to grow. But it must never come at the expense of what makes us special—community, green spaces, and affordable housing.
Rather, we must ensure that growth inspires a more diverse middle class, successful small businesses, and higher wages that enable creative people to afford to stay in Charlottesville. It is one reason I have spent 6 years advocating for affordable workforce housing; our community simply cannot afford to price out the folks that make us unique.
Dede Smith (D)
Charlottesville’s most valuable resource is our quality of life—our vibrant, downtown pedestrian core, the park-like setting of our neighborhoods, a wide range of housing options, excellent schools, and a stunning landscape. We are blessed with a more stable economy than most, anchored by a world-class university and invigorated by the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses.
We offer a distinct urban identity to a much larger rural and suburban county, a resource for the entire region. But our quality of life is challenged by aging infrastructure, continuing growth in the County, and expansion at UVA. While we need to collaborate with the County in a spirit of mutual respect, make no mistake about it—I will protect the interests of the citizens of Charlottesville in all negotiations. Our neighborhoods and parks must not be sacrificed for infrastructure to accommodate outside growth. We must look to modern technology to rehabilitate aging water and sewer systems and innovative programs to provide energy and water conservation technology to all homes.
UVA’s wealth of intellectual capital and access to the latest research can inform innovative solutions. By addressing 20th century problems with 21st century solutions we can achieve an even higher quality of life for many generations to come.
Brevy Cannon (D)
Charlottesville’s most valuable resource is our ability to effectively communicate with each other—across different segments of the community, and among people with a diversity of viewpoints. Effective communication is the foundation of good problem solving, whatever the challenge facing our community.
One of the key jobs of a city councilor is to facilitate and improve that communication. That requires lots of listening, to a wide diversity of people in our community, reaching out to the many who might not otherwise be heard. And then to carry forward our best judgments, after careful study of the issues. I use very similar skills every day as a writer for the University of Virginia’s news office, with almost a decade of experience as a professional communicator.
Civility and decorum, good manners and mutual respect are also the foundations of good communication, which enable us to have spirited debates and express sharp differences of opinion without fracturing relationships. I pledge to do my best to demonstrate those qualities during my campaign for City Council, and I encourage my fellow candidates to do the same.
James Halfaday (D)
The most valuable resource of any city is its people and this is certainly true of Charlottesville. The people of a city are its heart and determine both the character of a city and its success. I believe that Charlottesville is made of a diverse and interesting population of people and they are all important as individuals, as well as members of the community.
Education forms one of the most important methods of protecting and insuring the prosperity of the people of Charlottesville. From its inception in the early 1800s, the University of Virginia has been a central part of the city, and the education of our residents at all levels, from pre-school through college, is something that is very important to me. I believe strongly in the importance of increasing the high school graduation rate and providing the opportunity for further education for all who wish it.
Other ways to protect the people of Charlottesville include promoting local businesses, providing opportunities for involvement in the community and ensuring equality of opportunity for all, regardless of race, gender, economic status, political affiliation or sexual preference. This will lead to personal growth both socially and economically for each individual, which will in turn lead to growth and prosperity for our city.
Kathy Galvin (D)
Business location decisions are increasingly being based on the quality of place. That’s what we’ve got to preserve. Destinations like the Downtown Mall, Belmont Center, The Corner, Jefferson Park Avenue and Fontaine share that quality. They have an urban “vibe” while being family friendly. But as one visitor said about West Main, “That could be one of the great streets in Virginia, but…it’s missing teeth.” Cherry, Preston, Vinegar Hill are aching for a rebirth. As Dylan said, “He who’s not busy being born is busy dying.” That applies to both cities and people.
We must not preserve unemployment and despair. When industries like Ix Textile left town, jobs that gave people dignity and were a bulwark against poverty weren’t replaced. For too long, we’ve been on a negative growth track, all at the expense of our most vulnerable. That’s not green, that’s not smart, and that’s certainly not just.
Community investment should not sacrifice community character, but neither should community prosperity be sacrificed by narrow interest.
The Downtown Mall turns 35 this year. What’s next? We need to work together to create that vision, set priorities, and follow through with clear rules of engagement for the benefit of all.