It was nearly 7pm, time for one of the year’s last City Council meetings to begin, and the crowd hushed in anticipation. Four councilors sat on the dais. The fifth, Kevin Lynch, was nowhere in sight.
Mayor David Brown looked at the audience and said, "You’re all quiet, but Kevin’s not here yet." He then let a little smile play across his face. "Everyone should clap when he comes in."
Soon after, Lynch walked in to a smattering of applause.
Gone, but not soon forgotten: Kevin Lynch and Kendra Hamilton. City Council meetings are liable to be more boring without thee!
Applause for Lynch and Vice Mayor Kendra Hamilton will soon die down for good. Both are ending their terms on City Council—Monday night was their final regular meeting—to be replaced by Holly Edwards and Satyendra Huja.
Council will be the poorer for not having Hamilton and Lynch perched on its dais. Who but Lynch, we ask you, will pick apart every detail of an issue until it has somehow magically transformed into another issue? And if, by chance, someone steps into that role in the new Council, who, if not Hamilton, will shoot that person brief but exasperated glances as the monologue roles on?
Lynch will be missed for his seemingly effortless ability to spin an aphorism out of a long discussion, such as this one he whipped on Council at the end of a debate over draconian punishments for speeders: "In Saudi Arabia you can be stoned for adultery, but people still do it." To which Brown shook his head and replied, "Kevin, we’re going to miss you on Council."
That’s for sure. And Council will also miss Hamilton, who in her four years managed to steer the wonkiest of discussions back to how decisions made late on Monday nights would affect the citizenry of Charlottesville. From her seat to the left of Brown and behind her ever-present Mac laptop, Hamilton raised important questions on everything from the proposed surveillance cameras on the Downtown Mall to who will really benefit from a new YMCA.
But some might not miss the two as much as the rest of us. For example, county officials probably won’t shed too many tears at Lynch’s departure, since he was the most consistent voice to regularly point out the county’s shortcomings, especially on transportation and infrastructure issues.
And those who choose to use the public comment time at each Council meeting to lob firebombs at the councilors will probably be happy to see Hamilton go. With regularity, she was the one councilor who chose not to grin and bear misconstrued facts and out-right falsehoods embedded in accusations, who took the time allotted for councilors’ responses to straighten out the weak arguments of the poor saps.
So step up, Edwards and Huja. To stay awake during late night Council meetings, C-VILLE needs some sharp tongues to fill the void Lynch and Hamilton will leave behind.
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