How do you see Charlottesville im-proving as a city in the next four years? Is it something that you think much about? I think about it all the time. That’s my job. Charlottesville has a lot going for it, but there are many things that we can improve. One thing that would really help is if everybody would go out and vote for Dave Norris and Julian Taliaferro on May 2.
Dave and Julian are both running for City Council for the first time, but they both have a long history of pubic service. They are men of action, who have helped individuals on a personal level, and have been leaders of institutions that have made a real impact on the quality of life in Charlottesville.
I have always been impressed by the way that Julian Taliaferro led our fire department. Julian recently retired after 43 years of service to the city. We have one of the best-rated fire departments in the country, not only for extremely low loss of life and property, but also for its diversity program, which has been cited as a national model. The men and women of the department are professionals who not only respond quickly to an emergency, but also engage with the community proactively, with public education about fire prevention and programs such as free smoke-alarm installation for city residents.
Over the past decade, the fire department budget has grown at a slower rate than just about any other City department, while providing excellent service. Part of the fire department’s success with delivering taxpayer value is that Julian always encouraged his staff to be entrepreneurial. When it became clear that our old radio system for emergency responders was becoming obsolete, fire department staff took the initiative to secure a $6 million federal grant for a new regional radio system. The department secures smaller grants on a regular basis, and each time it does so city taxpayers save money. When it comes to making the overall city more efficient, Julian has the experience and track record to deliver the goods.
Of course, greater governmental efficiency is not the only challenge facing the City. I believe that one of our biggest long-term financial challenges is to reduce the poverty rate in Charlottesville. That is why the City needs Dave Norris. I would be hard-pressed to think of another person who has done more in the past decade to help people out of poverty than Dave. Most recently, Dave served as director of an interfaith ministry for the homeless (PACEM). In the past two years, PACEM has had a huge impact on reducing the number of unsheltered homeless in the area, and in the last homeless census Charlottesville had zero unsheltered children for the first time.
Before PACEM, Dave was the founding director of the Connecting People to Jobs Initiative, helping Charlottesville public-housing residents find employment. Dave was also coordinator of the Virginia Economic Development Corporation’s Micro Loan Program for low-income, minority and female entrepreneurs. He has served on the board of MAACA, JABA and many others. Because of his dedication to helping others, Dave was named one of Charlottesville’s “Distinguished Dozen” by The Daily Progress in 2005.
Dave and Julian are two guys who really know how to get things done. They
are what people mean when they talk about self-starters. Council would really benefit from their kind of leadership. Both have an excellent track record with workforce development, and put a high priority on education, the environment, affordable housing and neighborhood protection. I encourage you to find out more about their work and their vision for
the future of Charlottesville by visiting www.yestocharlottesville.org.
On May 2, Charlottesville voters have a choice. You can vote for a show horse. Or you can vote for two workhorses. My vote is for the workhorses, Dave Norris and Julian Taliaferro.
Kevin Lynch is a Democratic Charlottesville City Councilor.
You can vote for a
show horse. Or you
can vote for two
workhorses. My vote
is for the workhorses.