The announcement that Anson Parker is running as a Republican candidate for City Council is only the latest making of news for the 37-year-old programmer, who’s resided in Charlottesville the past 19 years.
Back in 2004, he started Treebay to sell used items on eBay and funnel the proceeds toward alternative energy. At that time he was pedaling a stationary bike to power his laptop and cellphone. Later that same year, he raised ire and awareness by reenacting a slave auction on Court Square during the Jeffersonian Thanksgiving Festival, which was not the sort of history its organizers wanted portrayed.
Now an application developer at UVA, Parker has been working on his own apps to track the “mundane, day-to-day spending” at city hall and add it to a national data set to contribute to an understanding of how municipalities spend. “It’s groundbreaking,” he says. The app makes city spending “less black box and more transparent,” he says, and transparency is a big theme for his candidacy, along with efficiency and accountability.
City GOP chair Barbara Null is thrilled to have a candidate “who can communicate with the younger crowd.” She says Parker’s youth and energy—and skills to make city spending more transparent—can only broaden the Republican reach in a city that has only elected one Republican—Rob Schilling—to City Council in 30 years.
Parker says he’s already been warned he’s likely to lose, but he’s undeterred. “I thought it would be hilarious,” says the ever-game Parker. “And I’m excited about the technology. This is an international movement.”
Correction: The original version inexplicably forgot Republican Rob Schilling’s upset win in 2002.