The first time Kenneth Jackson ran for City Council in 2004, he did so as a Republican. This time around, he’s running as an independent, but holding on to conservative values. “It’s about people, not parties,” he said at a campaign kickoff May 12 at Tonsler Park.
The 10th-generation Charlottesvillian had been on a hiatus from politics, but was back on the scene in February to denounce City Council plans to move the statue of General Robert E. Lee.
“The Lee statue isn’t so much a divisive issue,” he says. “It’s a silly issue.” He objects to the money being spent to defend in court the decision to move the statue, and says that money would have been better spent on salaries for teachers and police officers.
He also suggests that money could be used for the city’s public housing, such as fixing the elevator at Crescent Halls.
On the issue of creating affordable housing, he scoffs. “You’ve been saying that for 30 years.”
Jackson isn’t a supporter of the Our Town Charlottesville town hall meetings, in which councilors go to neighborhoods and bring pizza. “If we’re going to have a meeting, I don’t need a pizza party,” he says. “I heard they spent $1,500 on pizza. That’s ridiculous.”
Ditto for the recent raises councilors gave themselves.
Jackson questions the money the city gives to nonprofits, and suggests some nonprofits could be consolidated, while adding funding to faith-based initiatives.
“Charlottesville wants to look elite,” he says. But when the people who work here and keep the city running can’t afford to live here, he says, “That’s kind of like slavery, isn’t it?”
Jackson joins the race with four other independents—Nancy Carpenter, Paul Long, Nikuyah Walker and Dale Woodson. Equity and Progress in Charlottesville will hold a forum for independent council candidates Wednesday, May 17, at 6pm at The Haven.