This Week, 5/22

It’s a few weeks to primary day (June 11), and here in heavily-Democratic Charlottesville, the question of who will represent us next year will largely be determined now, not in November.

Among the Democrats, the choices in both the state delegate and City Council races offer strikingly similar dynamics: establishment candidates versus more progressive upstarts.

On the one hand, there’s delegate candidate Sally Hudson, 30, and council candidate Michael Payne, 26, who both describe themselves as community organizers (Hudson, an economist, founded FairVote Virginia and Payne, an affordable housing advocate, co-founded Indivisible Charlottesville). On the other, there’s delegate candidate Kathy Galvin, 63, who’s lived here for 35 years and initially voted against removing the statue of Robert E. Lee, and council candidate Lloyd Snook, 66, who’s focused his campaign around restoring order to a council he says is dysfunctional. 

An informal and unscientific survey of friends and acquaintances revealed knowledge of the various candidates’ platforms, especially for City Council, to be vague at best. But who gets elected locally has huge impact on how the city and county are shaped. City Council, for instance, appoints members to the Planning Commission, which makes decisions like whether to recommend allowing the Hinton United Methodist Church to build 15 badly-needed apartments, a third of which would be set aside for people with disabilities, on unused space on its Belmont lot (city staff recommended against the church’s rezoning request; a hearing will be held June 11).

Whether you think Charlottesville needs to rewrite its outdated zoning code to create more affordable options, like duplexes and triplexes, in the city (Michael Payne), or focus on building affordable housing in the county and busing those people in to work (Lloyd Snook), who gets elected matters.

So start with our candidate guide (there are five Democrats vying for three spots on City Council, and two facing off for the Board of Supervisors), check out their platforms online, and think about your strategy. You’ve got three weeks.   

Updated 5/23 at 1:15pm to reflect the fact that while city staff recommended against the proposed Hinton Avenue rezoning, the Planning Commission itself has not yet weighed in.