Electing Charlottesville City Council

By David Swanson

Thus far there are three candidates for two Democratic nominations for Charlottesville City Council. Dave Norris is currently the mayor and is running for reelection on a strong agenda and record. The teeny bit I’ve been able to follow, he seems more than anyone to be leading worthwhile projects. He’s also in close touch with grassroots groups and advocates he should be in touch with. And he’s willing to take a stand. When the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice proposed a resolution against attacking Iran, he was willing to do it, and none of the other four City Council Members was.

Julian Taliaferro opposed our resolution and the idea that a city should make such requests of a state or national government. In my limited knowledge of the city, he’s out of touch. People I trust tell me to vote for the other two candidates over him. Looking back through minutes of City Council meetings it’s hard to find votes that were not 5-0, or 4-1 with Taliaferro among the 4. A government body that votes unanimously so consistently is likely working out agreements away from public view, and that’s a problem in itself, but of course we don’t know whom to blame that on — which is part of the problem. Taliaferro does not seem to have a website, which ought to disqualify him, but maybe he’s working on it or I just haven’t found it. He does have a Facebook page.

Kristin Szakos is a newcomer, which weighs in her favor with me. She’s an organizer and her husband runs the Virginia Organizing Project. She’s written a good book on community organizing, and she ran the volunteer operation for Obama’s campaign here successfully (she’s possibly a bit too taken with Obama). She’s worked with lots of groups in Charlottesville. Her website provides no positions on any issues, but I asked her about resolutions like the one we proposed on Iran, and she said that she would find such a thing appropriate especially since, as she said, our kids have to go and die in such a war. While she provides no more detailed proposals than her model (Obama) liked to, she seems sincerely committed to representing the will of the city’s people, and that is the most important thing to know.

There will be a Democratic primary on May 9th according to Dave Norris’s website, on a date between May 8 and June 9 according to news reports, and an unassembled caucus on a date to be determined, according to the Charlottesville Democrats’ website.

To vote in a Democratic primary, in which virtually nobody votes and so your vote counts a lot, you have to be willing to commit to voting for Democrats in the general election. You do not have to be registered as a Democrat, since Virginians do not register by party. but you do have to be registered to vote.