A few things are clear about Tuesday’s election for Charlottesville City Council.
For one, it will usher in a council that has no members who were in office during the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally.
For another, the three top vote-getters will join the council with no previous elected government experience.
What’s unclear is who will come out on top.
Unaffiliated candidates Bellamy Brown, Paul Long and John Hall will appear on Tuesday ballots alongside Democrats Michael Payne, Lloyd Snook and Sena Magill.
The three are hoping to secure four-year terms to the five-member council.
Incumbent Democratic Councilors Mike Signer and Wes Bellamy did not seek re-election after their first terms. Councilor Kathy Galvin also didn’t seek re-election and was unsuccessful in the Democratic primary for a seat in the House of Delegates.
The race hasn’t been contentious between the candidates, although some have been targeted by incumbents and community members.
The Daily Progress asked each candidate to pitch their campaign to readers.
Brown focused his message on investing into low-income residents and providing services to lift them up.
He said the city needs to create more affordable housing, but also to spend money on educational and vocational programs that can lead to better jobs for an underserved sector of the city.
Low-income youth also have seen a decrease in recreational activities, Brown said, and the city needs to reinvest in those programs.
Brown said the city also needs to explore “actionable” climate change measures such as using electric buses or installing LED lights throughout its buildings.
He leaned on his vision to use a seat on the council to serve the community.
“I consider myself a service-oriented leader who’s looking to leverage my skillset and everything I’ve picked up on the way,” he said. “I want to use that in conjunction with other councilors and community leaders to bring together some positive solutions to our community.”
Hall, who couldn’t be reached for comment, has said in previous interviews and at forums that council lacks vision and leadership.
He wants to address homelessness and affordable housing by connecting people with job opportunities.
He has focused on using scientific improvements to combat climate change.
Other initiatives he has discussed focus on small changes, like partnering with Dominion Energy to bury power lines and expanding sidewalks.
He has frequently discussed increasing the clearance of a bridge on the Corner so tractor-trailers don’t get stuck and installing park benches at transit stops.
Hall ran in the 2017 council election, finishing fifth among five candidates.
Hall has previously been banned from City Hall, the University of Virginia and Albemarle County Public Schools. The city and ACPS restrictions were lifted. However, the county school division again banned him from all property in August “after a series of disruptive visits to schools and school offices,” according to a spokesman.
He was found guilty on four charges of trespassing in Charlottesville and Albemarle courts in the past decade. He faces two pending charges in the city.
Long emphasized his history “preaching and pushing” in the community as an advocate for public transportation.
He was on the ballot for City Council in 2009, 2011 and 2017.
Long said the city needs to work with religious organizations in the area to create a year-round shelter for people who are homeless in the area.
“The Salvation Army, even though it’s doing a good job, doesn’t have enough facilities to serve all of the homeless,” he said.
Long also said nonviolent drug offenders shouldn’t be sent to prison, although he admitted that doesn’t fall under the purview of the City Council.
He also said that the community and council should be respectful during its meetings. He said, however, that any outbursts in council chambers are the result of hostility from officials over the past few years.
“I don’t believe in yelling and screaming or using profanity at City Council meetings,” he said. “But when people get frustrated that they’re not being listened to, you can expect that kind of behavior.”
Magill emphasized her ties to the area. Although she was born in Birmingham, Alabama, she moved to Nelson County at age 6.
She attended then-Tandem School in Albemarle County, Piedmont Virginia Community College and graduated from UVa with a degree in psychology in 2001.
Magill worked for the Region 10 Community Services Board from 1999 to 2010 as director of intensive services.
She also ran a former business on the Downtown Mall called Antics/Hatpindolly.
Her husband, Tyler Magill, was injured on Aug. 11, 2017, during the tiki torch rally at the University of Virginia. That rally, plus the increasing need for affordable housing, motivated her to run for office.
“I got into this because I saw the affordable housing crisis growing for years,” she said. “But I decided to do this now after my husband got hurt in 2017 and I wanted to show my daughter that you don’t run away from problems, you face them head on.”
Payne said his efforts as an affordable housing activist prompted him to run for City Council, and have afforded him some expertise.
His top priorities are increasing public housing, improving transportation and addressing climate change.
On housing, Payne said it’s important for the city to invest in redevelopment of existing units. He also wants Charlottesville’s Comprehensive Plan finalized with an affordable housing strategy.
For transit, Payne advocated for a Regional Transit Authority that includes Albemarle County and would expand public transportation for more area residents.
He also said the city should create specific plans for residents and businesses to reduce emissions to combat climate change.
Payne said he can help “rebuild trust between the community and government” and that it’s time for everyone to work together.
“I think we’re just at a moment where it’s really important for us to be able to work together on specific policy solutions,” he said.
Snook, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for City Council in 1990, decided to enter the race after seeing reports about the council’s December retreat. Councilors used the retreat to air their grievances with each other, the public and the media.
“I’ve served on a lot of boards and commissions,” he said. “I know what you need to do to have a group that functions well together and clearly council wasn’t functioning well.”
Snook’s campaign has focused on a need to make the city government function more efficient. He said that there are “a lot of things we want to be doing” to address affordable housing, education and climate change.
“They’re topics that the inefficiencies of city government have gotten in our way of doing anything about,” he said. “It all has to start with getting the government working right again.”
Snook said that his time living and working in the city would bring “institutional memory” since three incumbents are resigning.
“There needs to be a few people around who have seen what it means to have a city manager who is a strong city manager who works well and can really manage the city,” he said.