Initial results from the Charlottesville Democratic Primary indicate that candidates Wes Bellamy, Michael Signer and incumbent Kathy Galvin will be the party’s nominees in the November general election for City Council.
According to election officials’ count at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, an hour after polls closed statewide, Bellamy was reported to have led all of the city’s nine precincts, amassing a total of 2,482 votes.
Galvin and Signer had only 20 votes between them, while incumbent Dede Smith received 1,613 votes, trailing behind Galvin’s 1,835.
Signer, an attorney and author who previously sought a Democratic nomination in 2011 for lieutenant governor, received 1,855 votes.
Lena Seville, a community activist who was in her first ever run for public office, earned just 651 votes.
“I think it gives a strong message to our city staff as to what our city expects,” Galvin said of the results while attending an open election party at Escafe. “What we heard and saw tonight was a professional orientation that says [the public] wants an efficient government that makes customer service a high priority, and that it’s important to be visionary.”
Signer and Galvin ran campaigns focused on growth in the city directed by community input.
While considering growth as a central aspect of their platform, both candidates criticized The Flats at West Village as being a project that slipped under current architectural review standards and said they wish to re-evaluate how building projects are approved.
Bellamy previously ran for a Democratic nomination in 2013 but lost to Councilor Bob Fenwick in a primary that put initially had both men in a 1,088-vote tie.
After provisional ballots were counted, Fenwick led by five votes.
“This win isn’t about Wes Bellamy,” Bellamy said, adding that he expects city residents to hold him accountable if elected to the council in November. “It’s about everyone; white, black, young and old. This campaign was about the people.”
While the Democratic primary has become a de-facto election for Democratic candidates who soundly defeat the few Independent and Republican candidates who have come forward in the last 15 years, Signer said it’s no excuse to stop campaigning and engaging the public until November.
Signer in 2013 chaired the party’s coordinated City Council campaign that Fenwick and Councilor Kristin Szakos won over two Republican challengers.
“We ran a very hard race two years ago,” Signer said. “I’m planning on running a very strategic and serious campaign the rest of this year. I’m really grateful for this opportunity and not taking this for granted. We still have a serious phase of this campaign ahead.”
In November, the Democrats square off against Republican candidate Anson Parker.
More than 3,200 people, or 10.2 percent of the city’s registered voters, participated in Tuesday’s primary. In 2013, the primary — which also included candidates for lieutenant governor, attorney general and other local offices — only drew 2,650 Charlottesville voters.
Former Charlottesville Mayor, Del. David J. Toscano, who so far is running unopposed for his seat in the House of Delegates, said Tuesday night that he credited the quality of the election’s candidates as having spurred the high turnout.
“Everyone in this race worked very hard and ran a very positive campaign,” he said. “It’s sad to see anyone lose. But the people who were chosen are quality candidates, will probably win this fall and do a great job for this city.”