Only three of the five Democratic candidates for Charlottesville City Council will remain in the race after June 11, and Sena Magill hopes to be one of them.
The 46-year-old will compete with four others for the party’s nomination to fill three open council seats in a citywide primary.
One of the biggest issues in the race is affordable housing, which Magill says needs to be tackled through a “multi-directional” approach.
“There’s too many differing issues to be one approach,” she said.
Magill said the city needs to continue redeveloping and expanding its public housing stock. In doing so, she said, units should be well-constructed and energy efficient to save the city money in the long run.
The city also could increase the stock of rental units by streamlining the process for accessory dwelling units, Magill said.
The Charlottesville native and University of Virginia graduate also advocates for UVa to build more housing for students and require them to stay on Grounds past their first year.
Magill said the city should create a fund to purchase affordable housing properties as they come on the market and hold ownership until local nonprofits can purchase them.
The initial money for what she calls a “land strike” fund would be part of the city’s yearly allocation to affordable housing. It would be replenished when a nonprofit purchases the development from the city.
“If the city can first purchase that land to hold while the nonprofits are getting that together, then we sell it to the nonprofits and replenish it to the land strike fund,” Magill said.
Another focal point of her campaign has been oversight of the Charlottesville Police Department.
Activists are pushing the city to create a “strong” Civilian Review Board to conduct oversight of the department. The initial CRB is expected to present finalized bylaws for a permanent board to the City Council in July.
Magill said the city needs a “robust” CRB, but stressed she doesn’t believe the police department is “corrupt.”
“With any group of people who have access to authoritarian power, there needs to be a check and balance, and that’s the importance of a civilian review board,” she said.
Magill is also in favor of the city partnering with Albemarle County to create a Regional Transit Authority and improve public transportation. The General Assembly has approved the framework for such a body, but has not approved taxing authority to fund it.
Magill said Charlottesville Area Transit bus routes need to be expanded and that buses need to run more frequently.
She said the city should commit to standardized hours of operation for buses no matter the usage until people can “re-trust” public transportation.
“To make it usable, it’s got to have more frequent stops,” she said. “It’s got to have stops that are close to the people who are using them and it’s got to go not just in the city but it’s got to go in the county.”
Magill said the city also should make changes that would allow CAT buses to transport students, ultimately reducing or eliminating the school division’s bus fleet.
“There’s tons of cities where kids ride the public transit. Why can’t they ride it in our city?”
Magill also wants to address climate change. When buses need to be replaced, the city should buy electric ones, she said.
The city also could install solar panels on buildings with newer roofs and use LED lights in buildings and streetlights, she said.
The three Democrats selected on June 11 will move on to the ballot in November.
Magill and Democrat Michael Payne have been endorsed by Equity and Progress in Charlottesville.
Bellamy Brown, Paul Long and John Hall, who are planning to run without party affiliation, have until June 11 to submit the required number of signatures and paperwork to get on the ballot.