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ANDREW SHURTLEFF/THE DAILY PROGRESS Michael Payne (right) announced his candidacy as a Democrat for Charlottesville City Council while Democrat Don Gathers (left) postponed his announcement due to health issues Tuesday night at Kardinal Hall.

Don Gathers has delayed the start to his campaign for City Council, while fellow Democrat Michael Payne kicked his run into gear on Tuesday.

Gathers also resigned from the Charlottesville Civilian Police Review Board at its meeting later that evening.

Gathers, 59, said he had a heart attack a few months ago and on Tuesday learned of “recurring issues” with his health that need to be addressed before he can campaign.

He said he isn’t dropping out of the race, just waiting to get started.

“I’m not going away. I just need to refocus, rededicate and take care of the temple the Lord blessed me with,” he said.

Payne and Gathers on Tuesday hosted what was supposed to be a campaign launch party for both candidates at Kardinal Hall after they announced their candidacies on Monday morning.

Three seats on the five-member City Council are available in the November election. Democrats Kathy Galvin, Wes Bellamy and Mike Signer have not announced plans for re-election to four-year terms.

Payne, 26, is an Albemarle County native who graduated from Albemarle High School. He moved to the city after graduating from the College of William & Mary in 2015 with a degree in government.

He plans to focus on affordable housing, wealth inequality, transparency and climate change.

“If we continue along with the status quo over the next 20 to 30 years, this area will be unaffordable for working families,” Payne said.

Payne said he decided to run after continuously seeing City Council fail to come together to solve issues, particularly affordable housing.

“I haven’t actually seen a vision for solving that problem on council,” he said.

Payne has represented Habitat Virginia on statewide affordable housing issues and volunteers with the Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition.

He said his work in the community, including on several Democratic campaigns and with Indivisible Charlottesville, shows he can make community connections and bring people together.

“We’re at a very critical moment in the city where our decisions are going to have an effect for 30 to 40 years,” he said.

Payne said he also won’t take campaign contributions from corporations or developers.

“I believe if you’re taking money from people you’re making decisions about, it can make people question your motives,” he said.

He also advocated for increased transparency in budget development and moving the city to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.

Payne was the only candidate to hold a campaign launch event as of Tuesday. Sena Magill, a member of the board of directors of the Region Ten Community Services Board, will announce her campaign on Wednesday morning.

If more than three Democratic candidates declare by March 28, a citywide primary to select the party’s nominees will be held on June 11. If Gathers misses the March deadline, he can still make the ballot as an independent if he submits paperwork by June 11.

Gathers is a deacon at First Baptist Church and a co-founder of Charlottesville Black Lives Matter. He has served on numerous city committees, including the Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces.

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City hall reporter

Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274,, or @nstoutDP on Twitter and Facebook.

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