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Republicans Join Charlottesville City Council Race - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Republicans Join Charlottesville City Council Race

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Weber-Farruggio Charlottesville City Council campaign sign Weber-Farruggio Charlottesville City Council campaign sign

For the first time since 2006, Charlottesville Republicans are throwing their hats back into the ring for City Council. Retiring police sergeant and former planning commission member Michael Farruggio will join attorney and current Republican Party Chair Charles "Buddy" Weber on the ticket in November.

This is big news in the decidedly Democratic city of Charlottesville. A Republican hasn't won an election for City Council since 2002, and the party hasn't fielded a candidate since conservative radio show host Rob Shilling lost his re-election bid in 2006. But these two men are hoping to change that.

They have yet to lay out their full platform, but say they want to reform public housing, repeal the recently adopted stormwater tax, and help solve traffic problems in the city.

But it will be an uphill battle for Republicans. In the last two presidential elections, the Republican candidate never managed to get more than 22 percent of the vote in the city. In this year's council race, Republicans know they'll have to cast a wide net to make the race competitive.

"To get folks that would normally vote Democratic to give us a chance and to moderate City Council," said Farruggio.

"You've got to develop that trust first, so that's our goal first to help people get to know us," said Weber.

Charlottesville Democrats aren't fazed by the news.

"We're happy to see Republican competition," Charlottesville Democratic Party Co-chair Jim Nix said. "Our democracy works best if we have a healthy two-party system."

Even with the return of the Republicans, however, Nix doesn't think it will make a huge impact on the race.

"I think most people are concerned about specific issues in the city, and they vote the candidates who agree with them on the issues," Nix said.

Farruggio will retire from the Charlottesville Police Department in about four months, and though he sees no conflict, Weber says he hopes someone will step up to help run the Republican committee.

Five Democrats are also vying for the two open seats on council. Kristin Szakos is running for re-election to her current post, alongside "Helping Young People Evolve" founder Wesley Bellamy, teacher Melvin Grady, UVA graduate student Adam Lees and former independent Bob Fenwick. The two Democratic nominees will be determined by an open primary June 11.

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