Charlottesville City Council Candidates Square off in Debate Before Election Day

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Council candidates at debate at UVA Council candidates at debate at UVA

The candidates for Charlottesville City Council have participated in forums over the last few months, but Thursday night they came together to discuss the city's issues in the form of a debate.

The only debate before Election Day Nov. 7 was a chance for voters to see how the candidates act on their feet. They were asked to debate four different topics, but the conversation continued to center around one key point: promoting diversity and inclusion throughout the city.

"We need to talk about in C’ville how to make it a more inclusive place," independent Nikuyah Walker said.

The candidates first addressed the lack of diversity on the Downtown Mall.

"If you don't see people who look like you, I can understand why it keeps more people from even being there,” Democratic Heather Hill said.

Some also argued that minorities and people of low-income can't afford housing in the city because of high taxes and the rapid growth of University of Virginia on and off campus housing.

"When you think of housing, we have to remember UVA is here and many of you probably don't live in UVA sponsored housing,” Democrat Amy Laufer said.

"These ordinances that we pass, taxes and fees, that we think aren't hurting people, they hurt the people that need it the most, the people that actually need that affordable housing,” independent Kenneth Jackson said.

When it came to addressing race relations in the city, the candidates all agreed that it's a problem that needs to be improved but that City Council can't fix on its own.

"The new mantra on the wall behind the City Council says, ‘All you need is love.’ I believe love is the answer," independent John Hall said.

 "Government isn't going to solve race relations by itself, that's got to come from the people who live in the city,” independent Paul Long said.

Thursday night’s debate was hosted by UVA's Washington Literary Society. 

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