Charlottesville City Councilors Weigh in on Recent Election

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Nikuyah Walker (Left) and Heather Hill (Right) Nikuyah Walker (Left) and Heather Hill (Right)

Current council members say they are ready to start building relationships as the newly elected are already preparing to get down to work.

A closely contested Charlottesville City Council race, decided by only 55 votes, produced two new councilors Tuesday night.

Independent Nikuyah Walker and Democrat Heather Hill won the two vacant seats on City Council. Now current members say they are anxious to start working with the newly elected councilors.

 “I look at it as almost like a shot in the arm, you get new people, you get new ideas, it's a way to keep the conversation fresh and moving,” Councilor Kathy Galvin said.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer and Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy agree voters electing Walker, the first independent councilor since 1948, is the city calling for change.

“The fact that an independent candidate in a city that has voted for Democratic candidates for many many decades would get the top votes clearly shows that there is something that we can do better at,” Signer said.

“It’s been a long time since we haven’t had all Democrats behind the dais and I think that’s a clear indication to the city that the community wants us to look at going outside the box,” Bellamy said.

Democrat Heather Hill says she is going to immediately get to work building relationships in the community so she can help stimulate that change.

“I think first I need to start building relationships with those that I want to serve with, we have to be able to work together to really make the change that this community deserves,” Hill said.

Galvin says Hill brings a strong background of leadership, while Walker can be a liaison between Council and the lower income communities.

“Ms. Walker she brings a keen understanding and a very deep personal level of our low wealth community particularly with the African-American community, she has been a voice for that community for many years and she speaks from the heart,” Galvin said.

The current council members are excited to begin working with the newly elected members.

“I think that they will work very well together and I think it’s really an opportunity to expand our focus on equity, responsiveness, transparency, community engagement, results,” Signer said.

NBC29 reached out to Walker but she has not responded at this time. Both Walker and Hill will be sworn in on Jan. 1,  2018.

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