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Charlottesville City Councilors bid farewell to Mayor Nikuyah Walker, Councilor Heather Hill

Heather Hill (left) and Nikuyah Walker (right)
Heather Hill (left) and Nikuyah Walker (right)(WVIR)
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 11:42 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - At the onset of Monday’s City Council meeting, Charlottesville’s city officials bid farewell to Mayor Nikuyah Walker and Councilor Heather Hill.

“You ran on a platform of unmasking the illusion, of being there for those who have not had a voice in many spaces,” Vice-Mayor Sena Magill told Walker. “I would like to thank you for being that voice for many others.”

She continued, directing this comment toward Hill:

“You have helped me and you have helped others in the community navigate local government, and for that, I thank you for your time and your service,” Magill said.

Then, the two departing councilors gave speeches, reflecting on their time serving the city and offering parting advice.

“The last four years have been uniquely challenging for Charlottesville,” Hill said. “This small city has carried a lot on its shoulders, and I believe these challenges have impacted the work that council and staff have been able to accomplish. I acknowledge there have been missteps and I take ownership of that, so that will weigh heavily on me.”

Hill shared her mantra -- ”to filter out the noise and focus on the signal” -- and assessed how that played a role in her governing.

“I’ve gotten better at doing that, but believe that the noise has hindered us at times from the signal,” she said. “It’s played out in both what the community perceives versus the reality of what we actually have achieved, which I think is a lot more than the perception. As well as the reality that we could’ve accomplished so much more if we had a more effective collaboration among ourselves as leaders and the community working with us more collaboratively.”

Mayor Walker spoke for over 15 minutes detailing her experiences, what she’s learned, and offering insight as to how she hopes the future council will work.

“I think that we are in a space where we have to decide who we’re going to be as a community, and how we’re going to lead, and whether we’re going to lead through love, or whether that call for ‘normal status quo’ is going to be what influences our decisions,” Walker said.

She read a passage from bell hooks and shared her perspective on how the city moves forward.

“Anyone that thinks that we’re going to be able to hold hands in a circle around a campfire and kumbaya this, they are not being realistic about what it’s going to take to actually ensure an equitable society exists,” she said. “I hope that you all are about the business of continuing that work. I hope that when the challenges -- that you will confront -- that you confront them and that you don’t just place blame on what has occurred the past 4 years and why it is difficult for you to do your work.”

Councilors Lloyd Snook and Michael Payne wrapped up the recognition with brief remarks.

“I’ve learned a lot from reading [books you’ve suggested] as well as just in conversations with you,” Snook told Walker. “I know you probably regard me as a lousy pupil but I have learned from you.”

“I’ve never once doubted the sincerity in the commitment to justice and improving the community and those are things that you often can not take for granted in politics by any means,” Payne said.

Walker and Hill’s seats will be filled by Councilmember-Elects Juandiego Wade and Brian Pinkston. Their first meeting will be on January 3, 2022.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.

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