Charlottesville City Council Candidates Discuss Hot-Button Issues at Forum
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The seven candidates campaigning for three open City Council seats made their cases to potential voters on Tuesday night.
The candidates addressed several issues including affordable housing and criminal justice reform.
Tuesday, April 30, was the first time both the Democratic and Independent candidates for City Council battled it out over what organizers say are the most pressing issues in Charlottesville.
Affordable housing was one of the major topics discussed at Tuesday night’s forum.
“It is a great political talking point, but it always gets short shrift when we get to the budget,” Bob Fenwick, a Democratic candidate, said. “I would make sure that it is adequately funded."
The joint forum hosted by the People's Coalition and the Charlottesville Low Income Housing Coalition allowed candidates to weigh in on actions they would take, if elected, toward housing redevelopment in the city.
“Let's not forget that residents are living in standards of housing that are often non-code-compliant and unsafe and unacceptable,” Brian Pinkston, a Democratic candidate, said.
“I think as Council we need to be honest as to whether we're ready to commit that level of money,” Michael Payne, a Democratic candidate, said. “I am ready to commit that money. Because if we're not, what that means is that we're telling folks who have lived here for generations that too bad, it was too hard."
Others discussed the issue of homelessness in Charlottesville.
“I think it's a disgrace that we're one of the wealthiest communities in Virginia and I think it’s a disgrace to the United States that people are living in the streets," Paul Long, an Independent candidate, said.
The candidates were also pressed on issues regarding criminal justice reform and whether they support the city's Police Civilian Review Board.
“I completely wholeheartedly agree that there should be a Civilian Review Board,” Bellamy Brown, an Independent candidate, said. “At the same time, I think that we need to understand that policing is something that we have to meet together on."
Some candidates were split on whether they would support the board's current proposed by-laws, which include two paid staff members and a budget of about $180,000 a year.
"We still need to spend some more time on the proposed by-laws,” Sena Magill, a Democratic candidate, said. “I do feel that a paid position is going to be necessary."
"I don't think we should approve these by-laws because they violate state law in so many different ways that it would be completely ineffectual to do so,” Lloyd Snook, a Democratic candidate, said.
They are set to appear in five more forums before the primary is held on June 11.
The Independent candidates still have time to gather signatures since they are running without party affiliation.