City Council Candidates Discuss Statues, Taxes, Affordable Housing in Forum
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Several candidates for Charlottesville City Council got together at The Center on Wednesday to talk about their plans if they get elected.
The candidates were asked a variety of questions - ranging from how they'd work between themselves and with the public, as well as their stance on the Confederate statues in downtown Charlottesville. Judge Richard Moore ruled in May that the statues are war memorials and are protected by state law.
"We can't move them without changing Virginia constitution and I don't think we're going to do that because there's too much respect and appreciation of the statues," said Independent City Council candidate John Hall.
Each City Council candidate was asked whether they would remove the statues if they could. Independent Paul Long and Democrat Michael Payne were both in favor of removing the statues.
"We're one country, we're Americans, we're all members of the United States and citizens of the United States," Long said. "I don't see why we keep on discussing it."
Independent candidate Bellamy Brown avoided giving an answer to the question on the hot-button topic.
"I can't reconcile at the end of the day that that's going to improve someone's life," Brown said.
When asked what problems the city and county could best work together on, every independent candidate brought up a few specific topics - such as homelessness and drug abuse. Payne says artificial lines of city and county are not important.
"The decisions of the Board of Supervisors and the City Council make both effect your life," Payne said. "I think some of the major regional issues are housing...we really need to partner closely with Albemarle County."
Long and Payne both support the Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board. Brown said the review board needs work.
"I would say that I support some of the CRB," Brown said. "The way that its written right now seems that you have another authority over the police department and I don't know if that's necessarily the way that we should go."
People at the candidate forum also had questions about how they would handle taxes. Payne suggested a tax increment finance district, while Hall and Brown asked how fiscally responsible the city is now.Long said business growth is another important factor.
"When we have business people that are willing to invest in this city, trying to solve the city's problems, we have to be willing to work with them and we have to make sure we're letting businesses know that we are a good place to move to and have business.," Long said.
When asked about how to stop the disruptions that sometimes occur during council meetings, responses varied: Payne claims there is a lack of trust between elected leaders and the community, while Brown said more communication needs to happen between them.
Long and Hall showed support for Mayor Nikuyah Walker's efforts to address racial issues.
"I think Mayor Walker has certainly opened our eyes to the injustices of the past," Hall said. "But if we are to move forward into the future as a free and thoughtful people, we're going to have to put certain things behind us."
Democratic candidates Lloyd Snook and Sena Magill were not in attendance at Wednesday's forum.