Colette E. Blount announced Wednesday that she is entering the race for the Democratic nomination for one of three seats on Charlottesville City Council.
Blount, who turns 47 next month, was elected in 2007 to the Charlottesville School Board and has lived in the community since 1994. Her school board term ends at the end of 2011.
“The message that I want to put out is that Charlottesville is a wonderful place to live, and I want it to be a wonderful place to live for everybody,” Blount said.
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Blount, an African-American, reflected on Charlottesville’s racial history, something she has been examining through the ongoing Dialogue on Race project launched by city council.
“I want to engage the community in ongoing dialogue, but also in action to move forward,” Blount said. “With the African-American community, Charlottesville has its history, and I think part of that history has made people feel that they’re not part of the greater city.”
“I applaud the efforts and vision of Councilor Edwards and City Manager [Maurice] Jones in getting the community-based initiative the Dialogue on Race off the ground,” Blount said. “I will work to continue community dialogue such as this so that Charlottesville progresses.”
Blount said she would seek the Democratic party’s nomination at the unassembled caucus, or “firehouse primary,” being held on August 20. Blount is the seventh Democratic candidate to announce in advance of the party’s July 8 filing deadline.
Blount’s announcement took place in front of Burley Middle School, an Albemarle County school located in the city. Blount said she stood apart from the other candidates by being an educator who has taught for the past seventeen years in the community. Blount will be an eighth grade civics teacher at Burley this fall.
Blount outlined three major beliefs for her campaign. These included providing equal access to quality education for all citizens, environmental stewardship, and citizen engagement.
“It is in part through my work on the city school board that I have come to see more clearly the broader connection between Charlottesville the city and Charlottesville the people,” Blount said.
Blount said that, if elected to council, an important goal would be to help build a “sustained and engaged citizenry.”
When she ran for school board in 2007, Blount has said it was a last minute decision and that she only had three days to collect the necessary petition signatures. Four years later, Blount is expected to be the last Democratic candidate to make a council announcement, but she was joined at her event by a host of heavy hitters in the local party.
Blount was introduced by Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris. Other former Charlottesville Mayors standing in support of Blount included, Maurice Cox, Francis Fife, and Nancy O’Brien.
Norris, a Democrat, has now made appearances supporting three of the seven candidates running for the party’s nomination. Besides Blount, Norris has also appeared with council candidates Dede Smith and Brevy Cannon, both of whom stood with Blount.
“Colette is somebody who has, over the years, demonstrated her commitment to the betterment of our youth,” Norris said. “She is somebody who has a strong commitment to our natural environment and someone who has a strong commitment to community engagement and who will be an effective leader for city council for our community.”
Blount received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College in 1986 and her Masters in Education from the College of William & Mary in 1994.
Speaking to the media after her announcement, Blount shared further details about her positions on the water plan and the Meadow Creek Parkway.
Blount said had she been on city council earlier this year that she would have supported dredging as opposed to building a new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.
In February, City Council approved, by a 3-2 vote, the construction of a new earthen dam as part of the fifty-year community water supply plan. Blount said she would be willing to revisit that decision on the water plan if, after reviewing more data, she determined that there was a better plan.
On the Meadow Creek Parkway, Blount pointed out that she had already voted against the parkway as a member of the school board when city-owned land at Charlottesville High School and CATEC was required for construction of the county’s portion of the road.
“I’m a strong proponent of the environment,” Blount said. “Ultimately I weigh as many different sides as there are against what is best for people and best for the environment. People can speak up for themselves, the environment can’t.”
“I voted against the parkway on the principle that it would go through McIntire Park,” Blount said. “Nothing is wrong with open green space, and Charlottesville has very limited amounts of that.”
Walt Heineke, a neighbor of Blount’s, said he came to the announcement to show his support.
“I think she has done an incredibly great job on the school board,” Heineke said. “She has the right vision for getting Charlottesville moving in the right direction for the future.”
Also in the race for the democratic nomination, besides Blount, Smith, and Cannon, are incumbent city councilor Satyendra Huja, Paul Beyer, Kathy Galvin, and James Halfaday. The Democrats who win the nomination August 20 will face at least four independent candidates who are collecting petition signatures to get on the November ballot--Scott Bandy, Brandon Collins, Bob Fenwick, and Andrew Williams.
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