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October 29, 2011

City Council candidates on their qualifications

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In the run up to Election Day on November 8th, Charlottesville Tomorrow will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council.  In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8th.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2011 Election Center website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more.  All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.

CITY COUNCIL, SECOND IN A SERIES

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.comPlease describe your past experience that qualifies you to be on City Council?

 


Scott Bandy (I) – Challenger

I started out on a platform of not being experienced, so I’m not going to claim any titles or accolades or any experience as far as that goes. It’s up to the voters, you know, from what they find out whether I’m qualified or not. I’m just running as a plain citizen. That’s how I want to be perceived and if honesty accounts for anything, that would be a consideration for the voters to mull over.

 

Brandon Collins (I) – Challenger

I am a lifelong resident of the City of Charlottesville….I have always considered Charlottesville a great place to raise my daughter.  Having grown up here and lived here, I have seen some of the great things about Charlottesville and some of the worst things about Charlottesville and I think I can relate to a lot of the folks out there that are struggling, that are suffering, and that have been through hard times. 

What basically qualifies me to be on city council are my politics, and that is that I place the needs of human beings and people over the needs of developers, or markets, or business.  That’s where I am coming from politically, and I think that it’s ultimately what we should all look for in a city councilor—somebody who is looking at the people of Charlottesville, the residents of Charlottesville, rather than other interests.

Specifically though, I have been an activist in this community, and also at the state and national level….  I have been involved in the anti-war movement for quite some time.  I have been involved in a lot of labor activism, immigrants’ rights activism, a lot of environmental activism….[W]hen you participate in these things and you devote your life to being active…you get a very real understanding of how different systems work.…

Philosophically, I believe whole-heartedly that people should lead from the bottom up and I hope to be a councilor that will listen to all our residents and respect democracy and respect that I am not here to lead, that the people should be here to lead me.

 

Bob Fenwick (I) – Challenger

As a member of the Army Corps of Engineers having studied civil engineering undergraduate and graduate level at the G.W. University School of Engineering and passing the engineering training exam, and a Virginia Class A Licensed general construction contractor, I have dredged, I have built, designed and repaired bridges, managed construction projects, built and repaired roads, designed community water and sewer systems and would be very competent and comfortable overseeing these city projects and ensuring the citizens of Charlottesville are not fleeced.

In the worst recession in our country’s history, Charlottesville is poised to borrow massive amounts of money for capital expenditures….First, the bond is borrowed money.  We are proud of our AAA bond rating but the only reason you borrow money is when you don’t have any money.  Second, several of these items we don’t need right now.  The dam, reservoir, and the pipeline at and to Ragged Mountain, the Belmont Bridge which can be repaired, not to mention financing a new botanical garden at a YMCA in McIntire Park and the city’s portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway. If the citizens decide to proceed with these projects in the face of the recession, I believe my background and experience provides a unique opportunity to properly oversee the management and cost of these projects. 

 

Kathy Galvin (D) – Challenger

Well by profession I am an architect and urban designer.  That inherently means that I look at things comprehensively, I don’t look at anything in isolation because one thing is related to the other.  If I did that when I designed a building that building would fall down.

Having said that, I am also very civic-minded, and that goes way back to the kind of commitment my parents instilled in me to do public service.  It began when I lived in Boston, I worked on feasibility studies for the Boston Housing Authority and we looked at how to improve the quality of life for residents at the same time giving them more opportunities. …

So then I decided, throughout all of this, that I want to become an architect because I do understand the impact of the physical environment on people.  I come to Virginia, go to UVa, and immediately after graduation I am plugged in to the social development commission, the Charlottesville Housing Foundation, I become an architect for the Charlottesville Housing Improvement Program.  I also later became the assistant director of the Design Resource Center, which was the precursor to…the [Charlottesville] Community Design Center.  In that capacity I was very much involved in the Eastern Planning Initiative which gave me a regional approach to planning, particularly transportation planning, because it was through the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.….

I can bring a lot of my skills to bear in a bigger arena and that’s why I am running for city council and that’s why I think I will be very, very effective and make a very good contribution to council.

 

Satyendra Huja (D) – Incumbent

I am a 38-year resident of Charlottesville, Virginia.  The first 31 of those were as director of planning and community development, and strategic planning.  So I think that provides me with some background in our community.  I also have been serving on the city council for the last 4 years.  I am adjunct faculty at the University of Virginia School of Architecture.  I have expertise and experience in finding creative solutions to the needs of our community, so I think with my background and experience, I should qualify for the position.

 

Dede Smith (D) – Challenger

What I believe I bring to city council is a long experience here in Charlottesville.  I have lived here more than 30 years and have been very active in the community. 

First and foremost, I bring a background in research.  One of my platforms is accountability and using good up to date information.  I believe I have a strong background in how to not only get information but how to know what is good information and I am very comfortable with numbers and data….That’s one of my reputation points—evidence-based decision making and data.

Furthermore, I bring a long experience as a director of a non-profit.  The reason that’s relevant is that I have a strong background in environmental protection as well as historic protection.  I was the director at the Ivy Creek Natural Area, which of course is a park…and we do a lot of environmental education and stewardship.  But it’s also an African-American heritage site which I spearheaded in getting that designation.  I have done a lot of research in the local African-American history, not only for that site, but in this community, and I think that brings an interesting skill to the council.

Furthermore, I have a very strong, really 20 years, background in education in this community, not only as a volunteer, as a PTO leader, as a strong voice, but also six years on the school board.  One of the things that that has taught me—because I was a volunteer and PTO leader at a high poverty school—is what poverty and some of the struggles that our families have here in Charlottesville, what impact that has on education as well as other social issues.

 

Andrew Williams (I) – Challenger

I served on a strategic planning taskforce for the Virginia Community College system, and the primary focus was education and workforce development. It was statewide, and I was one of two students appointed by Chancellor Glenn DuBois, statewide, to serve at that capacity. I went to the general assembly and represented Piedmont Virginia Community College a number of different times. I also represented my employer to an extent, State Farm, in that capacity.

So I’ve always been an advocate for good initiatives or good ideas without being a lobbyist. I just want to represent, I don’t want to be a politician. And also, it’s my belief that just because you don’t have a college degree, which I’m still working on, doesn’t mean that you aren’t educated. I know a lot of people that are very educated that are very able and willing to work and to work good.

What Charlottesville City Council needs at this point in time is a different perspective, and I think that have that. And I know how the system works, and while I am sincere and I am confident that my overall goals will serve the Charlottesville resident. I believe that partisan politics isn’t necessary at the local level, and I believe that in this election, we can change that….

I’m committed to continual personal development which will enable me to serve my community better, and I have a sincere desire not to become Charlottesville’s next politician, but the little guy who helped a large chunk of government, or put a large chunk of government back into the hands of the working class here in Charlottesville. …

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