Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
January 25, 2023: Eight people seek open slot on City Council; Cromwell leaving as Chamber of Commerce CEO

January 25, 2023: Eight people seek open slot on City Council; Cromwell leaving as Chamber of Commerce CEO

Plus: Virginia Senate passes bill to allow Albemarle and Charlottesville to hold sales tax referendum for school construction costs

If you know anyone who is Scots, bolster your knowledge of their culture by letting them know it is Burns Night. This is the day in 1759 when Robert Burns was born, but not the day he started writing poetry. Perhaps somewhere out there, someone will write something today that will be remembered two hundred years from now. It likely won’t be this installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement. So let’s just go with a bit of Burns:

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promis’d joy!

On today’s program:

  • Political newcomers and veterans alike have filed for the open position on the Charlottesville City Council 

  • Elizabeth Cromwell is leaving as CEO and President of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and Andrea Copeland will serve as interim while a search is conducted

  • The General Assembly has been meeting for two weeks as of today and I have a quick status round-up

  • Information on new businesses in Albemarle County

Today’s first shout-out: UVA Strong 

In today’s first subscriber supported shout-out, the Tiger Fuel Company wants you to consider support for the UVA Strong Fund, set up by the University of Virginia Alumni Association to honor the victims and support the survivors and families of the events of November 13. Tiger Fuel recently made a $25,000 holiday donation to the fund, which honors the lives of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry. You can also make a contribution today by visiting

Eight candidates have filed for interim Council seat

There are still five days to apply to be considered by the four remaining members of City Council to join them on the dais to replace former Councilor Sena Magill. Council will hold a public hearing in February and must make a selection within 45 days of the official start of the vacancy. (apply)

Yesterday the city released the names of eight people who have filed to fill the position. They include one former City Councilor, one former Planning Commissioner, one former School Board member.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • Alex Bryant has lived in Charlottesville for 12 years and has worked as the executive director of the Ix Park as well as managing director of the Tom Tom Foundation. He said he has spent a lot of time researching problems and solutions in cities the same size as Charlottesville. (read application

  • Don Dunham III has lived here for a total of 10 years with an engineering degree from the University of Virginia. Dunham is the CEO of Cavalier Professional Services. He said he and his wife plan to spend the rest of their lives here, and he claims a lot of experience working in affordable housing. (read application)

  • James Guidry has lived in Charlottesville for two and a half months and is a clinical manager at University of Virginia Imaging. He said he wants to get involved in making Charlottesville “prosperous through planning and building a better future for everyone. (read application)

  • John Edward Hall has lived in Charlottesville for 40 years and ran for Council in 2017 and placed sixth in six-way race. His resume lists many medical inventions and a petition of signatures he submitted lists his ballot name as John E. (The Ringer) Hall. (read application)

  • Leah Puryear has lived in the city for over 40 years and served for 15 years on the Charlottesville School Board. She is the director of the Upward Bound program at the University of Virginia. (read application)

  • John Santoski said he’s lived in Charlottesville for over 30 years and served on both the School Board and the Planning Commission. He’s also the executive director of the Arc of the Piedmont. (read application)

  • Kristin Szakos has lived in Charlottesville since 1994 and served two terms in Council from 2010 to 2017. She said she would not seek to run for a full term  and said her experience as a Councilor would be valuable in passing a budget and overseeing the zoning rewrite underway. (read application)

  • Christopher Valtin has lived in the city for two years. He attended the University of Virginia and retired here after a career in the municipal bond industry. (read application)

The website for Charlottesville City Council inserts the names of the eight applicants (so far) where the image of the future Councilor will go 

Copeland to take over as interim Chamber of Commerce president 

The president and CEO of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce has announced she will step down from the position after more than four years. Elizabeth Cromwell’s last day on the job will be February 17. 

“Personally and professionally, the time is right for me to take on some new challenges and adventures,” Cromwell is quoted in a press release. “I have learned a lot during my time here and am grateful to the board, the Chamber staff, our many volunteers, our Chamber members, and for all of my experiences here.”  

Cromwell will be moving to Massachusetts to assist with the opening of an autism center on Martha’s Vineyard

In her place will step Andrea Copeland as interim president while a search is conducted for a replacement. Copeland is the Chamber’s Director of Committee Engagement and has worked for the Chamber since 2007 when she began as a volunteer. She became Director of Member Education Services in 2012. 

Legislative update: House of Delegates vote to extend Chesapeake Bay clean-up, Senate passes bill to allow sales tax referendum in Albemarle, Charlottesville

It seems like it was just yesterday when the 2023 General Assembly began. In fact, it was thirteen yesterdays ago. This newsletter mostly focuses on things around Albemarle and Charlottesville, but it’s important for anyone interested in public policy to keep one eye on what’s happening in Richmond.

So far, the House of Delegates has passed 48 bills and the Senate has passed 88 bills. Ninety-seven  bills have failed in the House and 151 have not made it out of the Senate. That leaves 1,113 pending in the House and 692 awaiting action in the Senate. This doesn’t include joint resolutions. And it's likely out of date by the time you read this. 

A snapshot of legislative statistics for the 2023 General Assembly as of 8:21 a.m. Wednesday. Click to see an updated list.

Here’s some of what’s still pending:

  • The full House of Delegates has unanimously passed a bill to require the Virginia Department of Taxation to publish a list of all of the different transient occupancy tax rates for each locality in Virginia. (HB1442)

  • A bill to extend the compliance date for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL has passed the full House of Delegates. The original deadline was 2026 but if this legislation becomes law it will be extended to 2030. HB1485 passed on a 52 to 47 vote. The bill specifically makes provisions for the agriculture sector which are not on track to make the necessary reductions in time. 

  • The House Courts of Justice Committee has reported out a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to once again pull over motorists for broken brake lights and other issues with their vehicles. The vote was 10 a 9 on SB1380.

  • A bill to create a higher standard to make bail in certain instances was reported out of the Courts of Justice on a 10 to 9 vote. (HB1365

  • A bill to repeal requirements for a program for low-emissions vehicles after 2025 has been read twice now by the full House. HB1378 was reported out of the Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee last week on a 12 to 10 vote. 

  • A bill to require every school principal to create a catalog of all library materials and denote in a publicly available spreadsheet every item that “contains graphic sexual content, as defined in the bill.” This was reported out of the House Education Committee last week and read by the full House on January 20. It’s been passed by twice. (HB1379)

  • The House has also held one reading on a similar bill to require the Department of Education to come up with model policies on removal of books and other objects deemed objectionable for sexual reasons. (HB1448)

  • A bill to expand the eligibility for the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Program has been reported out of a House Education subcommittee. (HB1419)

  • A subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections has recommended a bill that would require photo ID to be presented by voters before casting a ballot. There were some substitutes. (HB1444)

  • A bill to allow Albemarle and Charlottesville to hold a referendum on a sales tax increase for public schools passed the full Senate Monday on a 27 to 10 vote. (SB1287)

  • A bill to expand the moratorium on city’s annexing counties from 2024 to 2032 has been reported out of a subcommittee of the Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns. (HB1676)

A summary of HB1485. View the bill for more details.

New Albemarle businesses: Progress made toward Praha Bohemian Bakery in Crozet

For now, anyone who seeks to do business in Albemarle has to check with Community Development to make sure the use is permitted. A review of these zoning clearances can yield a lot of information, and here’s a little of what I learned. 

  • A Carytown Tobacco franchise has been approved for a 1,530 square foot unit within the Fifth Street Landing complex on Fifth Street Extended. This is in the same center as a Starbucks and a Christian’s Pizza. The county approved the use on January 17 but noted a building permit is still needed for the unfinished space. 

  • Community Development staff have also signed off on a zoning clearance for Praha Bohemian Bakery and Cafe in the former Crozet Tack and Saddle space at 5778 Three Notch’d Road. Learn more in a January 16 article in the Crozet Gazette.

  • A non-contact program called Rock Steady Boxing wants to operate in 2,500 square feet of space formerly held by the Charlottesville Ballet. The application describes the program as being for people with Parkinson’s Disease. 

  • A non-profit group has filed for a clearance to operate a dance space in Fashion Square Mall in the space where a Charlotte Russe franchise formerly operated. 

Sponsored message: Buy Local 

Charlottesville Community Engagement’s continued existence means that many of you support local information. Want to support some local businesses as well? The Buy Local campaign is in full swing, and both the Albemarle and Charlottesville Offices of Economic Development want people to consider spending locally as they shop throughout the year.

The Buy Local campaign highlights small businesses within Charlottesville and Albemarle County through a multi-channel, multimedia promotional and educational campaign designed to reinforce how important supporting area small businesses is to the local economy. 

The campaign will continue long after the holidays. Locally-owned, independent businesses with a brick-and-mortar presence in the City or County interested in being featured in the campaign should visit or contact 

For more information on the Buy Local campaign, visit or follow us on Facebook and Instagram @BuyLocalCvilleAlbemarle or on Twitter @BuyLocalCville.

Reading material:

Things to know before #489 is concluded:

This one is a little shorter than usually, but yesterday I was able to produce this relatively early and get on with my day. I’m going to attempt to make it to a meeting today at 10:30 a.m. and get this info out as quickly as I can. 

Thanks to all of the subscribers who read and listen, but especially thank you to those who are contributing either via Substack, Patreon, or some other way of contributing! One person last week sent in a check to cover a paid subscription here, becoming one of the over five hundred people and entities that are contributing something!

And of course, there’s the role Ting plays in making this happen. They will match the initial payment of any Substack subscriber. They do this to support this style of community journalism, written by someone who has been writing about it for a long time. Most of my funding comes through reader or listener contributions, and long may this continue. What you’ll get is a lot of information.

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Thanks to Wraki for the music. There is going to be a new closing tune beginning with #500 and hopefully other audio cues here and there, too. Do give the podcast a chance if you’ve not heard it to this point.