Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
June 21, 2023: Deeds, Callsen, and Laufer win in Democratic primary races
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June 21, 2023: Deeds, Callsen, and Laufer win in Democratic primary races

Plus: Council accepts $5 million from UVA for streetscape projects

The summer solstice is not the time for perihelion. Summer in the northwestern hemisphere takes place at a time when the Earth is further away from the sun. This fact is one of many examples of the truism that things are not always what they seem. But does anyone scrutinizes these adages? Anyway and either way, it’s June 21, 2023 and this is another edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement.

On today’s program:

  • A brief rundown of the results in yesterday’s Democratic primary election

  • Charlottesville City Council accepts $5 million from UVA for streetscape projects

  • Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook predicts an emergency Council meeting 

First shout-out: eBike Lending Library 

The Charlottesville E-bike Lending Library is a free, not-for-profit service working to expand access to e-bikes in the area. They have a small collection of e-bikes that we lend out to community members for up to a week, for free. You can experience your daily commute, go grocery shopping, or even bike your kids to school, and decide whether e-bikes are right for you. Check out this service at https://www.ebikelibrarycville.org

Deeds fends off challenge from Hudson for Senate District 11 nomination

In the area’s most expensive race, Senator Creigh Deeds is the winner of the Democratic primary for the new Senate District 11. Deeds defeated Delegate Sally Hudson with 51.45 percent of the votes cast according to unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections

Deeds won a majority of votes in Albemarle County, Amherst County, Louisa County, and Nelson County, but Hudson won Charlottesville by over a thousand votes or 56.73 percent of the vote. 

Deeds raised nearly $1.2 million for the race as of June 8, 2023 according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Hudson raised $869,138 through the same period. (VPAP)

The winner will now face Republican Philip Hamilton and independent J’riah Guerreo in the November 7 election. 

The new boundaries of Senate District 11 (Credit: Virginia Public Access Project) 

Callsen wins Democratic nomination for House District 54

Hudson’s loss means her career in the General Assembly will end for now after four years. Challenging Deeds created an open seat in the House District 54 which saw a three-way primary race. 

Albemarle School Board Chair Katrina Callsen won nearly 47 percent of the vote against former Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris and former City Council candidate Bellamy Brown. Callsen is also a deputy city attorney for Charlottesville. She won majorities in both Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Norris got 33.88 percent of the vote and Brown got 19.26 percent. 

No independent or Republican candidates appear to have come forward in the race. 

Unofficial results from the House District 54 Democratic primary 

Laufer defeats Squire in race for House District 55

In the other legislative primary, former Charlottesville School Board member Amy Laufer has won a decisive victory over Kellen Squire in House District 55. 

Both candidates had previously been unsuccessful Democratic nominees for legislative races in the past, but Laufer is the party’s choice for an open seat with nearly 70 percent of the vote. She placed third in a race for two City Council seats in 2017. Two years later she lost a close race against Republican Bryce Reeves in 2019 for Senate District 17.

Laufer was first elected to the Charlottesville School Board in 2011 and 2015. She’ll now face a Republican candidate. Both Steve Harvey and Reid Werning filed paperwork, but Harvey made a public announcement on Monday. 

In 2017, Squire was the Democratic nominee against Republican Rob Bell in the former House District 58. Bell won with 61.2 percent of the vote. This year, Bell opted to not seek re-election.

Oschrin joins Payne and Snook as Democrats in Council race this November

Political newcomer Natalie Oschrin received the most votes in a five-way race for three slots on Charlottesville City Council. Oschrin was on a shortlist of candidates City Council interviewed for the vacancy created when former Councilor Sena Magill resigned in January. 

Council ended selecting Leah Puryear to fill out Magill’s term, and Puryear opted not to run. Oschrin was the only applicant for the vacancy to enter the campaign for the race to join incumbents Michael Payne and Lloyd Snook on the November ballot. 

Provisional ballots have yet to be counted but as of this morning, Oschrin has 4,943 votes with Payne getting 4,725. Snook placed third with 4,329 votes.

Dashad Cooper dropped out of the House District 54 race to focus on a City Council bid and came away with 2,871 votes.

Former City Councilor Bob Fenwick lost the nomination for re-election in 2017 when he placed third behind Amy Laufer and Heather Hill. 

Unofficial results from the House District 54 Democratic primary 

Second shout-out: Camp Albemarle

Today’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”

Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting campalbemarleva.org/donate.

Council accepts $5 million from UVA for streetscape projects

Charlottesville City Council has officially accepted $5 million from the University of Virginia to cover some of the cost of two streetscape projects. The approval of the donation came last night with a second reading on the Council’s consent agenda. They had the first reading on June 7 of a resolution to re-route the money from its original intent. 

“UVA made a commitment to donate $5 million to the city in support of the West Main Streetscape and once that project was canceled it brought into question whether or that commitment would be upheld,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders.

The commitment came in the form of a March 2018 letter from Pat Hogan, UVA’ executive vice president and chief operating officer at the time to then City Manager Maurice Jones. Both have since moved on, and Sanders said was able to renegotiate with UVA’s current leaders. 

“They made that commitment to follow through with that $5 million in association or in conjunction that I’ve done with our team with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] in making sure our portfolio has been sufficient rebooted to get things moving and get projects done,” Sanders said. 

Sanders briefed Council on those efforts at a work session in May 2022. He said this $5 million will help to address shortfalls on other projects.  

“Some discovery was found with regards to our budgets being out of whack for the Emmet Streetscape and Fontaine Streetscapes,” Sanders said. “This $5 million coming through will actually make it possible for both of those projects to come back into line budget wise to ensure that they move forward.” 

Both projects are located within areas where UVA is expanding or plans to expand their footprint in the community. There’s a major biotechnology institute planned for Fontaine Research Park and the Emmet-Ivy Corridor will be home to several new buildings including the Virginia Guesthouse. 

City Councilor Michael Payne thanked staff for securing the money and called it a “hard-fought battle.” 

“I still think it is quite unfortunate that it is a hard-fought battle and on the part of UVa considered largesse to have given $5 million to a project that primarily benefits them while still not paying property tax to the tune of $15 million a year,” Payne said.

Payne is an advocate of changing policies to require the University of Virginia to make a payment in lieu of property taxes. As a state agency, UVA is exempt from both local taxation authority and land use regulations. 

Learn more about UVA’s future growth in the June 18 edition of this newsletter.

The UVA commitment letter for $5 million from March 2018 is within a presentation from a September 30, 2020 City Council work session (view the presentation)

Council to meet later this week?

I’ll have more from last night’s City Council meeting later on in the week. It’s the last regularly scheduled meeting until July 17 as Council usually takes off one meeting in the summer. 

Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook noted this fact and then had this to stay. 

“I should tell folks that Councilors have talked about perhaps having one quick emergency meeting by Friday or something because there are a couple of issues that we may need to try to resolve more promptly but I’ll leave everyone in suspect about what that might be,” Snook said. 

That meeting is not scheduled as of publication time. One remaining issue is the appointment of a City Manager. Council has met in closed session several times to interview several candidates. 

Keep an eye on the calendar.

Ending notes for #548:

A quick version with election results. Thanks to all the candidates for running and all the election workers for doing their jobs. I’ll keep doing my job of bringing people as much information as possible about what happens at local government and what’s already been decided. I’ve got a knack for it.

If you’d like to help support the work and to help me on my quest to expand, please consider a paid subscription! Someone signed up the other day at the $200 a year level which gives them the power to add shout-outs, should they choose. And I get an extra $200 from Ting, who matches all initial Substack contributions.

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Special acknowledgement today to Susan McGinnis for providing vocal talents for the most recent podcast. Also Wraki for being a good egg and providing music. 

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