Nov 8 • 23M

November 8, 2022: A look ahead to the 2023 election; Albemarle Supervisors discuss virtual meetings with area legislators

Plus: CACVB launches "Tourism for All" pilot

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Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.
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The second Tuesday in November in Virginia is always election day, and today is no different. It is the sincere hope of all of us at Charlottesville Community Engagement that you have case a ballot and if not, perhaps you are reading the wrong newsletter. Still, you are welcome because all are welcome to read or listen to this regular collection of informational nuggets that are intended to be nourishing even if at times the content is unpalatable. I’m Sean Tubbs, channeling all of the times I spent election night at Court Square Tavern. Stay safe today. 

On today’s program:

  • The next General Election isn’t for another 364 days, but it’s a good time to list what local offices are on the ballot anyway

  • The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau will participate in a pilot program to promote the area internationally as a welcoming place for diverse and disabled travelers 

  • Albemarle Supervisors meet with states legislators to pitch their legislative priorities

    Want to stay on top of the next election? Coverage in 2023 will be robust and it starts now! Sign up to make sure you know what I know

Today’s first shout: League of Women Voters talk on Albemarle growth management 

In today’s first subscriber supported shout-out: The League of Women Voters of the Charlottesville Area is holding a live, virtual community dialogue entitled “Growth Plans…Growth Pains” on November 14, 2022, from noon to 2:00 pm. Panelists will discuss their views and perspective on how and why existing Albemarle County growth management strategies were developed and what they have accomplished. They’ll talk about how these plans might be modified to counter the threats from climate change will also be addressed.

To join the free event, go to the League's website at www.lwv-cva.org and follow the Community Dialogue link for instructions. 

Election Day: Looking ahead to 2023 

Today is Election Day in Virginia and most of the usual coverage area only has one race on the ballot with the Fifth Congressional District.

There is an election for Town Council in Scottsville and I’ll have results in tomorrow’s edition of the newsletter. There’s also an election for the Stanardsville District seat on the Greene County School Board and one for the Mineral seat on the Louisa School Board according to the Virginia Public Access Project

It may be accurate to say that no one wants to know about next year’s election, but I also have no way of knowing what’s in your minds unless you leave a comment or drop me an email. But, as a way of preparing for an election year that will cause double-duty for municipal reporters across Virginia, here’s a look at what seats are open next year for local government bodies. 

Albemarle County 

There are three seats up for election for the Board of Supervisors with races in the Rivanna, Scottsville, and White Hall Districts. 

Supervisor Donna Price has stated she will not seek reelection to a second term, leaving at least one open race. The Virginia Public Access Project lists that a Mike Pruitt as a candidate for the seat. This seat was contested in 2019 when Democrat Price defeated Republican Michael Hallahan with 55.2 percent of the vote. 

The Rivanna District was technically uncontested in 2019 but Democrat Bea LaPisto Kirtley  defeated write-in candidate Michael Johnson with 66 percent of the vote. Johnson raised nearly $100,000. Hallahan raised $92,256. 

Democrat Ann Mallek has won four elections to the White Hall District including a win over Republican Steve Harvey with 56.7 percent. Mallek ran unopposed in 2011 and 2015 but defeated Republican incumbent David Wyant in 2007 with 55.7 percent of the vote. 

Charlottesville 

Three of the city’s at-large seats are up this year. First-time Democrats Sena Magill, Michael Payne, and Lloyd Snook may or may not be on the ballot depending on what they announce. 

It has been since 2015 that a sitting member of Council opted to run for re-election. That was Kathy Galvin, who  was elected on a ticket with Wes Bellamy and Mike Signer. That year was the last time a Republican was on the general election ballot. Anson Parker received 1,205 votes compared to 4,278 for Signer, 4,561 for Galvin, and 4,657 for Bellamy. 

In 2015, Galvin opted not to seek a third term and ran instead for the Democratic nomination for House District 57 and lost in the primary to Sally Hudson

Fluvanna County 

Two of the five seats on the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors are up for election. These are the Fork Union District seat held by Mozell Booker and the Palymra District seat held by Patricia Eager. Both Booker and Eager ran unopposed in 2019. 

Greene County

There are three seats up for election in Greene County. These are for the Ruckersville District seat held by Independent Davis Lamb, the Monroe District seat held by Republican Steve Bowman, and the at-large seat held by Dale Herring. 

In 2019, Lamb defeated Thomas Joseph Flynn with 52.8 percent of the vote. Incumbent Herring defeated James Murphy 3,373 votes to 2,647 votesBowman beat incumbent David Cox for the Monroe District seat 756 votes to 636 votes.

Louisa County 

In Louisa County, three of seven Supervisor seats will be on the ballot. These are the Cuckoo District seat held by Willie Gentry Jr, the Louisa District seat occupied by Eric Purcell, and the Jackson District seat held by R. T. “Toni” Williams. 

Both Gentry and Purcell were unopposed in 2019. Williams won election in a contested race with 64 percent of the vote.

Nelson County

Two of Nelson County’s five seats are up for election. These are the West District seat held by J. David Parr and the South District seat held by Robert “Skip” Barton. Parr was unopposed in 2019. Barton defeated Larry Saunders in a close race with 560 votes to 510 for his opponent. 

General Assembly races

All 140 seats in the state legislature will be on the ballot next year under new districts drawn under the direction of the Virginia Supreme Court after the Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to complete their task due to a partisan deadlock

The new boundaries for House District 55 cover almost all of Albemarle County, portions of northern Nelson County and western Louisa County. Incumbent Republican Rob Bell is in this district. Two Democrats are vying to be on the November ballot. They are former Charlottesville School Board member Amy Laufer and emergency room nurse Kellen Squire.  

The new House District 54 covers the city of Charlottesville as well as a portion of Albemarle’s urban ring. The incumbent is Democrat Sally Hudson.

The new House District 56 consists of all of Buckingham County and part of Fluvanna County and a very small sliver of Louisa County. VPAP currently shows one Republican and one Democrat in the race for this open seat

Senator Creigh Deeds, a Democrat, is moving from Bath County to Charlottesville in order to run in the new 11th Senate District. So far he is the only person in the race for a district whose boundaries cover all of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Amherst County, and Nelson County, as well as the western portion of Louisa County.

The rest of Louisa County is in District 10, as is the rest of Fluvanna County and many other localities in the northern part of Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. There are four Republicans running including Duane Adams, the Mineral District Supervisor in Louisa County.  The others are Sally Brindley, Jack Dyer, and John McGuire.

Any interest in running for any of these? When you’re ready to announce, drop me a line. I plan to cover the elections like I cover everything else. If you want to know what’s happening, keep reading and listening. 

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Area tourism bureau partnering with Destinations International on diversity pilot 

An organization that works with tourism agencies across the world to attract people to specific locations has launched a pilot project with the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau to highlight the area’s inclusivity. 

The CACVB will work with Destinations International on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion “Tourism for All” program.

“Through a focus on inclusive marketing, welcoming diverse demographics and creating accessible spaces, the [Convention and Visitors Bureau] can become the bright beacon to which people from anywhere can find commonality and community, while also attracting new and underserved travelers to the destination,” reads a press release on the pilot. 

The program will feature an action plan as well as a pledge toward Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Another work would develop “intentionally inclusive tour products that tell the stories of historically excluded populations and reach broader audiences.” There would also be a goal of ensuring existing businesses that may feel excluded can participate and benefit from people visiting the area. 

The company Tripadvisor will also be included in the Tourism for All pilot. This will be tested in the Charlottesville market. There’s a lot of potential. 

“Black Travelers spent nearly $130 billion dollars on travel in 2019, closely followed by Hispanic travelers who spent $113 billion,” the release continues. “According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2018, one in four people in the US have a disability,”

That latter demographic spends $95 billion a year a year on travel. 

This mural was made for the unveiling for the CACVB’s Discover Black Cville program, which are geared toward telling a more inclusive story and welcoming more Black travelers to Charlottesville & Albemarle County. The program was recognized by the U.S. Travel Association in August (Credit: Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau) 

Second Shout-out is for the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards 

In today’s second subscriber-supported shout-out, an area nonprofit wants you to know about what they offer to help you learn how to preserve, protect, and appreciate! The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards holds several events throughout the year including a walk in western Albemarle County on the morning of November 12 through a well preserved and highly diverse woodland to see naturally occurring winterberry, spicebush, and dogwood laden with red berries. 

In abundance will be nuts from forest oaks, hickories, walnuts as well as orchard grown Chinese chestnuts, walnuts, pecans, and American hazelnuts. Registration is limited. Visit charlottesvilleareatreestewards.org for more information. 

Albemarle Supervisors meet with legislators

There are 64 days before the General Assembly convenes for its 2023 session with each political party with a slight majority in each of the two chambers. Some legislation has already been pre-filed and other bills remain from the previous session, but in the weeks to come more legislation will be filed. 

All across Virginia’s Fifth District, localities are finalizing their legislative priorities. On Friday, Albemarle Supervisors met with several legislators to try to convince them to carry bills for their wish list. 

In attendance in-person were Senator Creigh Deeds, Delegate Rob Bell, and Delegate Sally Hudson. Delegate Chris Runion participated remotely. 

The six Albemarle Supervisors met with area legislators (Credit: Albemarle County) 

County Attorney Steven Rosenberg went through each of the seven legislative priorities identified by Albemarle Supervisors. The first three were also priorities in the 2022 General Assembly. 

“The first one is to enable civil penalties in lieu of criminal punishment for violations of local ordinances,” Rosenberg said. “As you all will recall, Delegate Hudson carried a bill, House Bill 627, last session that failed in committee.”

This would include zoning violations, smoking in certain places where it is prohibited, curfews for minors, or failing to return library books. 

“The next priority returning from 2022 is to expand the authority of the county to use photo-speed monitoring devices,” Rosenberg said. 

Delegate Hudson carried one bill in 2022 and Delegate Bell carried another. However neither HB630 nor HB747 made it out of the House Public Safety Committee. Rosenberg said the goal would be to allow for enforcement of speed limits on rural roads which lack shoulders to pull over motorists in violation of the law. 

The third returning priority is to allow agricultural buildings to be subject to minimum building standards. This was adopted by the General Assembly but will have to pass for a second time to go into effect.

“The legislation requires that the Board of Housing and Community Development promulgate safety related regulations for what are called agritourism event buildings, that's the newly defined term in the state code,” Rosenberg said. 

Currently there are no requirements under state law and localities may not regulate safety standards. 

The new requests are to allow Albemarle to hold a sales tax referendum for a rate increase that would provide new revenues for school construction. Such legislation was more likely to pass when Democrats held both Chambers, but bills for referendums all died in the House committee in 2022. Here’s my story on the demise of one of them

Hudson said other legislators may be interested in finding some form of photo-speed monitoring for rural road speed as well as the sales-tax referendums and would welcome those conversations. 

Another request is to lower the threshold for eligibility for the Virginia Business Ready Sites program from 100 acres of contiguous land to 50 acres. Currently only one property is eligible at the North Fork Discovery Park. 

Delegate Rob Bell wanted to know if there were any identified sites that would be ready to go. Rosenberg said he did not have that information at hand, but said the county’s Economic Development Office has made this a priority in the Project Enable strategic plan

Bell pressed for more details and said Albemarle has had a history of turning down economic development in the past. 

“If they have a list of it that it from the one north of town to five, maybe they can share with us where those five are and what they would use with parcels they would be,” Bell said. 

County Attorney Jeffrey Richardson said Project Enable has the support of the Board of Supervisors. 

“We’ve worked in the last year with several existing businesses and companies in our county and we’ve worked hard to look for land to support their growth and it’s a real challenge in Albemarle County,” Richardson said. 

Another priority is to amend the Freedom of Information Act to allow elected and appointed bodies to hold virtual meetings. 

“And there would be no limits to the number of meetings that could be held virtually,” Rosenberg said. “We’ve seen how the virtual meetings born of the pandemic have led to increased participation on the part of the public.”

Delegate Sally Hudson said she was undecided on this issue and wanted to hear more from Supervisors about why they felt this was important. 

“And I know that all of you take civic engagement very seriously but my one General Assembly session on Zoom was terrible,” Hudson said. “There was something very seriously lost from the inability to engage with people who could grab you in the hallways.”

Delegate Bell shared similar concerns and also pointed out the earlier part of the meeting was spent discussing how bad broadband was in many rural parts of Albemarle. 

Supervisor Ned Gallaway said the pandemic allowed the county to demonstrate that it could adhere to Freedom of Information Act guidelines on providing notice. He said virtual meetings would open up service on elected bodies to more people.

“We have a long tradition of part-time legislators in Virginia and virtual meetings embraces that tradition and allows it to be done by more,” Gallaway said. 

Gallaway said he works full-time and being able to virtually attend boards like the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is made more possible if he can do so remotely. Supervisor Bea LaPisto Kirtley said some bodies haven’t yet made the adjustment back to in-person meetings n Albemarle. 

“I’m on the historic preservation committee,” LaPisto Kirtley said. “We haven’t met in four or five months because we can’t get a quorum. We almost had a quorum and one person at the last minute couldn’t come.” 

Supervisor Donna Price said she did not think elected bodies should be allowed to meet virtually, but supported advisory bodies able to do so. 

Senator Deeds had more sympathy to the idea and said the virtual General Assembly took away a geographical barrier for people who wanted to testify at committee.

“Whether you were from Bristol or Virginia Beach or Arlington, you didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn or spend the night before in Richmond, you could appear before your state legislature,” Deeds said. “We’ve tried to save that element and allow people to appear before committees on Zoom.

Delegate Runion was skeptical. 

“Virtual legislation is not where this Commonwealth is in my opinion,” Runion said. “I find it to be very ineffective and very chilling on our republic,” Runion said. 

Runion did note the convenience of being able to participate virtually. 

The final legislative priority was a proposal to allow for special exceptions for short-term rentals to expire rather than to continue on under different owners. 

“The cities of Hampton, Norfolk, and Richmond have this kind of authority in situations where they are considering a special exception or special use permit related to retail Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses,” Rosenberg said. 

Senator Deeds said he understood what Albemarle wanted to accomplish but said he was concerned about how to get such legislation passed. 

How closely do you follow the General Assembly? What do you want to know between now and then? Leave a comment and a question. 

Reading material:

457 Chatter 

It is Election Day, and results will be in the next installment, as well as coverage of last night’s City Council meeting. The switch to afternoon publication is clearing up a lot of room for to comprehend putting this out daily. There’s enough information, and after two and a half years of doing this, I have an engine to help me get it done. Ongoing support from listeners and readers make it happen, and I thank you. 

A thank you today to Fiori Floral Studio and Jenn Finazzo for providing me a couple of soundbites in the podcast. If you’d like to be a voice in the show, let me know. 

Support does come through Substack subscriptions as well as Patreon contributions. About 40 people do both, and they are all eligible for some of the shout-outs you hear on the show including today’s on the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards. Every single dollar that comes in goes to pay to produce the program, including my recent purchase of a transcription subscription to help assist production. 

I’m able to make that purchase also because Ting covers the initial payment for all new Substack subscriptions! That can be at $5 a month, $50 a year, or $200 a year! If you are at the $200 a year level, you also get shout-outs! In fact, that’s where the one from the League of Women Voters came from today. 

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That’s it for today. Back tomorrow. And goodbye!