Dem duke-out: Candidates face off in June primary

Wes Bellamy, Adam Lees, Kristin Szakos, Bob Fenwick, and Melvin Grady want to be on City Council, where two seats are open. Usually the Democratic primary in Charlottesville means game over for the general election in November. This year, two Republicans— attorney Buddy Weber and city cop Mike Farruggio— will be on the ballot for City Council to challenge that routine in the fall.

Meanwhile, five Democrats are jockeying for nomination in the June 11 primary for two open seats on City Council. Councilor Dave Norris is not running again, and Kristin Szakos seeks reelection.

In a trend started last year with the arrest of Albemarle Supervisor Chris Dumler, who pleaded guilty to sexual battery, candidates had barely announced when one, Wes Bellamy, was arrested for not showing up in court. That charge was dismissed May 16, and he was fined $10 and $61 in court costs for not having a license, which was suspended when he was late paying a speeding ticket in Sussex County.

Also on the primary ballot are candidates for two contested constitutional offices— commonwealth's attorney and commissioner of revenue. No Republicans have entered those races, and currently, Democrat Jason Vandever is the only candidate for city treasurer.

But wait, there's more. The governor's race is the big contest for this off-year election, and the GOP's Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe have their parties' nominations firmly in hand.

In the statewide primary, the Dems are nominating candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Republicans made their picks for those slots at a convention May 18, with state Senator Mark Obenshain edging out Delegate Rob Bell for AG, and E.W. Jackson taking lieutenant governor after 12 hours and four rounds of balloting.

If you live in Charlottesville and are voting in the Democratic primary June 18, here are the people who will be on your ballot.

Wes Bellamy
Age: 26
Occupation: Teacher, Albemarle High School/Director, Helping Young People Evolve (H.Y.P.E.)
How long in Charlottesville? Four years
Previous political experience: Collegiate lead for 2008 Obama campaign at South Carolina State University, volunteer for 2012 Obama campaign in Charlottesville. 
Why run? The city needs fresh ideas and a different perspective in leadership positions. I have demonstrated through countless events that I can lead, make an impact, and work to improve the quality of
life for the citizens of Charlottesville.
Number of City Council meetings you've attended: 50 plus
Worst decision Council has made in past two years: I think the fact that it's been nearly two years and Council has yet to make a firm decision on the Human Rights Commission is troubling to say the least. [On May 20, City Council approved a commission.] This is something that the city desperately needs.
Best? The creation of The Crossings, which has not only provided affordable housing for those in need, but has also saved the city a great deal of money when one takes into account the dollars spent on the homeless,  who are incarcerated at higher rates and who have mental health needs that aren’t met when they're on the street.
Worst blot on your criminal record: “Failure to appear” due to a misunderstanding about a court date.
Priority issue: Economic development/education, which go hand-in-hand. We currently have 29 percent of our families either living below the poverty line and/or are not self sufficient. We must begin to look at the major employers like UVA, Martha Jefferson, and State Farm Insurance as purchasers with a job market that we can tap into. There are 24 kids in my H.Y.P.E. program, and we have raised our GPA from 1.8 to 3.2 in a little over a year. Much of this is due to having high expectations, instilling discipline, and most importantly, giving the children something to aspire to.
Cite one example in which a Human Rights Commission would have made a difference: I will not give specific names, but I know of a business within the city that blatantly discriminated against an African-American employee in how she was treated on the job and subsequently terminated unjustly. Had there been a Human Rights Commission, this business would have had to face consequences for its actions.
Why vote for you? I am not an individual who is running for Council to begin serving the community; I will CONTINUE to serve the city. I have given away nearly 1,800 coats in two years with my “Big Giveaways,” nearly 600 book bags in two years with my “Back to School Giveaway’s,” and I have fed nearly 1,000 people at my “Spring Fling Community Days.”
Campaign slogan: Take Charlottesville from being a good city to a GREAT city. Move the city forward.

Bob Fenwick
Age: 68
Occupation: General construction contractor
Previous political experience: Two campaigns for City Council.
Why run? I am committed to making Charlottesville a better place with Cash Mob, Rock Hill Gardens, and Believers and Achievers– an ex-felons support group, and the Project Transition free garden program. I believe that my professional, volunteer and civic experiences within this community have prepared me to help the city address the many challenges that lie ahead.
Number of City Council meetings you've attended: Over 100
Worst decision City Council has made in past two years: Building the new Ragged Mountain Reservoir before dredging the Rivanna Reservoir.
Best? Continued support for the arts.
Worst blot on your criminal record: Don't have one.
Priority Issue: Job creation, business protection, neighborhood protection.
Cite one example in which the Human Rights Commission would have made a difference: Since there is no city ordinance banning discrimination, the HRC would offer our citizens a venue to appeal an unjust act. Our children pledge every day “...with liberty and JUSTICE for all.” We don't need these contentious issues festering in our community for years.
Why vote for you? I love Charlottesville and think it can be an even better place than it is now. My extensive volunteer and civic involvement in Charlottesville over the years clearly shows my commitment to this community. And I think my 40 years of business experience gives me a unique perspective and differentiates me from other candidates.
Campaign slogan: Common sense leadership, economic revitalization, energetic representation.

Melvin Grady
Age: 44
Occupation: Math teacher for Charlottesville City Schools at Buford Middle School.
How long in Charlottesville? I have lived in Charlottesville for my entire life.
Previous political experience: Obama campaign volunteer in 2008.
Why run? I want to help make a positive change for all of the citizens of Charlottesville.
Number of City Council meetings you've attended:  At least 40 over the years. I also tune in on public access TV if I don't come in person.
Worst decision Council has made in past two years: The decision to construct an all-new earthen dam. I felt there was more important information to consider before making that ultimate decision.
Best? The Crossings at 4th and Preston. It helps with affordable housing and chronic homelessness, which we still have in our community.
Worst blot on your criminal record: Having one in the first place for driving issues. [Grady was found guilty of refusing a breathalyzer test in 2004– editor]
Priority issue: Increase quality education for children in pre-K schooling, and affordable daycare.
Cite one example in which a Human Rights Commission would have made a difference: I won't give names, but I know of an instance where a city employee was passed over for years for a supervisory position for which he was well-qualified.
Why vote for you? I am honest, open-minded, and fair.  I will help make our community better by connecting the citizens of Charlottesville with our City Council.
Campaign slogan: A voice for our community that WILL listen!

Adam Lees
Age: 24
Occupation: Teaching assistant and graduate student.
How long in Charlottesville? Charlottesville has been my home for the past two years but it feels like it has been longer.
Previous political experience: UVA Student Council representative; Democratic campaign volunteer; voter.
Why run? Because the city faces several challenges, and I can do something about it. If you have the ability to act, you have the duty– in my mind– to act.
Number of City Council meetings you've attended: Unfortunately, meetings have coincided with my classes or work schedules since I moved here. I plan on attending them after the end of classes when I'll have my evenings free.
Worst decision Council has made in past two years: Inaction on homelessness, young adult unemployment, and improving public transit. This is the sin not of things done but left undone.
Best? Town hall meetings with residents in all neighborhoods. Anything to make the government more available and accountable.
Worst blot on your criminal record: A speeding ticket in Chesterfield on an abandoned and poorly signed I-95 during my drive to my mom and dad's home for Christmas.
Priority issues: Improving public transportation, funding post-secondary education to create job opportunities for young adults, and addressing homelessness.
Cite one example in which a Human Rights Commission would have made a difference: Both with PHAR's struggles with the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority and with the LGBT community in general.
Why vote for you? You want a new councilor with a fresh, unique perspective who will listen and reach out to everyone and work diligently to solve the problems facing Charlottesville.
Campaign slogan: Making Charlottesville for everyone.

Kristin Szakos
Age: 54
Occupation: I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter, news editor, freelance writer, nonprofit administrator and grantwriter, and co-written two books on community organizing. I currently edit translations for an international translation agency. 
How long in Charlottesville? 19 years. My daughters were three and four when we moved here; now they’re 22 and 23. We live in the Locust Grove neighborhood.
Previous political experience: I’ve been on the Charlottesville City Council since 2010. I co-coordinated the 2007-8 Obama primary 5th District campaign, and was a local volunteer coordinator and national Democratic delegate in 2008.
Why run? In three years, I’ve initiated Our Town Meetings, paperless agendas, Downtown ambassadors, snow-shoveling volunteer hotline, Youth Council and City of Promise. I get things done, and there’s more to do.
Number of City Council meetings you've attended:  45
Worst decision Council has made in past two years:  While I haven’t agreed with everything Council has done in the past two years, there is no single decision that rises to the level of worst for me.
Best? To become a partner in City of Promise, a cradle-through-college collaborative where youth, parents, service providers and policy makers work together to get kids ready for college and career success.
Worst Best blot on your criminal record: I was convicted in 1982 for trespassing while protesting nuclear weapons targeting in Omaha, and was on federal probation for two years. Fellow arrestees included two priests and a Catholic Bishop.
Priority issue: Over 50 percent of our school children and 22 percent of adults are low-income. We need to use data-driven economic development, housing, education and programmatic strategies to enable folks to achieve self-sustainability.
Cite one example in which a Human Rights Commission would have made a difference: A young woman realizes that she hasn’t been getting raises like her fellow (male) employees. Her employer isn’t subject to EEOC (only nine employees) so she files with the city.
Why vote for you? I focus on supporting what Charlottesville does well and concentrating on things we should improve. We can end generational poverty through jobs and education, and create a vibrant, inclusive community.
Campaign slogan: Citizen engagement; creative collaboration; proven leadership.

Warner D. “Dave” Chapman
Education: B.A. with Honors, University of Virginia, 1975; J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1979.                                   Experience: 1994 to present, commonwealth's attorney, City of Charlottesville; 1991-1993, deputy commonwealth's attorney, Albemarle County; 1988-1991, assistant commonwealth's attorney, Albemarle County; 1980-1987, private practice, criminal and general litigation; 1981-1987, Student Legal Services of the University of Virginia.
Ever been arrested? No
How would you like to be treated by the commonwealth's attorney if you were charged with a crime? I want to be seen as an individual. The commonwealth's attorney must be fair, have an open mind, and have the courage to give me the benefit of any doubt.
How would you like to treated if you were a victim? I want the commonwealth's attorney to understand my case and its importance to me. I want the                   commonwealth's attorney to be honest with me and present my case effectively.
Priority issue:
We will have a new circuit court judge in 2014. The Commonwealth must continue to be respected in court for the traits of honesty, competence, wisdom, and compassion. 
Endorsements: Delegate David Toscano, former mayor Nancy O’Brien, School Board member Leah Puryear.
Campaign slogan: Justice is achieved one case at a time.

Steve Deaton
Age: 69
Education: B.S. in political science, University of Tennessee; J.D., University of Richmond–selected for Law Review.
Experience: Eight years as assistant commonwealth's attorney in Charlottesville; four years as commonwealth's attorney– during my time in office I broke down racial barriers by hiring the first African Americans ever to work in the commonwealth attorney's office. Also established the successful Victim Witness program to assist victims of crime as they go through the court process.
Ever been arrested? No
How would you like to be treated by the commonwealth's attorney if you were charged with a crime? Fairly–the same as other people charged with a similar offense are treated.
How would you like to be treated if you were a victim? Victims should be treated the same–the attention they receive should not depend on their social status.
Priority issue: Stopping the practice of prosecuting minor offenses as felonies. Too many people in our community, especially minorities, are being disenfranchised because of a felony conviction, often  for a minor, nonviolent crime for which little or no active jail time is imposed. If their offense doesn't even merit going to jail, then why treat them as a "convicted felon," which stigmatizes and disenfranchises them? 
Endorsements: Former Charlottesville sheriff Cornelia Johnson, former Charlottesville School Board member Muriel Wiggins, retired Charlottesville Police officer Dennis Morris.
Campaign slogan: An advocate for justice and diversity.

Todd Divers
BA in sociology (history minor), University of Virginia; masters in teaching secondary school social studies, Curry School, University of Virginia.
What the heck is commissioner of revenue?
The official who determines the amount of personal property and business-related tax we pay, assists businesses with filing and compliance, and runs the city’s tax- and rent-relief and tax-incentive programs.
After teaching high school world history and middle school civics and economics, I now work at a full-service sign shop, where I have developed relationships with literally hundreds of local businesses.
Ever been arrested?
Lee Richards, the retiring Charlottesville commissioner of revenue; Nancy O’Brien, former mayor and former Thomas Jefferson Planning District executive director; David Brown, former mayor, special assistant to Delegate David Toscano
Campaign slogan:
Public service first!

Jonathan Stevens
Age: 37
Education: Economics and chemistry, Princeton, 1998, and accounting at PVCC (where Jane Kingston, my wonderful professor, taught me things I use in my business all the time).
What the heck is commissioner of revenue? CoR issues business licenses; assesses most local taxes; assists citizens with state income tax returns; and administers the Technology Zone Incentive, Housing Affordability, Real Estate Tax Relief, and Rent Relief programs.
Experience: Research lab purchasing and requisitions manager who created digital databases; local and federal campaign manager; data consultant; small business owner specializing in data targeting analysis and outreach.
Ever been arrested? No
Endorsements: Former mayor Alvin Edwards, City Councilor Kathy Galvin, and School Board member Juan Wade.
Campaign slogan: Modern, efficient, progressive. The office should be a portal where every business can be connected with helpful resources. Thriving businesses mean more jobs, and a stronger balance sheet for Charlottesville.

Aneesh Chopra
Age: 40
Occupation: Senior advisor at the Advisory Board. 
Residence: Arlington
Previous political experience: Secretary of technology for Governor Kaine, appointed by President Obama to be the nation's first chief technology officer. 
On what issue would you like to cast the tie-breaking vote: My sincere hope is that we can work together to pass common-sense legislation that receives wide bipartisan support. However, I will not hesitate to use my position as lieutenant governor to stop out-of-touch legislation that moves Virginia backward, such as attacks on women's rights and healthcare, and attempts at voter suppression. I would also not hesitate to use my vote to ensure the passage of important priorities like Medicaid expansion.  Ultimately, we need to restore the Virginia model of working together on an agenda that works for everyone, respects everyone, and protects and grows the middle class.
Endorsements: Former congressman Tom Perriello, Mayor Satyendra Huja, former mayor David Brown.

Ralph Northam
Age: 53
Occupation: United States Army doctor (1984-1992); pediatric neurologist with the Children Specialty Group at the Children’s Hospital of King’s Daughters.
Residence: Norfolk
Previous political experience: I have served in the Virginia state Senate for six years. I have a proven record of navigating Virginia’s legislative process and the experience necessary to protect Virginians’ values as lieutenant governor.
On what issue would you like to cast the tie-breaking vote: As the only doctor in the Senate, I have led the opposition against the transvaginal ultrasound bill and I am chief patron of the bill to repeal the current mandatory ultrasound law. If this or any other legislation pertaining to women’s reproductive care is tied in the Senate, I pledge to cast my vote to protect women’s rights and place trust in Virginian women to make their own medical decisions.
Endorsements: Senate Leader Dick Saslaw, Senator Creigh Deeds, former mayor Kay Slaughter.

Justin Fairfax
Age: 34
Occupation: Attorney
Residence: Annandale
Previous political experience: Former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; former Duke University trustee; member, Board of Visitors for Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. Also Virginia Voter Protection lawyer volunteer, 2008 U.S. presidential election; briefing coordinator for Tipper Gore, Gore/Lieberman 2000 presidential campaign; Judiciary Affairs legislative staffer, former U. S. Senator John Edwards (D-NC); and assistant, vice presidential candidate Edwards, Kerry/Edwards 2004 presidential campaign.
What issue would you have handled most differently from current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli? Ken Cuccinelli has used political ideology to attack women’s health. As attorney general, I’ll use the law to fight for more security and opportunity for all Virginians, not to undermine a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body.
Ever been arrested? No.
Endorsements: Former White House counsel Greg Craig, former Democratic Party of Virginia chair and former Alexandria mayor Kerry Donley, former American Bar Association president Robert Grey Jr.

Mark Herring
Age: 51
Occupation: Lawyer
Residence: Leesburg
Previous political experience:  Member, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 2000-2004; member, Virginia Senate, 2006-present.
What issue would you have handled most differently from Cuccinelli? One of the first actions current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli took after taking office was to issue a wrong and harmful opinion that Virginia’s public colleges and universities could not include sexual orientation as part of their non-discrimination policies in hiring and admissions. As attorney general, I will issue an opinion that reverses what Cuccinelli did and affirm that our public colleges and universities do have the legal authority to protect LGBT Virginians from discrimination. Additionally, I would not have filed suit against the federal government over the Affordable Care Act. On the contrary, I was leader in the General Assembly in helping to implement the ACA here in Virginia.
Ever been arrested? No
Endorsements: Delegate David Toscano,
Denise Lunsford, Albemarle commonwealth’s attorney, 
Sherry Kraft, vice chair, Charlottesville Democratic Committee.


1) Wes Bellamy.. NO He thinks that he KNOWS all the facts as to why a black person was terminated and wants the presumably white businessman to be prosecuted. Sounds llke the same criteria people used to lynch blacks except this time they will do it with publicity and financial ruin instead of a rope.

2)Bob Fenwick YES, While liberal he seems to inderstand that the city is still paid for by the production of its inhabitants and not just there to serve the downtrodden and the lazy. His work with felons shows that he has expectaions of people to help themselves.

3)Melvin Grady, YES. He is a liflelong resident who has been through the life experiences of being a black man in the city as a youth and an adult. He has to deal with the Police through his own mistakes which he admits and also apparently overzelaous officers and even false accusastions. All good firsthand experiences for this position. He has also chosen to give back through teaching which is a noble sacrifice in itself.

4) Adam Lees NO No and more NO . He can't even own up to a speeding ticket without blaming it on poor signage. He is just a liberal product of this generation whos entire platform is spending taxpayer money on pet projects for people who pay no taxes.

5) Kristen SZakos NO NO NO and more NO Enough is Enough. Alls that it takes is to watch one meeting to find out this woamn with a good heart lacks the common sense god gave a billy goat. She spent 45 minutes arguing over the living wage for city employees which would have affected a dozen people for a buck an hour and then dismissed the next issue about Stonefields in 10 minutes without even letting the facts come out, effectively delaying the employment of hundreds of people for months while it went through the court (and the city lost) Her issue about woman not receiiving a raise because she has a vagina is a perfect example of why we should not have a commission. A business owner cannot be placed in the position of having to publicly explain why a particular male employee is doing a better job than a female employee. It is the bosses decision what he wants to pay and if a person man or woman does not like than they can leave. It is very rare that two jobs are exactly the same and no two people are EVER exactly the same. Even if you took a job such as a cashier. Perhaps the male is friendlier. Is that a valid defense? The EEOC does not deal with small busineses for EXACTLY that reason. It is too subjective and not provable. She chose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that these commissions are nothing more than a way for fired minorities to get unemployment and neutral references or the Commission threatens to "expose" the employers as racist, sexists or homophobic.

Worst decision Council has made in past two years: "While I haven’t agreed with everything Council has done in the past two years, there is no single decision that rises to the level of worst for me". [Kristin Szakos]

Kristin has thrown the glove down. Any takers?

Well, except for the old guy, they all seem to want to throw money around.

For whatever reason, The Hook failed to include how long Bob Fenwick has been in Charlottesville. According to his website, he moved to Charlottesville 37 years ago.

Szakos "Priority issue: Over 50 percent of our school children and 22 percent of adults are low-income. We need to use data-driven economic development, housing, education and programmatic strategies to enable folks to achieve self-sustainability".

50% of all our school children come from the bottom 22% of income adults in the City ?

@Statistics: Sure. And Szakos also said these same folks "don't know a brick from a tree". Here's her soundbite to prove it:

If I were Wes and and Grady, I'd be playin' this over and over and over...

Its voting time tomorrow, Tuesday June 11. Jonathan Stevens, running for Commissioner of the Revenue, is the Karl Rove of the sellout wing of Charlottesville's Democratic party. I hear he has raised $30,000 for his campaign.

No one has worked harder in the background to monetize Charlottesville politics; a great thing for those with lots of money, who use some of it to take control of public money (and water and parks), to make them much more money.

The unspoken deal the local sprawl lobby type mentioned above have made in the past with the Democrats-for-hire wing boils down to this:

"Give us what we want, and we will support you in the primary and not be serious about running Republicans against you"

And that's how Galvin, Huja, and Kristen Szakos (who is running for City Council again now) got elected, and they have delivered. They gave it our all. Particularly Charlottesville's water and central Park. And they weren't shy about bending the truth to make it happen.

Bob Fenwick on the other hand, has a huge amount of integrity and common sense. He would make a great City Counselor, worthy of sitting alongside Dede Smith and the most excellent Dave Norris. Charlottesville will be a better place if you vote for Bob Fenwick. People I trust say they are also impressed with Wes Bellamy and Todd Divers, so perhaps they are two more reasons to vote tomorrow Tuesday, June 11.