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Charlottesville City Council
Albemarle County Supervisors
General Assembly
State Legislators
Congressional Delegation

The great divide
Unlike almost every other state, in Virginia cities and counties are completely separate entities. The downside of that arrangement is that regional issues can involve many players. The upside is that citizens, by their choice of residence within the same general area, get to "choose" between two different governments.


Charlottesville operates under the "council-manager" form of
government. That grew out of a national mid-century reform movement to stop patronage and align government with the business model of an elected board of trustees (City Council), which hires a CEO (the city manager) who is insulated from the political rough and tumble. The mayor has no special powers (but earns $16,000 for the position) and is simply the member of City Council who sets the agenda (and cuts a lot of ribbons). In recent years, there's some buzz about having the mayor directly elected by citizens rather than by fellow councilors (who all get $14,000 annually), who are all officially part-timers.

Annual operating budget: $126 million for FY 2010-2011, down 0.77% from FY 2009-2010)

Next election: November 2011.

City Council
The five councilors serve four-year terms and choose a mayor every two years among themselves. They are all elected at-large. 

Dave Norris, Mayor
On Council since 2006, he was re-elected in 2009.

Holly Edwards, Vice Mayor

On Council since 2008, her term ends in 2012.

David Brown
On Council since 2004 and a former mayor.

Satyendra Huja
On Council since 2008

Kristen Szakos
On Council since 2010


City Council meetings
Meets: 7pm on first and third Mondays. Televised live on Channel 10
Where: City Council Chambers in City Hall
Located: Corner of Seventh Street NE and Downtown Mall
Clerk: Paige Barfield 970-3113

Acting City Manager- Maurice Jones 970-3101

The Charlottesville Code is available online or can be obtained at the local library or via the City Attorney's Office (970-3131).

HookTip: Got a wonkish streak, but don't enjoy sitting through long meetings after work? Charlottesville City Council meetings are available on demand anytime via streaming video and as a downloadable podcast.

The county uses the same basic structure as the city government, but the ordinance-makers are called supervisors, they're chosen by district, and there are six of them. Unlike the city, where regulating noise and and maintaining architectural purity grab all the headlines, growth is almost always the biggest issue the county faces. Supervisors earn $14,542 annually for this part-time job, with the chair earning an additional $1,800 stipend.

This year's operating budget: $266.5 million for FY 2010-2011, down $2.3 million (0.9%) from FY 2009-2010.

The Supes
The six Albemarle County supervisors
are elected for four-year terms staggered at two-year intervals. Typically, they deal with one issue: growth.

Ken Boyd
Rivanna District

Lindsay Dorrier
Scottsville District

Rodney Thomas
Rio District

Ann Mallek, Chair
White Hall District

Dennis Rooker
Jack Jouett District

Duane E. Snow, Vice Chair

Samuel Mller District

Board of Supervisors Meetings
Meets: First Wednesday at 9am; second Wednesday at 6pm.
Where: Second floor, County Office Building
Located: Corner of McIntire Road and Preston Avenue
Clerk: Ella Jordan, 296-5843

County Executive
Robert W. Tucker Jr. - 296-5841

The main ones you need to worry about are real property taxes and personal property (car) taxes, which are due on June 5 and December 5 of each year in both the city and county. The Commonwealth of Virginia levies income taxes.

Property: $0.95 per $100 value
Personal property (cars and boats): $4.20/$100 value (mobile homes: $0.95/$100)
Restaurants: meals tax 4%
Hotels: 6%
Short-Term Rental: 1%
City Treasurer- Jennifer Brown, in City Hall - 970-3146

Property: $0.74 per $100 value
Personal property (cars and boats): $4.28/$100 value
Restaurants: meals tax 4%
Hotels: 5%
County Finance Department- Richard Wiggans, Director of Finance, at the County Office Building (complete with a deluxe drive-thru, bill-payin' window during tax time) - 296-5855

State Government
laws are made every year by the General Assembly, composed of the House of Delegates (whose members serve two-year terms) and the State Senate (whose members serve four-year terms). Their work writing bills usually happens pretty fast-- except when the biannual budget is concerned. In 2004, the normal 60-day session stretched an extra 106 days as legislators grappled with a budget. In recent years, budget shortfalls have been the norm, along with painful cuts. Virginia started the year with a $1.8 billion deficit, but now, somehow boasts a $220 million surplus.

In January 2002, the state government began offering a free tracking service that allows citizens to follow up to five bills per session-- via email alerts. Five years later, Charlottesville blogger, political commentator, and cyberwunderkind Waldo Jaquith launched Richmond Sunlight, a free bill tracking service that's searchable by keyword and includes podcasts of legislative sessions, RSS feeds for each legislator, and a comments page for every bill.

Your Governor
Republican and former attorney general Bob McDonnell took office in January 2010
, and under Virginia law cannot seek a second consecutive four-year term.

State legislators:

House of Delegates members are all up for reelection again in November 2011.

25th House District- The Crozet area in Western Albemarle plus some terrain in the Valley counties of Augusta and Rockingham
Current Delegate: 
Steve Landes R-Weyers Cave.
Phone: 540-245-5540

57th House District- All of Charlottesville and much of central Albemarle County
Current Delegate:
David Toscano D-Charlottesville. Toscano is a former mayor of Charlottesville and is currently serving his third term in a reliably Democratic district.
Phone: 220-1660

58th House District- Part of Albemarle, the western half of Fluvanna, all of Greene, and part of Orange County
Current Delegate:
Rob Bell R-Albemarle. Bell has been in office since 2002.
Phone: 245-8900

59th House District- The southwestern chunk of Albemarle, Nelson, Buckingham, Appomattox, and Cumberland Counties and even a little swath of Prince Edward
Current Delegate:
Watkins M. Abbitt Jr. I-Appomattox. Abbitt started out in 1986 as a Democrat, but has run as an independent since 2001.
Phone: 434-352-2880

24th Senate District- The Brownsville, Crozet, and Free Union precincts of Albemarle, plus parts of Rockbridge and Rockingham, and all of Augusta, Greene, and Highland counties, plus the cities of Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro
Current Senator:
Emmett W. Hanger R-Mount Solon
Phone: 540-885-6898
Next election: November 2011

25th Senate District- All of Charlottesville, Bath, Buena Vista, Nelson, and parts of Albemarle, Alleghany, Bath, Buckingham, and Rockbridge counties
Current Senator:
Creigh Deeds D-Bath
Phone: 296-5491
Next election: November 2011. Deeds was trounced in his run for governor last year against McDonnell, after falling just 323 votes (or .00016 percent) short of becoming Attorney General in 2005, again against McDonnell.

17th Senate District- All of Louisa, Madison, Orange and Culpeper counties plus parts of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County
Current Senator: R. Edward Houck (D-Spotsylvania)
Phone: 540-786-2782
Next election: November 2011

Can you believe it
- Charlottesville/Albemarle are chopped into four different House districts. Can you say gerrymandering?

Federal Government
Your two U.S. Senators (every state gets two, remember?) are the following:

Jim Webb - D
Elected: 2006
Next election: November 2012
Likely opponent: No one has stepped up so far to challenge Webb after he pulled off one of the biggest political upsets in American history by defeating one-time presidential frontrunner George Allen, thanks in part to Allen's "macaca" blunder.

Mark Warner - D
Elected: 2009
Next election: November 2014
Too early tell who will want to take on the popular former governor who beat his opponent by nearly 30 points in 2008.

Your Representative in the Fifth District of the House of Representatives:
Tom Perriello - D

Represents: Charlottesville, Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, Fluvanna, and Buckingham counties, extending all the way down to Danville and the North Carolina border.
Elected: 2008
Next election: 2010
Opponent: State Senator Robert Hurt of Chatham. This is the hot race for 2010 and being watched nationally as a harbinger of whether the Dems will keep the House of Representatives. Freshman Perriello seeks to hold on to the seat he won two years ago
in a historically conservative district from seven-term Republican incumbent Virgil Goode by 727 votes. Lucky for him he's sitting on $1.7 million, while challenger Hurt is recuperating from a bruising Republican primary that left him with $216K cash on hand as of June 30. And let's not forget independent candidate Jeff Clark from Danville who's running because he doesn't think Hurt is conservative enough.

Your Representative in the Sixth District of the House of Representatives:
Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke)
Represents: Most of the Shenandoah Valley, including Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta and Rockingham counties, extending southwest down to Roanoke
Elected: 1992
Next election: 2010
Opponent: Goodlatte is so firmly entrenched that the Democrats can't muster a candidate to challenge him as he remains unopposed for his 10th term.

Your Representative in the Seventh District of the House of Representatives:
Eric Cantor (R-Richmond)
Represents: Madison, Orange and Louisa Counties, extending north to Rappahannock County and southeast to Richmond
Elected: 2002
Next election: 2010
Opponent: As House Republican Whip, Cantor has quickly become one of the most prominent GOP faces, his challenger, Rich Waugh, is less well known.

Off this page

State Code
City Code
Charlottesville City
Albemarle County
Other local governments:
Fluvanna County
Greene County
Louisa County
Nelson County
Orange County
Augusta County
Waynesboro City
Staunton City

Planning commissions
In both the city and county, this board takes a look at new building projects and helps guide development. While the commission's vote is merely advisory, it is usually rubber-stamped by the Board of Supervisors in the county.

Albemarle Planning Commission
Don Franco
Mac Lafferty

Thomas Loach (chair)
Calvin Morris

Linda Porterfield

Ed Smith
Duane Zobrist
Meets Tuesdays at 6pm unless otherwise noted.
Where: Lane Auditorium on the second floor of County Office Building
Contact: Wayne Cilimberg, 296-5832 ext. 3254
Agendas: Available by phone at 296-5824

Charlottesville has a planning commission, too, but the board that gets more ink is the Board of Architectural Review, which is charged with preserving the city's historic character.

Charlottesville Planning Commission
Dan Rosensweig
Genevieve Keller
Kurt Keesecker
Michael Osteen
Jason Pearson (chair)
John Santoski
2nd Tuesday at 6:30pm
Where: City Council Chambers
Contact: 970-3182

Virginia is a state that has an election every year. Thanks to the 1996 "
motor voter" law, you can register to vote at the DMV and by mail. October 12 is the last day to register for the November 2, 2010, election. Bring a photo ID when you come to the polls.

Charlottesville held its last elections in November 2009. Local elections follow the general state election schedule. 

Registrar: Sheri Iachetta 970-3250

Elections occur along with the general state on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. While Albemarle previously housed its elections office in the DMV, it recently moved to the County Office building.
Registrar: Richard ("Jake") Washburne 972-4173


Circuit- Hears big criminal and civil cases and is part of the 16th Judicial Circuit. Located in a classic brick building on East High Street. 970-3766
Presiding Judge: Edward Hogshire
Paul C. Garrett

Charlottesville General District Court- Located in that small brick building that also houses the police station at 606 E. Market St. by the parking garage. The clerk can explain the procedures for using this as a "small claims court." 970-3388
Presiding Judge: Robert H. Downer
Mary Alice Trimble

Circuit- Hears big criminal and civil cases and also is in the 16th Judicial Citcuit. Located in the same historic courthouse that Mr. Jefferson frequented on "Court Square." 972-4085
Presiding Judge: Cheryl Higgins
Clerk: Debra Shipp

Albemarle General District Court- Located in the courthouse in Court Square. The clerk can explain the procedures for using this as a "small claims court." 972-4005
Presiding Judge: William G. Barkley
Phyllis Stewart

J&D Court
Juvenile & Domestic Relations- This courts serves Charlottesville, Albemarle, and more in the 16th Judicial District. It hears all cases involving those under 18, from traffic to assault, as well as custody, support and visitation cases. It recently moved back into its new and improved home at 411 E. High Street, which suffered a collapsed wall during renovation in March 2006. Its judges are appointed by the General Assembly for six-year terms. 979-7165
Chief Judge: Susan L. Whitlock
Clerk: Jody Ann Shelley 

U.S. District Court Western District of Virginia- Located at the top of Vinegar Hill on the corner near the Omni hotel, 255 W. Main St., 296-9284
Judge: Norman K. Moon
Clerk: John F. Corcoran
Appeals: 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. 804-916-2700

Small-claims courts
See the two "General District courts" above.

Jury Duty
In Virginia, potential jurors are selected randomly by jury commissioners using lists designated by the court, such as the voter registration list and the driver's license list. You are reimbursed $40 for each day you serve.

The jail
The great big pink building facing I-64 and Avon Street is the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Trusties wear orange. Other inmates wear blue or good old-fashioned black and white stripes. Superintendent: Ronald Matthews 977-6981

First county seat
Originally, the county seat was Scottsville, but that was when Albemarle stretched all the way down over what is now Buckingham County. Since 1762, Charlottesville has been the county seat.

Weird UVA note
Much of UVA, including its Central Grounds, is considered Albemarle turf. When Charlottesville initially annexed the land around the university, it couldn't annex the actual university becase it was state property and thus part of Albemarle County and remains so today. Subsequent expansions by UVA (like the UVA Medical Center) are considered city property. (No official UVA property, whether in city or county, pays taxes.) All this can occasionally create population havoc with the U.S. Census Bureau.

Urban renewal
For a small town, Charlottesville has had a lot of government-sponsored neighborhood clearing, including the Vinegar Hill (in the '60s) and Garrett (in the '70s) neighborhoods.

Revenue Sharing
In a deal widely seen as a sort of bribe to prevent Charlottesville from annexing county land, Albemarle has agreed since 1983 to give 10 cents per $100 of its property tax revenues to the city.

Helpful background

The Virginia Coalition for Open Government (540-353-8264) helps citizens keep an eye on public records, meetings, and elected officials. It was instrumental in the state's creation of the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council (better known as the Sunshine Office). They can be reached toll-free at 866-448-4100.

Tips to citizens: The law limits fees for copies of official records to "actual cost." Contact the Sunshine Office if you get a raw deal. In May 2003, the above Council ruled that failure to respond to a FOIA request is deemed a denial of the request and is a violation of FOIA; person denied rights under FOIA may file a petition for mandamus or injunction.

During the Hook's existence, there have been several Freedom of Information brouhahas, but here's one of them: On June 13, 2002, the Albemarle School Board imposed a gag order on itself. By a 5-2 vote (current Board of Supervisors chair Ken Boyd, and former School Board member Gary Grant dissenting), the board declared that even post-meeting, topics discussed behind closed doors had to stay that way. But there was a curious and contradictory caveat: "Nothing in this policy shall be construed to limit rights protected regarding freedom of expression or freedom of speech."

In 2004, a citizen named Jim Moore filed a FOIA request with Charlottesville to learn the cost breakdown of its new, $6.6 million CityLink computer system. The city denied his request, citing a confidential contract with the vendor. Moore appealed to General District Court. The judge upheld his request, and the city threatened to appeal, but then capitulated and turned over the information Moore requested.

Most recently, in 2007 the General Assembly amended the Freedom of Information Act to include not just "state agencies" but all "public bodies." In March, UVA employee Will Shaw tested that law after filing a FOIA request asking UVA to produce a market salary survey for Central Virginia only to have his job eliminated after filing the request. However, a judge ruled he should have filed in Albemarle County, instead of his home county of Louisa. 

Like the national Citizen Access Project, a group called The Virginia Public Access Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving public understanding of money in politics and reporting donations to political candidates. 804-353-4300




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