The first public forum for the three Democratic City Council candidates was held a few days ago, Sean Tubbs and Brian Wheeler write for Charlottesville Tomorrow, with Dave Norris, Kristin Szakos, and Julian Taliaferro answering a total of seventeen questions on the water supply, infrastructure plans, the McIntire Parkway, relations with the county, noise pollution from the amphitheater, the YMCA, and more. Charlottesville Tomorrow provides the audio of the forum, with video and a transcript to come.
9 thoughts on “First Democratic City Council Forum Held”
I don’t like the manner in which these forums are being conducted. Questions are being prescreened and banned by the Democrats before the candidates have to answer them. The same will probably take place during the City Sheriff forum on May 6.
Citizens and taxpayers should be allowed to stand up and ask anything they wish to. After attending the April 22 introduction of the 3 council and 3 sheriff candidates, I can guarantee here’s four questions that will be banned at the City Sheriff forum:
1- “I see where two of the three candidates mention their wife and children. Are you married and do you have any children in the city school system?”
2- “I repeatedly see mention where you mention going to work as a deputy sheriff and rising through the ranks in the City Sheriff’s Department, as if this is some sort of major accomplishment. Why do you keep forgetting to mention that your daddy was the sheriff and hired you, and he promoted you? Does this flagrant nepotism launching your career qualify you to be the next city sheriff?”
3- “I see you mention “DEMOCRAT FOR SHERIFF” on your campaign singage. You are not the democratic nominee yet, why are using this wording on your signs? Is this a deliberate attempt to make the voters think they are voting for the Democrat during the May 9 caucus?”
4- “When a person escapes custody under your watch, like Mr Steppe most recently, the person becomes a danger to the community, especially those citizens who might have been instrumental in placing him in jail in the first place. Why do you not notify the public of this escape for their own safety, and why do you not solicit the public’s help in spoting and recapturing this escapee more quickly? Furthermore, can you explain how under your watch, a person leaves the courtroom and re-enters with a can of mace and assaults another person in the courtroom with this mace?”
I can’t comprehend how that’s relevant to how somebody would perform as sheriff.
The fact that one’s superior is one’s father is not evidence of “flagrant nepotism.”
It’s standard for a candidate to declare a party affiliation prior to winning a nomination. Not only is there no harm in it, it’s probably beneficial to both the candidate and the party.
I can see why these questions wouldn’t be selected to be asked at a public forum. There’s nothing to be gained by asking them, and no useful information would result.
The then City Manager Cole Hendrix immediately amended the nepotism policy in the city. I have a copy of it laying on my desk in a stack of papers. Flagrant as you know means “conspicuously offensive; so obviously inconsistent with what is right or proper as to appear to be a flouting of law or morality.” A sheriff hiring his own son and promoting his own son was certainly “conspicuously offensive” to me. Even other police officers, deputy sheriffs and state troopers were joking and laughing about it. And according to voters I spoke with in Nelson County, flagrant nepotism pretty much contributed to Bill Harris being voted out of office in Nelson County a while back. His son had lost one eye in a barroom fight, but was still hired by his father. I personally think Cole Hendrix felt the term applied quite well since he was so quick to amend the nepotism policy. And when a deputy sheriff within the department was penalized twice for becoming quite vocal about the flagrant nepotism, the penalties were overturned twice by city grievance panels. The panels ruled the penalties were obviously not a result of the person’s performance on the job.
As far as the signage, I obviously don’t agree. You shouldn’t be allowed to call yourself the Democratic candidate for sheriff until you have won their nomination process. You can call yourself a democrat of course, but “DEMOCRAT FOR SHERIFF”? I think it would be quite interesting to see what percentage of the population would view the term “DEMOCRAT FOR SHERIFF” somewhat misleading prior to any nomination or endorsement by the Democratic Party. Would the percentage be as low as 10%, or would it be as high as 90%? Interesing question. Having just reviewed all the pictures from the Dogwood Parade, I also don’t agree with a 2nd candidate plastering DEMOCRAT all over his parade vehicle as well. But it was much better than proclaiming himself as the “DEMOCRAT FOR SHERIFF”. I liked Phillip Brown’s approach in the parade. His banners simply asked people to come out and vote for him in the May 9 Democratic Caucus. This was his way of asking the voters to make him the “DEMOCRAT FOR SHERIFF”.
I’m also old school on the marriage thing as well. I think being married, being settled down, and having children in our school system means quite a bit. Has this changed? Am I this far behind times?
I notice you didn’t address escapes and incidents being hidden from the public. This department is notorious for not sharing escapes and incidents with the public. Bad news equal serious reviews at election time, a problem with having elected officials. At election time, they want you to believe the previous four years went fine with no major incidents of any type. Tell me how you feel about an escapee roaming the streets while the public hasn’t even been notified of the escape? Or better yet, let me tell you about an one escape I recall. Four or five hours after his escape, and it now being after dark, the entire department had gone home and the escapee was still roaming the neighborhood two blocks from the courthouse when spotted. The entire neighborhood was at risk when no media advisory of the escape had even taken place. It was only after an off duty deputy sheriff decided to search the neighborhhood one more time that the escapee was spotted and recaptured. What would have or could have taken place in that neighborhood that evening if that one last attempt at recapture by a diligent deputy sheriff had not taken place?
People who describe themselves as “Democrat for X” or “Republican for X” aren’t claiming that they’ve received the nomination, simply advertising that they are a member of that party, and they are running for that office. There’s really no other convenient way to get that message across to voters. And there’s nothing in accurate about it, if the candidate is, in fact, both seeking that office and a member of the claimed party. For instance, Creigh Deeds describes himself as “Democrat for Governor” at the top of his website, but has not yet been nominated.
I just can’t see what difference that it makes, particularly in an office like sheriff. (School board, I could see.) I don’t see that most voters care, either. Tom Perriello is unmarried, no children, while Virgil Goode is on his second wife, but that didn’t seem to hurt Tom any. If a candidate is gay, for instance, he can’t get married, but that’s not his fault, and has nothing to do with his ability to fulfill the obligations of the office. Or if a candidate is unable to bear children, I can’t see how that makes her less qualified to hold office. And, of course, some people just don’t want to get married or have children. (If anything, speaking practically, that would probably mean that the candidate would have more time to dedicate to the office than one married with children.) Others would like to do both, but believe that it’s best to marry the right person, and haven’t met him or her yet.
No, the only relevance that this could have to a campaign is purely strategic, when attempting to demonstrate a candidate’s commitment to the community when it has come into question. For example, the chair of the Albemarle Republicans up and ran for the BoS mere months after he’d moved here from northern Virginia somewhere. He didn’t own a home here, had no children in school here, and that presented an obstacle for a guy who had a clear problem w/r/t public perception, which is to say that he’s a carpetbagger. (The same problem that Terry McAuliffe has in his campaign for governor right now.) What a candidate does in that instance is trot out photos of him with his arm around his wife, children gathered in front of them—problem solved, because it’s a lot tougher to move a family than just one person, especially with kids in school. But without the shorthand of a wife and children, there remains plenty of alternative methods to demonstrate commitment to the community, some of which I think are actually more effective. Again, though, that’s only necessary in the instance of a candidate who has just moved to town in the past few years.
You are obviously free to desire any traits that you like in a candidate. But the point here is that’s really not universalizable, and that your desire really isn’t rooted in anything practical about the candidate, but more of a gut instinct matter.
I guess times have changed and most of your points are valid concerns in the year 2009. But I still remain an old school type of person and will most likely seek out the traits that I feel compose a strong candidate.
But you still ignored the question about whether the public has a right to know when an escapee is at large. The public should at least know what the escapee looks like, if nothing more. It would be nice to know the person approaching you from 30 yards away in a parking lot has just escaped from the Charlottesville Circuit Court. I have a major problem with this department not sharing information of this sort with the public for as long as I can remember. Especialy since the last escape was just a month ago. Who knows what the person was capable of while roaming the streets?
I believe public notifications are the responsible of the Sherrif, in this case, Cornelia Johnson. Perhaps she did not authorize any of her deputies to notify anyone of the escape.
I understand that Baird has been a lifelong resident of the city and attended city schools. How can one be more committed than that?
I suspect “Democrat for Sherriff” is a notice to all that he has been a participating member of the Democratic Party and says to me that he is implying that one or both of his opponents have not. It is not uncommon for people to find the new religion in order to gain office.
Ohh, I agree CVille Eye. He was born and raised in this town. Went to city schools. Went to work for the ABC store. Left the ABC store and became a deputy sheriff when his daddy was sheriff and hired him. Started his rise up the ranks while his daddy was sheriff and promoted him. I can’t blame him for wanting to be sheriff now. As Mannie Norford, Carlton Baird, J W Rittenhouse and Cornelia Johnson could all tell you… becoming Sheriff for the last 10 to 15 years of one’s career enhances their retirement benefits quite a bit. In Carlton Baird’s case though, he never lived long enough to enjoy his enhanced retirement benefits. And that’s a shame.
Let’s just hope that whoever wins the Democratic nomination and election this year takes it upon himself to warn the public when a person escapes and is roaming the streets with citizens and taxpayers. People who escape from the local courts know their pictures are never broadcast in the various media outlets. Once they are two blocks from the courthouse they can slow down and walk normally. Had one escapee tell me one day that nobody in town was looking for him except “uniforms”. He even claimed he had convinced his family that the charges were dropped and he was released by the court. After months of freedom, and doing only God knows what the whole time, he was only recaptured after a deputy sheriff in an unmarked car knocked him off a bicycle by ramming him with the front fender.
Sounds like you’ve been around a while CVille Eye, and just like a few of us other dinosuars, you most likely know some of the diehard Republicans who find the new religion when they decide to run for an elected office in Charlottesville!! It was the first lesson I ever learned in local politics. :)
“…you most likely know some of the diehard Republicans who find the new religion when they decide to run for an elected office…” Yes.
If I were to vote in the caucus I would probably support Phillip Bfrown, although I have no problems with Baird.
Demopublican, quite frankly, I don’t recall any of the former Sheriffs you mentioned above ever revealing to the public that a prisoner had escaped unless he had been missing for days. Maybe this is something that the new Sheriff, regardless of who he is, should look into. After all, we now have the capability of Reverse 911.
You’re a good man. I think a lot of people view Phillip Brown as the most qualified candidate so far.
I have spoken with Phillip Brown on a grand scale and he has promised to look into some of my concerns and improvements that still need to be made within the Sheriff’s Office. The old guard hasn’t wanted to change much as far as keeping the public informed. The public’s safey and well being is in jeopardy if we keep letting them do things the way they’ve been done for at least the last 3 or 4 decades. And the public’s safety and well being trumps the Sheriff’s Office not wanting to release bad news and look bad in the process.
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