Charlottesville City Council Discusses Change

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

March 10, 2005

For right now, the Charlottesville City Council said it will remain the same, but councilors had a heated discussion about directly electing the Mayor and using a mixed ward and at-large election system.

The purpose of the discussion was to find out what the Charlottesville City Council can do to increase voter turnout. One suggestion was "getting more people involved in the function of government [so that] more people vote," said Blake Caravati, a City Council member.

Mayor David Brown brought up several idea such as non-partisan elections, or an alternative voting system. Those ideas didn't fly with the rest of the council, but they did agree on one new suggestion.

In the future, the committee would like to have at least one of the councilors present at the Mayor's office once a week for an hour or two. By opening the door to the public, they hope it will improve communication with the community. "Maybe the focus of this [future] meeting will be not necessarily to sit and listen, but to have a summary from the city of area developments," said Mayor David Brown.

Most councilors said if the mayor is elected by the people, not the council, it wouldn't affecting voter turnout. "We changed the date of our election from May to November. Before we take this step [for] our system in a significant way, why don't we see what that does. [Will] the voter turn out bump up significantly with the change?," asked Brown.

As for matters of the mixed ward system the councilors were not too sure about that idea either.

"There is the notion that geography determines whether or not you're going to be a good representative of the people," said Kendra Hamilton, a City Council member.

"I hate to make a change and have turn-out go down," said Brown.

Mayor Brown also said he would look into getting an intern for the himself and the rest of City Council.

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